Author Topic: imperial measurements  (Read 6055 times)

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Slartibartfast

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imperial measurements
« on: August 03, 2011, 10:54:16 PM »
This may be a dumb question, but does anyone else use non-metric measurements besides the US?  For metric-measuring countries, how do your recipes break up things?  We've got assortments of measuring cups (fractions of teaspoons, tablespoons, cups, and occasionally dry or wet ounces).  It's hard to convert and, say, make a triple batch of cookies because you have to remember whether it's three teaspoons to a tablespoon and four tablespoons to a cup (or is it a quarter cup?), or maybe it's the other way around?  Then we have some things sold by weight but used in recipes by volume, like chocolate chips (12-oz bags but always measured in cups).

If you're used to metric, are you pretty much expected to be able to convert/multiply quantities in your head, since it's mostly by factors of 10?

kareng57

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #1 on: August 03, 2011, 11:05:49 PM »
Don't ask a Canadian. :)  We can't decide.

About 25 years ago, metric-measuring instruments (cups, spoons etc.) were readily available, along with cookbooks that were metric-only, because Conversion was imminent.  And no one liked it...So we're "sort of" metric in that many food cans contain odd amounts such as 398 ml.  If I'm buying a large piece of poultry/beef such as a turkey, I still think in terms of pounds, although the bird is labelled in kilograms.  I just divide by 2 1/2, close enough.  And every newborn baby announcement is still made in pounds, not Kg.

The main thing is with baking - stick to either metric or imperial, don't try to mix/substitute.  (Although I can't think of where those metric-measurement baking spoons that I dutifully bought ended up - my 2-cup measure gives both).  I believe that in the UK measuring ingredients by weight is still common - I wouldn't try to convert unless the recipe-writer really knew what she was doing.

Cuddlepie

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #2 on: August 03, 2011, 11:13:08 PM »
Australia converted to the metric system when I was young.

So my recipes are a mixture of -

1.  new recipes with metric measurements (mls, grams etc)
2.  old recipes using imperial measurements (pints, ounces etc)
3.  family recipes  (teaspoons, cups, and best of all.... a little bit of this ingredient)
4.  the recipes inside my head where I just add stuff by look and what's in the cupboard.

Somewhere   :-[    I have a list (from school days) giving how many teaspoons in a tablespoons and multiples along those lines.  Would you like me to dig it out and post the list?

Ligeia

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #3 on: August 03, 2011, 11:43:04 PM »
Don't ask a Canadian. :)  We can't decide.

About 25 years ago, metric-measuring instruments (cups, spoons etc.) were readily available, along with cookbooks that were metric-only, because Conversion was imminent.  And no one liked it...
<snip>

I think that's hilarious--because as an American kid in the 80s, we were told in elementary school that conversion was imminent!  Our parents assured us it was true; every other country was converting! And every year, part of our math education included endless conversion problems, testing, and so on, and then . . . the revolution never came.  The massive changes we were told would happen simply refused to happen--to this day, I don't know a soul who uses kilometers instead of miles, meters instead of feet, etc., in their everyday lives.  And, as a kid, I thought that was so hilarious; those teachers and other adults were so sure, yet so wrong.

Of course, they were right about science--American scientists (and some other industries) do use the metric system, for obvious reasons.  Yet all those elementary school lessons in imperial-to-metric conversion were for naught for most of us.

Ereine

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2011, 11:49:26 PM »
Finland has apparently used the metric system since late 19th century so nobody alive remembers the old measurements, I don't even really know what they were. Some older recipes will use measurements like "a coffee cup" but modern recipes use mostly liters, deciliters and grams (grams are mostly used for things like butter, though it's more exact measuring for everything as the amount of for example flour in a deciliter can vary). Milliliters are hardly used, instead we use spoon measurements which are accurate if you use the official measuring spoons but I think probably everyone just uses regular tea and table spoons. A table spoon is 15 ml which is three tea spoons but I think that if I was doubling a recipe that called for two teaspoons of  something I'd just use the teaspoon four times and not figure out that it's one table spoon and one teaspoon. I don't think that multiples of ten really enter much in making recipes bigger, unless you're making it ten times bigger. Of course you might end up with having to use 15 dl of flour for example, in which case it's easier to think of it as 1.5 liters but it doesn't really have any effect as all measuring cups that are that big will most likely also have the deciliters. It's probably easier to do things like multiply a recipe by 1.5 with a metric system, I would imagine.

JoW

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2011, 12:05:31 AM »
I think Yemen still uses imperial measurements.  Maybe pne or two other small countries. 

The US is becoming more metric-literate.  We get soft drinks in 2 liter bottles.  Packages in the grocery store are marked in pounds and grams.  The speedometers in our cars are marked in miles/hour and km/hour.  Road signs near Canada have distances in both sets of units.  That may be true near Mexico, too.  Measuring cups and measuring spoons are marked in both units. 

