Monday, January 20, 2014

You Need a Digital Scale

About thirteen years ago, I decided I needed a scale for my kitchen and, not knowing anything about kitchen gear or scales, went out and bought a cheap analog one. What I didn't know at the time was that even though I don't bake by weight like many people do, a scale was going to become absolutely indispensable in my kitchen.

From weighing chocolate to butter, nuts, dry pasta and more; if you name it, I probably weighed it for something.What I liked is that it took much of the guess work out of my cooking. Need a pound of potatoes? I weighed them. Five ounces of chocolate? 8oz of pasta from giant box? That too. Where it became really indispensable though was when it came to butter. No longer was I trying to guess from the marks on the wrapper or stuffing the greasy stuff into measuring cups, I could just weigh it.

Butter weights:

8 oz = 1 cup
6oz = 3/4 cup
5.36 oz = 2/3 cup
4 oz = 1/2 cup
2.68 oz = 1/3 cup
2 oz = 1/4 cup

Food blogging, or cooking more and writing for other sites, has taught me a lot and over the last while I began looking into digital scales. I wanted to try my hand at baking using a scale, and I found that for all the usefulness I found in my analog scale, it wasn't quite as accurate as I liked.

My teenager, bless his heart, bought me a digital scale for Christmas at Hendrix in Abbotsford. This baby runs on AA batteries and also can weigh liquid, which is a feature I didn't count on. It's blazingly accurate, so there's really no more guess work when I'm baking. You can also switch between ounces or grams at the press of a button. I love that conversions are so easy, now!

There are all kinds of digital scales out there on the market. If you're looking into them, there's some things to consider:

-Easy cleaning and design: I like one that is small enough to fit on my counter and not take up too much space, but that also doesn't have a lot of crevices and spaces for flour and other powdery substances to get into and mess up with the accuracy. If you don't have a lot of counter space, there are a lot of scales that are small and can fit into a drawer. One that has a backlit display is also useful.

-A tare function: One of the most useful functions on a scale is the tare button, which allows you to re-set the scale to zero even with weight on it. This lets you weigh things without the additional weight of the container added in. It's super useful and lets you use all kinds of different sized containers.

-How much it will weigh: Depending on how much you plan to use it, you may want to look at how much the scale will weigh. Mine goes to 5 lbs, which I think it enough for me, but if you think you'd weigh more than there are scales that will go higher. The best scales will read all the way down to .01 ounces, or by the gram.

You don't need to be a serious cook to find a scale useful. Once you get used to using one for butter, chocolate, nuts, or pasta, you'll wonder how you survived without one.

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