The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Measuring liquid in ounces

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pseudobaker's picture
pseudobaker

Measuring liquid in ounces

It could be because I'm Canadian, but I'm confused by this (we're mainly metric up here)...

 

When you're measuring water by weighing, do you measure in ounces or fluid ounces?  I have settings for both on my scale...

 

Thanks!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

on my gram scale. I don't use ml any more. Mini Oven

10 years ago I bought a US fluid oz measuring cup; 8 Fl oz = 227ml

5 years ago bought another US fluid oz measuring cup; 8 Fl oz = 250ml  

Most older American recipes use 8 Fl oz = 227ml so keep that also in mind when converting!  

pseudobaker's picture
pseudobaker

Fluid ounces is a volumetric measurement?  Interesting - I wonder why I am able to measure it on my scale, then.

 

But that answers my question - if a recipe has a liquid measured in ounces, it's not fl. oz. they're asking for.

 

I prefer grams, too - it's just easier (and what I'm used to).

 

 

sourdough-guy's picture
sourdough-guy

I'm not sure if you're being facetious or not but you're a nice guy so I'll assume you're being serious. 'Fluid' means able to flow, so fluid ounces are volumetric measurements. You have a setting on your scales because 1 oz of water will always be 1 oz (in the same location and at 4°C/ 60°F)  but 1 fluid oz is not the same as 1 oz; you can google this if you're in doubt. 1 ml is the same as 1 g at 4°C however.

Sourdough-guy

sphealey's picture
sphealey

=== You have a setting on your scales because 1 oz of water will always be 1 oz (in the same location and at 4°C/ 60°F) but 1 fluid oz is not the same as 1 oz ===

Somewhat of an odd source for a breadbaking blog, but this month's Flying Magazine's "I Learned About Flying From That" column has an essay by a former Navy helicopter pilot who came very close to learning the hard way that jet fuel and milk do not have the same density:  he was about to take off from a supply ship when he was asked at the last minute to take a load of milk; he assumed incorrectly that he could carry as much milk as he could fuel as cargo. It turned out that milk is 30% denser than jet fuel and he came about 12 inches (30 cm) from crashing ;-(

Most measuring systems are set up so that one standard small unit of volume of water weights one standard small unit of weight [1]. But that is often an approximation, and holds for water only - not milk, syrup, etc.

sPh

[1] We will skip the discussion about weight vs. mass and assume for the moment we are baking only on the surface of the Earth in one standard gravity!

pudnpie's picture
pudnpie

Hi - does your recipe have the baker's percentages? I work in grams and whenI have a recipe in imperial measurements I convert the flour from oz to g and work out the rest from the percentages. Makes life so much easier, especially when it says something like .22 oz etc. Not much help if your recipe doesn't have it though - and sorry if I am stating the obvious :)

 

Alison

pumpkinpapa's picture
pumpkinpapa

Being Canadian as well, I go back and forth on it, being a farmer as well you don't want to know all the odd measurements here. Metric, US imperial, British imperial, et al.

I always use fluid measurement for liquids, perhaps I'm messing the recipe up a bit but when it is time to taste, time will tell.

Actually whenever I see one of RLB's recipe's that use's egg's I get distracted, I know a large egg is not always a certain amount of liquid ounces. Oops I'm straying from the topic ;)

pseudobaker's picture
pseudobaker

The recipe in question didn't have any baker's percentages (otherwise, I would have used them!).  Actually, this is the first recipe book I've used that hasn't had both oz/g measurements.

 

Sourdough-guy - I'm not being facetious....when we learn about liquid volume (way back in grade 3 or whatever it is), we learn about metric - mL, cL, L, etc.  In Canada, the Imperial system of measure is somewhat in the vernacular, in that most people will measure their weight in pounds, measure their height in feet and inches, but other measures are routinely done in metric (km/hr, etc).  Mostly, we can translate between the two.  But fluid ounces is one thing I have never come across before.

 

Sphealey, interesting story. 

Rudolph's picture
Rudolph

 If we were all to post recipes in metric we would all be singing from the same hymn sheet. I am prepared to give up my imperial measurements if you americans are prepared to give up your 'cups'.

Rudolph

Rosalie's picture
Rosalie

I'm all ready to give up cups. But I still have a lot of recipes that give cups and not weights. So I still need to be flexible.

Rosalie

BROTKUNST's picture
BROTKUNST

I think everybody is aware of the fact that ml equal grams as far is water is concerned (and milk, wine, vinegar, ... for that matter). So all the fluid oz can be easily converted to ml (g). Not a problem at all if you have a scale that can switch the units.

