Are your measuring cups up to snuff?

With the holiday baking season fast approaching, now's the time to make sure you've got all your ducks in a row.

Pantry stocked? Check. All the appliances in good working order? Check.

Recipes selected? Well, not yet, but half the fun of baking is browsing through all those cookbooks and folders and online bookmarks, deciding what to make, right?

Here's a tip that might just save you a world of trouble this season: check the accuracy of your measuring cups.

I recently bought a set of discount-store measuring cups. All I really wanted was a 2-cup liquid measure, but hey, the set came with 1, 2,- and 4-cup measures, so why not?

Here's why not –

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I decided to check the accuracy of my new cups. And I'm so glad I did, because boy, were they off!

I used my scale to pour 6 ounces (3/4 cup) of water into one of my old, trustworthy 1-cup measures (left), and into my new 1-cup measure (right).

Old trusty – fine. Newbie – um, does it look like that 6 ounces of water reached the 3/4-cup mark?

Nope.

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Next I tried 8 ounces in the 2-cup measure. A trusted cup on the left – perfect. And on the right: again, does that look accurate to you?

In retrospect, I should have known these new cups were crazy wrong. I mean, look at the measurements on the top – first I ever heard that 2 cups and "2 quart" are the same amount.

Sigh...

And how about dry measuring cups?

While there's no dry ingredient that's quite as accurate a measuring tool as water, I find plain granulated sugar works very well for checking your dry measures.

A cup of granulated sugar weighs 7 ounces. So 1/4 cup = 1 3/4 ounces; 1/3 cup = 2 1/3 ounces (which I'll round up to 2 3/8), and 1/2 cup = 3 1/2 ounces.

Using your scale, weigh the empty cup. Dip it into the sugar canister, and use the back of a table knife to level it off. Set the cup on the scale.

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How'd you do?

I use stainless steel measuring cups, which are thankfully very accurate and not prone to damage in the dishwasher, as my plastic (liquid measuring) cups can be.

So, have I convinced you? Grab your scale, your measuring cups, and some water and sugar, and do the accuracy tests.

Trust me, your holiday breads, cookies, and cakes will thank you.

Looking for some guaranteed accurate measuring cups – and spoons, and scales? We've got a great selection for you.

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Filed Under: Tips and Techniques
PJ Hamel
The Author

About PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!