Monday, 6 October 2014

American Measures

I frequently post recipes using American cup measurements and am just as frequently asked 'what is a cup?'   The American practice of measuring ingredients by volume rather than weight may seem more complicated and less accurate than using kitchen scales...and it probably is...but there is a logical reason for this practice


 

It seems that when people began to immigrate from Europe to settle in the United States they had to leave most of their belongings behind. Once the settlers arrived, they needed to begin setting up house all over again.  This was an expensive prospect and the cost of purchasing spring loaded kitchen scales was more than the average pioneer family could afford.  Everyone had a cup for drinking and spoons for cooking and serving.  It's easy to see how these common implements became the basis for our American measuring system.  



Let's consider the tea cup as a measure, because that's exactly what those pioneer women were using.  Our tea cup would hold 8 ounces of tea so a measurement of 1 CUP equals 8 ounces.  



I know, you are thinking this jug is for measuring liquid but it's exactly what you need when making those American recipes.  Often a recipe will call for 1/2 cup of an ingredient...



So 1/2 cup equals 4 ounces.    And if a recipe calls for 1/4 cup ....



Then you measure out 2 ounces because 1/4 cup equals 2 ounces.   Yes, this why they teach fractions in elementary schools all across America, so we can learn how to bake brownies!  



All this American cup stuff is very straight forward until you come to the 1/3 cup measure.  It's just messed up and you probably won't see it used very often but when you do just remember it's JUST ABOUT 3 ounces.  



The trick is to keep in mind you are measuring both wet and dry ingredients by volume not weight.  So here's everything you need to know about American Cup Measures:

1 cup = 8 ounces
3/4 cup = 6 ounces
1/2 cup = 4 ounces
1/4 cup = 2 ounces
1/3 cup = ALMOST 3 ounces

If it's any consolation, I still can't get my head around this metric measuring stuff!  


12 comments:

  1. I have no problem with American cups for everything except butter! How much is in a US stick of butter, that drives me nuts!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Each stick of butter weighs four ounces and when melted is equal to 1/2 cup. Hope that helps, Janice. : )

      Delete
  2. I bought some measuring cups from a US place and my friend gave me some when she visited from America and the cups are completely different sizes. I tested them out with flour and the amounts were were so different for the 'same' size cups!
    I agree with Janice, the sticks of butter is what puts me off American recipes. I've googled it before and the conversions all change too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, Sisley! I have a set of measuring cups from America and a set I bought here in the UK and they are different sizes. I find the Pyrex jug matches the American cup sizes perfectly. In the States, a stick of butter weighs four ounces which is equivalent to 1/2 cup. : D

      Delete
    2. i have this Pyrex measuring jug in the picture above is it accurate in measuring or no?t

      Delete
    3. I think your Pyrex jug should work just fine. : D

      Delete
    4. Is there a different in accuracy between that pyrex which made in France and that made in USA.? And how can i callibrate my measuring cups.

      Delete
  3. I purchased those american cup measures from amazon, I absolutely love them, so cute.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I couldn't live without my measuring cups!

      Delete
  4. Janice read my mind I was just about to ask the butter question! Its virtually impossible to measure butter and get it back out of the cup without creating a right mess, or is that just me ;) Note to self 1 stick = 2 ounces!

    Thanks Debs very useful post.

    Angela

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Butter is sold by the pound in the States, and usually in the form of four sticks of butter. So each stick weighs 4 ounces. When you melt it, a stick will measure 1/2 cup or 4 fluid ounces. Now don't ask me to convert that to the metric system... I haven't a clue! : Dx

      Delete
  5. If you want to see if your measuring cups are accurate try this little test. Weigh out four ounces of butter, melt it and pour it into your measuring cup. Four ounces of butter in weight should be equal to 4 fluid ounces in your measuring cup. This is equal to 1/2 cup in American measures.

    ReplyDelete