by Staff Writer
Measuring cups are one of the workhorses of cooking essentials in the kitchen stable, and for good reason. Pinching, dashing and tossing can work well for seasoning, but when you are crafting a cake, baking bread or creating a rich sauce to drizzle over an entree, you need the correct cooking essential tools to measure the ingredients or disaster can quickly unfold. Using measuring cups properly will allow you to get the most out of your favorite recipes.
Use a sturdy glass or plastic measuring cup for liquids. These come in a variety of sizes, but the 2-cup measure is most commonly used.
Place the measuring cup on a flat, even surface, such as a cutting board or the kitchen counter. The cup will need to be level in order for you to get the most accurate measurement.
Pour the liquid into the cup slowly, keeping an eye on the amount you need. Most clear measuring cups have the gradations marked out in red lines. If you need one cup, fill just under the one cup mark and have a look at eye level. It's tough to see accurately if you are looking down on it. Add a little more until the liquid reaches the desired mark.
Add your liquid to the recipe and use a rubber spatula to scrape out any residue. Some oils, molasses, corn syrup or other sticky types of liquid will remain in the measuring cup even after you've emptied the cup. Scrape down the sides of the cup to make sure you are adding an accurate amount of the ingredient to the recipe.
Find the right measuring cup for your need. Most sets of standard cups come in 1/4-cup, 1/3-cup, 1/2-cup and 1-cup measures. If a recipe calls for 1/4-cup, use the 1/4-cup measure. Some 1-cup measures have gradations on them that indicate 1/4- or 1/2-cups, but if you really want an accurate measure, find a full set. They are inexpensive and worth the small price.
Dip the clean measuring cup into whatever product you are using and pull out a good full scoop. For flour or other dry ingredients that can become overly compacted, you can use a spoon or scoop to gently place the ingredient into the cup. Always make sure your cup is clean, dry and free from any other ingredients.
Use a knife or spatula to scrape off any excess that is mounting over the cup. Most recipes will not call for heaping cups of sugar or flour. One cup means one cup, so by getting your product as even with the lip of the cup as possible, you will have an accurate measure.
Pack only if it's called for. Brown sugar is commonly seen in recipes as either packed or unpacked. If the recipe calls for a packed cup, use a spoon to firmly pack the sugar into the measuring cup and continue adding until the cup is completely full. Don't pack any ingredient unless the recipe calls for it.
Scrape any remaining food out of the cup. Use the same method as you did with the liquid measure.