 

BROTKUNST

sphealey's picture
sphealey

=== I think everybody is aware of the fact that ml equal grams as far is water is concerned (and milk, wine, vinegar, ... for that matter) ===

Be aware that this is not strictly correct. Milk for example is about 4% denser than water (1.04 g/ml vs. 1.00 g/ml for average whole milk). That probably doesn't matter at the amounts we bake, but it would for other liquids (molassas for example) or if you were making batches for a bakery.

sPh

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

Im about as Red/White/and Blue, as a big American guy could be, but Im all for giving up everything and using grams for it all.  Also I would have to take some time to learn bakers percentage, because the more I read and hear, the more I need to.

Im all twisted up with Cups/Ounces/Teaspoons and everything else in my melon of a head.

I would love to go to grams...........

Just my opinion

TT

maggie664's picture
maggie664

Yes,all these variances are annoyingly confusing. Metric measures (including the 250ml standardised cup measure) are almost compatible between Australia and NZ, except for the std.ised Tablespoon! In Over 'the ditch' (read the Tasman Sea) in Australia they have a 4 teaspoon Tablespoon measure (or 20ml) but here in NZ we have a 3 teaspoon Tablespoon (or 15ml). In my computer I have hundreds of recipes from multiple sources; so their place of origin is unknown ( and may have been translocated anyway). Translating quantities is bearable so long as one knows the conversion formulae. My opinion is that one's own cooking experience and intuition overrides all these discrepencies in the end. 'Everyone learns from their own mistakes' - and this applies to cooking and baking too !!

Pseudobaker Do people really weigh fluids?!! One fluid ounce = 28• something ml., 8 fluid ounces=250ml.,1 gallon =4•2 litres, as i understand it

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

So I really do beg forgiveness for asking dumb a** questions but my scale is an old digital postal scale and doesn't have grams. So what I've been doing for grams is to use a gram converter I found online. But when it comes to water I'm really getting stumped (dumb I know).

So my sourdough starter recipe calls for equal weights of flour and water. And also gave the measurement using 1/4 cup of flour as the guide. So here's what I did. I weighed how much a 1/4 cup was (0.07lb) and then I added water to the bowl that had been tared until it read 0.14lb. Did I do this correctly or am I just being a dolt here? (OK, I know the two aren't mutually exclusive! bwahahahaha!)...But still?

sphealey's picture
sphealey

=== o my sourdough starter recipe calls for equal weights of flour and water. And also gave the measurement using 1/4 cup of flour as the guide. So here's what I did. I weighed how much a 1/4 cup was (0.07lb) and then I added water to the bowl that had been tared until it read 0.14lb. ===

Did you hit Tare in between the flour and water, or just after the bowl?

My scale automatically zeros when you turn it on, so I always put the bowl on then turn on the scale and it comes up at zero. But if not:

  1. Turn on scale
  2. Put bowl on scale
  3. Press the Zero button - scale should now read 0.00
  4. Add 0.07 lb flour
  5. Add water until reading is 0.14 lb - this gives you 0.07 lb flour + 0.07 lb water = 0.14 lb total dough

Done!

An alternate method would be:

  1. Turn on scale
  2. Put bowl on scale
  3. Press the Zero button
  4. Add 0.07 lb flour - readout is now 0.07 lb
  5. Press the Tare button - readout is now 0.00
  6. Add 0.07 lb water - readout is now 0.07 lib
  7. Press the Gross/Net button - readout is now 0.14

Done!

It is really harder to write and read these directions than it is to actually do it, so don't get discouraged. Play around a little bit and you will see that weighing is actually easier than volume measuring.

sPh

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

I put the bowl on, tared. Added the flour to .07 then added water to .14, no tare in between!!!

 

Whooohaaaa! So the question is...is water the only thing you can treat this way from a weight standpoint? Here it is in advance...my "Doh!" :D Thanks!

sphealey's picture
sphealey

> I put the bowl on, tared. Added the flour to .07 then

> added water to .14, no tare in between!!!

Well, you ended up with twice as much water as you wanted (hydration percentage of 200%) but that doesn't really matter for a preferment so no worries.

> So the question is...is water the only thing you can treat this

> way from a weight standpoint?

That is what took me a while to figure out (even with chem lab and measurement engineer experience): scales are actually easier than volume measurements because making changes comes down to very simple arithmetic. If Floyd says "use 80% hydration" and you have 600g of flour (4 cups more or less) you just pop a spouted contained on the scale, zero it, and pour water until you hit 480g. No crouching and squinting to read the lines on the measuring cup or guessing where the liquid level is. Same for other ingredients such as seeds, sugars, etc.

Once I figured that out I understood what bakers percentages were for and how to use them and it was suddenly a lot easier to change the size of recipes and modify them. If I add, say, 60g of sunflower seeds (about 1/3 cup) to a recipe I can easily determine how much water to add to keep the percentage the same. Messing around with fluid oz and fractional cups takes a lot longer (I even bought a calculator that does fractions but it didn't help).

