Weights and measures at The Happy Potato
I grew up cooking with the imperial weight system and still struggle to envisage what 100 g should look like, or 300 mls. I made a determined effort to change to the metric system about five years ago, so I am like an expatriate who struggles to learn the new language properly.
My aid through all this is a wonderful set of digital scales that look like a book. I imagine the manufacturer fondly thought it would be kept with the cookery books but it certainly slides easily into the cupboard, is very easy to keep clean, and shows you just how few grains of sugar it takes to change what could be a crucial amount in a recipe.
I also cooked a lot when I lived in the US, and became used to their cup and stick measurement system (which sounds rather like an old fashioned playground game, but there you go). I brought a cup measure back with me along with some beloved cookery books, in the hope that I could recreate US recipes here in Blighty. Alas, that did not work, or certainly not for baking, and I have equally observed that continental European baking recipes do not seem to work easily here.
My theory is that our flours have different strengths of gluten in them across different continents. My advice is that if you wish to adapt a foreign recipe, try using proportions that you are familiar with from other recipes if you are having problems getting baked goods to work out.
The imperial/metric thing does not help when you realise that actually we have a guestimate scale and a real scale. Technically, 1 ounce is 28.35g but we usually convert it at 25g.
I think the only real rule I can offer you is don’t interchange – if you start out with one system then stick with it - advice I can dish out but I can’t be the only one standing in line at the cheese counter for half a pound of the £4.95 per kilo cheese please!
Metric conversion charts – softly converted
1 ounce or oz = 25g
2 oz = 50g
4 oz = 125g
8 oz = 225g
12 oz = 350g
14oz = 400g
16 oz = 450g
1 kilo = 2.2 lbs
¼ pint= 150 ml
½ pint= 300ml
1 pint= 600ml
1.5 pints = 900 ml
1.75 pints = 1 litre
American cup sizes
1 cup = 250 ml