Doing Justice to Kitchen Scales -published Jan 19, 2017
Sticking with the January theme of healthy eating, let’s have a look at why a kitchen scale might be a good accessory to your cooking tools. The first time I ever used a scale in the kitchen was for canning tomatoes. All the recipes in the canning books start with “Take 5 lbs. of ripe tomatoes (or cucumbers, etc.)” and so I purchased a simple spring scale to use for canning.
There are three types of kitchen scales. One is the old-fashioned and hard-to-find balance scale, where you place a known weight, say 8oz, on one side and then add food to the other until it balances. Another is the spring scale, usually with a bowl that you add food to and the little red arrow or dial moves around the face to indicate the weight as you fill the bowl. The third is the electronic or digital scale, battery operated, which is very accurate and has a number of handy features.
We have carried all three types of scales. Our most popular, and most reliable, have been the digital or electronic. The features of an electronic scale are hard to beat as it will weigh an item as small as one gram or .1 of an ounce, describe the weight in pounds, kilograms/grams and some scales offer measurements in fluid ounces as well. The TARE feature is invaluable for baking as you can zero back to nothing after every addition, to save measuring, dumping, measuring, dumping and so on. Several scales use lithium batteries, which give long life and are easy to find and replace.
So here’s the question, why would you need to use scales in the kitchen for any time other than pickling season? I can give you at least two good reasons: baking and dieting.
If you have ever looked at a baking recipe from the UK, you’ll note every dry ingredient is weighed rather than measured by cup or spoon. This has to do with humidity. The proportion of dry to rising agent (baking soda, yeast or baking powder), to wet ingredients, is what determines success in the bake. It is a science, quite literally. Our summer climate is quite different from our winter one, as we often are humid in the summer but dry in the winter with our well-heated homes. Think about what this would mean to flour or icing sugar. Those powdery particles harbor air-born moisture, even sitting in the cupboard. Weighing your dry ingredients is the most accurate measure as the moisture in the flour or sugar weighs with the powder.
Diet is such a harsh word but if you really want to know just how much you are eating, weighing a piece of chicken or beef is more accurate than guessing if it looks like it is the size of your palm. My palm could get pretty big if that chicken looks tasty. Measuring by estimating the size is fine if everything is the same thickness, but it isn’t.
Scales are available in a variety of shapes and sizes; some are flat with a slim profile, others fold away for minimal storage, and one style we carry is water resistant for measuring wet ingredients. Whatever you choose, if you bake or want to measure your food in-take, a kitchen scale is a ‘must-have’ kitchen tool. Ask us for a copy of our conversion guide, from measuring to weighing your food.
Absolutely Fabulous at Home
*Did You Know? In the 1770’s, Richard Salter first designed a spring scale. Salter is still one of the most recognized and reliable scale names in the weighing business today.
- Catherine Reid