The Fresh Loaf

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Weighing ingredients, specific to salts

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berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

Weighing ingredients, specific to salts

OK, so I made this fantastic banana bread that calls for kosher salt. First time I made it by volume, second time by weighing (first time I was in a rush and didn't want to grab the scale). I think second time was better, but it was better in other ways too.


Someone(s) just asked for the recipe and I want to be clear about the salt in the recipe. I can't assume everyone will go out and buy kosher salt just to make these breads. So, I need to be able to say, "this much kosher salt, or this much table salt". I thought that would be simple enough until I started doing a little searching - all kosher salt is not created equal!


The kosher salt I have is Morton's Course Kosher salt, which now I read, is not as course as most other kosher salts. But I'm also going to to assume, that the Morton Kosher salt is the most common in many homes if people buy kosher salt  because that's what they can get at most grocery stores.


So, I went to Morton's site and their faq says they don't recommend baking with it (lack of practice? experience?) and then they provide comparison charts, one being a one to one volume comparison. See here: http://www.mortonsalt.com/salt_guide/index.html#conversion_chart


According to that chart, when I did the volume measurement of the morton's kosher salt, I put too much (and I do think it tasted salty). Second time, I weighed, they tasted right. So, just now I weighed a tablespoon of my Morton kosher salt (did so three times to be sure I was measuring accurately) and once I got 20 grams, the other two times I got 24 grams. The recipe calls for ELEVEN grams of kosher salt. That means I doubled the intended salt the first time I baked. According to other salt weights I've encountered, 1 tablespoon of table salt equals around 18 grams.


How can my kosher salt weigh that much more than table salt? So then, I weigh my table salt and I measure a tablespoon three times and get 32 grams, 26 grams, 28 grams on three successive tries, so around 28 grams per tablespoon. Is it my scale? (I have an older version of this scale: http://www.amazon.com/Soehnle-65105-Digital-Kitchen-Silver/dp/B000JG4C2W/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1280847660&sr=1-2 ). Could old batteries be throwing things off? (I've had the scale for 4-5 years and never have needed to change the batteries). or are my ingredients "wet"? (we didn't have AC for a month while we were waiting our turn for the technicians to install new) and then the last few days we turned it off as the weather was nice. But that doesn't make sense either - my table salt was in a sealed container.


ACK!!! Now what do I do? And if weighing is more accurate than volume, what does that mean that my weights are off? Is everything off equally? Or, am I messing up proportions?


 


Melissa

Dillbert's picture
Dillbert

the size and shape of the salt determines how "tightly" it will pack together - which affects the weight of a specified volume.


using the same spoon, measure three to five scraped tablespoons and weigh that - divide by five (for example) to get an average weight.


if you think it may be damp, stick the measured qty in a 250'F oven for 30 minutes.


as for 'messing up proportions' - that becomes a factor when dealing with very small quantities or very large quantities.  most in the middle can tolerate a fairly high amount of error before it makes a difference to your taste buds.


 


 

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

Well, I only weighed three times, but all three were far heavier than what charts say will be: Kosher salt averaged to be about 23 grams for morton's kosher salt. Table salt I measured three times and that averages 29 grams. Again, WAY more than the standard 18 grams (some sites say 15-16 grams per tablespoon for table salt).


I'm going to assume my flours most weigh more than standard too if it's a moisture issue. Ugh...

Ford's picture
Ford

Hear is my table for salt and for flour weights.  This assumes that the volume measurement is for sifted flour spooned into the measuring cup and leveled off with a straight blade.


Item                            Volume      Ounces      Grams


Salt, Kosher (coarse grained salt)    1 cup    5.6    159
Salt, Kosher (coarse grained salt)    1 Tbs.    0.3    9
Salt, table    1 cup    11.2    318
Salt, table    1 Tbs.    0.7    20


Flour, All-purpose, Unbleached    1 cup    4.3    120
Flour, buckwheat    1 cup    4.3    120
Flour, Bread, Unbleached    1 cup    4.3    120
Flour, Cake    1 cup    3.8    106
Flour, Pastry    1 cup    4    113
Flour, Potato    1/4 cup    1.5    43
Flour, Rye (pumpernickel, Arrowhead Mill)    1 cup    4    113
Flour, Rye (pumpernickel, Hodgson Mill, stone ground, coarser than Arrowhead)    1 cup    4.8    135
Flour, Semolina    1 cup    5.8    163
Flour, Whole Wheat finely milled (King Arthur)    1 cup    4.3    120
Flour, Whole Wheat (red), Graham flour, Arrowhead Mills    1 cup    4.7    132
Flour, Whole Wheat (white)    1 cup    4.5    127


Ford

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

WHich just confirms my weights are way off... but what to do about that?


 


But my flour weights were correct the other day, so my flour isn't heavy... I wonder if it's possible it's not accurate enough for smaller weights?

Dillbert's picture
Dillbert

very possibly - I didn't say it all too clearly, but what I meant was measure a total of five tablespoons into one container and weigh all five at once, not individually, divide the total by 5.