I work for a major pharmaceutical company.  I'm in the US, but everything we do at work is in metric units.  Everyone in the facility is fluent in both systems. 

It is my opinion that the US will gradually convert to the metric system, but it will take several decades. 

Ligeia

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2011, 01:06:30 AM »
Right, but it's been like that all my life, or at least as long as I can remember: soda has always been in liters, a lot of grocery stuff is marked in grams and so on.  All my and my family's cars have always had km/mile speedometers.  Yet I don't know anyone who actually looks at the metric part of scales or speedometers or measuring cups; in day-to-day life, when you're measuring distance or water for a recipe or weighing yourself, it's still all imperial.  Like I said, science and related industries converted to metric long ago, but I don't know anyone outside those industries who uses it on a regular basis. 

I'm just saying--it seems to me that the inroads made toward conversion haven't really made any progress for a couple decades.  I'm sure we'll convert some day, but the "revolution" seems to have stalled since I was a kid.  I find it amusing for some reason.

MariaE

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2011, 06:42:44 AM »
Denmark uses an odd mix. We measure large quantities in litres (or decilitres = 1/10litre) or grams/kilograms and small quantities in teaspoons and tablespoons.

However, measuring spoons will have values written on them, so my teaspoons says that it's 5ml and my tablespoon that it's 15ml which makes it a lot easier when making large batches ("Right, so I need 10 tablespoons, that's 150ml so 1.5 dl!)
 
Dane by birth, Kiwi by choice

Bethalize

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2011, 07:00:52 AM »
The UK uses both. I'm 35 and I grew up using imperial at home and metric at school. Now I use metric for everything apart from sponge cakes and pastry. This is mostly  because everything has to be sold in metric amounts. Except for pints of beer.

Our dry ingredients are measured by weight not volume.


Thipu1

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2011, 09:08:11 AM »
I think left handed cooks in the USA have metric conversion a bit easier than others.  My measuring cups have old measurements printed on one side and metric measurements on the other.  As a lefty, the metric side is facing me when I pick up the cup.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #10 on: August 04, 2011, 10:58:52 AM »
Canadians use everything!  I have both Imperial and metric measuring spoons and cups and some that are marked with both so I can do what ever the recipe calls for.  But usually, if it is a metric recipe, I convert it to Imperial in my head.  I don't get too hung up on the differences between liquid and dry measurements, either, and just wing it.

1 tsp = ~5 ml
1 tbsp = 3 tsp = ~15 mL
2 tbsp = 1 oz
4 tbsp = 1/4 cup = 2 oz
1 cup = 8 oz = ~250 mL which is close to 250 g if the contents are close to water's density

But if a recipe calls for grams or pounds rather than mL or cups (weight vs volume), I will weigh out what I need to use.
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Larrabee

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #11 on: August 04, 2011, 11:04:11 AM »
The UK uses both. I'm 35 and I grew up using imperial at home and metric at school. Now I use metric for everything apart from sponge cakes and pastry. This is mostly  because everything has to be sold in metric amounts. Except for pints of beer.

Our dry ingredients are measured by weight not volume.


Our road signs and milometers in cars are still in miles not kilometres, most people still measure their height and weight in feet and inches, stones and pounds. 

I also grew up using metric at school and imperial at home, we also learnt the conversions at school so I can think in both relatively easily, apart from fluid ounces, I've never understood fluid ounces!

Ruelz

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #12 on: August 04, 2011, 11:53:16 AM »
Yes, Canucks use a bit of everything.

What drives me crazy though, is when we went metric - we mostly just converted imperial measurements to metric vs. going truly metric.

That means instead of using easy 250 ml, 500 ml measurements, we use 236 ml (8 oz), 295 (10 oz) etc.  Sometimes you can round it off, other times you can't.

And some things, like height and weight?  We still do totally imperial.
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Ligeia

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #13 on: August 04, 2011, 01:32:55 PM »
^ So Canada really isn't that different from the US, huh?  I've never seen a road sign in km here, but I see packages all the time with both metric and imperial, as in 236 ml (8 oz).  Is milk still sold in quarts and gallons?  Milk cartons/jugs usually have the ml printed on them, but nobody ever says they need a liter of milk (or 3.78 liters of milk). 

(Yes, I had to look that up.  I don't for a second remember how to do conversions in my head, despite all the conversions we did in elementary school.)
« Last Edit: August 04, 2011, 01:34:55 PM by Ligeia »

hobish

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Re: imperial measurements
« Reply #14 on: August 04, 2011, 01:46:43 PM »

Haha! Ligeia, i remember learning all that in school, too. Then i came home and excitedly told my Dad how we were going to switch to this fantastic new measuring system that made so much more sense ... and he laughed and said they told him the same thing in school  ;D I am amused by it, too.
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