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In most kitchens, keeping measuring equipment - even if not used frequently - is crucial for those cases where precise measurements are necessary. The need for proper measuring equipment is especially real for bakeries, where even minor differences in measurement can have a significant effect on the food result.
There is a variety of measuring equipment available, so try to consider your business’s specific measuring needs before determining your ultimate purchases.
Measuring Equipment Choices
Standard Measuring Cups
Standard measuring cups come in sets, with each cup representing a particular volume measurement (e.g. 4 oz., 8 oz., and 12 oz.). They are available in a variety of materials, including stainless steel and plastic, with stainless steel lasting longer and - depending on the grade of the steel - having an anti-bacterial quality to it. Though stainless steel measuring cups are more costly than plastic measuring cups, the initial cost of the cups is generally so low that stainless steel is much more popular.
Graduated Measuring Cups
Graduated measuring cups are usually made of glass or transparent plastic. Unlike standard measuring cups, graduated measuring cups feature markings denoting different volume measurements on the side of the cup. This gives a graduated measuring cup a great deal more versatility, as it can be used to measure all the various ingredients for an entire recipe by itself.
Graduated vs. Standard Measuring Cups
Due to the low cost of measuring cups, most kitchens usually end up stocking both standard sets and graduated cups, allowing them to shore up any missing volume measurements with the versatility of the graduated cup. Looking at them on their own, however, there are advantages and disadvantages to each type. Standard measuring cups are more useful if you have complicated recipes requiring you to set aside a number of different, precisely-measured ingredients before cooking. Graduated measuring cups are better for the kitchen with limited counter/shelf space or that simply have an infrequent measuring need that can be handled exclusively with a graduated cup.
Measuring spoons are necessary for adding small, exact quantities to your recipe, as measuring cups alone will not suffice for this purpose. Measuring spoons are available in plastic, stainless steel, and aluminum, among other materials. Measuring spoon sets come with multiple spoons, each of a different size to represent a different volume. The price is low enough to be a non-issue for most kitchens.
Kitchen scales - whether mechanical, digital, dough-measuring, or some other specialized type - are a game-changer in the commercial kitchen if you are willing to use them creatively and to exploit their full functionality. At a basic level, the ability to measure the weight of your ingredients before adding them to your recipes means that the measurements will be far more accurate to the recipe than if you had measured them by volume (i.e., a powder measured in a measuring cup or measuring spoon may not be as densely packed, and thus may not properly represent the quantity that you’re actually aiming for). Measuring ingredients via a kitchen scale is usually faster, too. At an advanced level, using the zero out function on a scale allows you to measure all your ingredients sequentially as they’re added to a single container that rests on the scale (the zero out function can be pressed after each ingredient is added, removing the weight of the container). Using a single container saves time on dishwashing, and many kitchens report that implementing a single-container measuring process is more efficient.
Though a dedicated scale can improve your measuring process, it may not make sense for your kitchen from a cost-perspective if you do not have a frequent need for precision measurement. As a general rule, most bakeries will want to take a serious look at kitchen scales, particularly digital scales, but many restaurants may find that a scale is unnecessary and that measuring cups and spoons are sufficient.