Ford's post shows another curiousity - there are 16 tablespoons per cup by volumetric definitions.  so if one tablespoon of kosher salt is 9 grams; 9x16=144 grams, not the measured (I presume) 159 grams.  theory holds that the larger the 'thing' you are measuring, the smaller the error - especially when 'translating' backward - i.e. I would have more faith in one cup = 159 gram; 159 gram divided by 16 = 9.9 grams per tablespoon.


the whole question of translating specified volumes into weight is not so simple.

Ford's picture
Ford

Mea culpa.  I guess I'll have to do the measurements myself, instead of relying on what someone else has written.  Later, Gator.


Ford

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

is that how you use your scales makes a difference too.  Sneaking up to the amount can throw off a scales.  So if you slowly sprinkle the salt into a little dish, you may end up with more so ...  when you've reach the amount, pick up the dish and then set it back down to weigh again.  Remove any, and pick up the dish and replace again to weigh.  Keep doing this until you get the same amounts.

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

This is definitely true and something I discovered a couple years ago. The salt I measured was a filled a level tablespoon, all at once poured onto a plate. With measuring small ingredients, I most often lift off the bowl/plate to reweigh if it's been measures in those slow, getting up to weight

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

amount,  change the batteries or put into brighter light with a solar scale.

berryblondeboys's picture
berryblondeboys

I haven't tried the different readings for the same amount - that's interesting.


 


I was getting a new scoop each time to see how 'accurate' I can say my tablespoons are from scoop to scoop. But yes, I should check to be sure that the same thing weighs the same amount every time - that definitely can lead me to believe that something's up with the batteries.

subfuscpersona's picture
subfuscpersona

...may not be accurate for small amounts.


In the USA, digital scales for the home user typically have an advertised margin of error of (plus) 2 grams to (minus) 2 grams from the "true" weight. This is a rather narrow margin of error and some digital scales may be considerably less accurate.


If you're a home baker and you measure your ingredients by weight, a small deviation of a few grams plus or minus for major ingredients (flour, water, levain, etc.) is unimportant. If you're a home baker weighing salt, instant yeast or other ingredients that are typically a very small percentage of the total flour weight, it is easy to be off and you may be able to tell the difference in the finished product.


I own an Ohaus balance scale, which weighs in grams and is quite accurate. These scales are still available on eBay at reasonable prices. If weight accuracy for small amounts is important to you, a scale such as this one is a useful investment.


Ohaus balance scale


Translating small amounts to volume equivalents is an iffy proposition at best. Weight (in grams) using an accurate scale is the better solution.

008cats's picture
008cats

Mini's right about the "sneaking up" approach throwing off scale accuracy (even tho I purchased an Oxo scale, thanks v. much Cooks Illustrated). I've seen a digital measuring spoon which is accurate to smaller amounts, but since i don't have one, I do my smaller measurements by volume, throwing it into the mix on the scale and watching for the resulting readout. This is consistent for me; since I don't eat much salt I can really pick out it's taste and do not care for oversalted food.

Chuck's picture
Chuck

What works best for me is to have a second small digital scale with a resolution of tenths of a gram (and a typical max capacity something like only 100 grams, which means it won't work for the "big" ingredients such as flour). These are readily available, and are essentially the same mechanism as in a "digital spoon", but in a form more like a pillbox. Using one of these, I can weigh everything and not have to use measuring spoons at all, which makes scaling a recipe up or down quite a bit simpler.


An advantage of a small scale over a digital spoon? It's a whole lot cheaper! Those digital spoons can easily cost two or three times what a small scale would cost. (And I suspect the small scale is easier to use too, as you need another hand to hold the digital spoon up, but you can set the small scale firmly on the counter.)

alldogz's picture
alldogz

I remember seeing this in my HBin5 book..luckily they posted it on their website..


there is a difference in the weights of table and kosher (and even kosher and kosher)...hope this helps...and it is a noticeable difference..i use very little salt, now i have all this canning salt from doing pickles..HELP.


1 tablespoon Table Salt


1 1/2 tablespoons Morton's Kosher Salt


2 tablespoons Diamond Kosher Salt

rayel's picture
rayel

Canning salt should be suitable for bread and other uses. I believe it is free of anti caking and other ingredients that keep table salt running freely.  When comparing with other salt, just see how much sodium there is in a given qty. of each. The info. is on the label.  Ray

Ju-Ju-Beads's picture
Ju-Ju-Beads

Canning salt does work very well for breads, or anything else.  In fact, because it has no anti-clumping additives, it has a much cleaner taste, and has become my preferred salt for baking and cooking of all kinds.  I still use kosher salt for salt-and-drain techniques --beef, eggplants, etc-- and good quality sea salt for finishing "nice" dishes; but for everyday use, canning and pickling salt beats table salt hands down.

alldogz's picture
alldogz

Well...there ya go....canning salt will be my preferred salt as well.. thanks!!!!


becky/alldogz

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

also has oz/g switch and has a "Total" button so I can measure up to 3000g a spoon at a time!  It just keeps adding the previous amount together until the total is reached.  Cool.  It comes apart and light for travel.   I'm "in love."  The spoon part has also lines for 1 tsp, 2tsp, 1 Tbsp and 1.5 Tbsp!  It is a Sunartis and cost around €20. (LINK)


Mini