One thing that helps is to have a cups-to-weight chart handy. I am working on entering the one in RLB's The Bread Bible into a spreadsheet that will be easy to print and hang on the wall, but Rose said she would have to talk to her publisher before posting it on her web site. In the meantime you might want to check The Bread Bible out of the library and look at that chart in the appendix.

sPh

 

dolfs's picture
dolfs

While the conversion chart is useful, it still requires you to do math etc. I've been working on this spreadsheet for recipes that handle percentages, but also provides volume measurements for this that want it. To make this work, it has a list of ingredients that, among other things, includes each ingredients specific gravity. Specific gravity is what allows you to accurately convert from weight to volume.

That a look at this recipe: Spinach Cheese Boule Recipe

You'll note that for each ingredient, there is a volume in the "US Volume" column. The spreadsheet also attempts to express volume in the most useful units (Cups with fractions for larger amounts, tablespoons, teaspoons, pinches etc. for smaller amounts). The important part here is that as you change the desired dough weight, all the white columns, including the volume, get recomputed so scaling recipes and still knowing volumes (for friends that bake that way :-).

I got a lot of the data from the USDA web site, but I've also added some myself. The latter involves putting a measuring cup on the scale, tare it, fill it up with one cup of the desired substance, and then reading out the weight. Do it several times and average to compensate for variability in the way you "pack" the substance (for flour you should spoon it, for example).

The spreadsheet has several other pages with helpful conversion formulas:

  • Type the name of an ingredient and amount of cups (decimal) and you'll get lbs, oz, and grams.
  • Type in an amount and ingredient and get this expressed as cups, tablespoons, teaspoons etc, and converted back to the % it would be in the current recipe.
  • Compute desired dough weight and flour amount from desired finished loaf weight and (estimated) baking loss
  • Conversion of percentages, or weight, between fresh yeast, instant yeast, and active dry yeast
  • Conversions of dry milk + water to real milk + water
  • Conversions between sugar, honey, splenda based on sweetening power
  • A version where you don't enter baker's percentages, but rather grams or decimal pounds, andyou'll get back the percentages. This is very useful when you want to convert existing recipes without percentages to percentage based formulas.
  • I'm about to add some functionality to predict fermentation time based on a known reference time and temperature
The spreadsheet is not quite ready, but if there is sufficient interest, I can share it with some of you to play with and get feedback for improvements.

--dolf
bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

And btw, your bread looked gorgeous! I would be interested! I don't know if remedial me will be able to give good feedback lol, but I'd try!

 

BZ

Bill_C's picture
Bill_C

jumbosack.com has conversion values (lbs/cuft and g/cc) for a a great many materials, some of which we would use in baking.  Have you installed the Analysis Toolpak add-in for excel?  It has a very handy convert function.

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

haha! Hey thanks so much for answering this question for me. I know it sounds rediculous for a woman my age to ask 5th grade questions but I KNOW I'm not smarter than a 5th grader!

Hey here's a site that I am using to convert my grams to ounces and pounds for my scale. It will also do grams to cups/tsp etc.

Maybe I will play around with that for you this weekend and see if I can get a simple chart output for us.

http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/gram_calc.htm

sphealey's picture
sphealey

Remember your friend from 7th grade who said "I'll never need to use this ratio stuff in real life!"? Well, she was wrong ;-)

Luckily it is just 7th grade arithmetic and (as embarrasing as it might be to watch "Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader" - I usually lose at the 4th grade level when I try to play along) anyone who can read this web site can do it.

sPh

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

ratios/fractions/measurements AND geometry. I also said it about unit measurements like rulers.

The big laugh is on me cuz I have to work with ruler measure all the time! :D

I sometimes only make it to the 3rd grade level! <blush>

dolfs's picture
dolfs

Use http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/cookingconversions.asp

The one you mention does not take into account the density of a substance. a Cup is always the same grams on that one. The one linked above uses USDA data.
--dolf

T4tigger's picture
T4tigger

My mom was a home economics major, so from the time I was old enough to pay attention, I learned the following:

3 tsp = 1 Tbsp

4 Tbsp = 1/4 cup

1 cup = 16 Tbsp

1 mL water = 1 gram

and my favorite---a pint is a pound the world around (water).

For other liquids, I have just measured things in a liquid measuring cup and then weighed to see how many grams I have. 

 

dolfs's picture
dolfs

While your equivalences for volume are correct, it is worth noting that 1ml = 1 gram is only true for water (and that, technically, only at 4C or 39.2F). Also, a pint is not a pound. It is actually 1.04125 pounds, because a pint is defined as 1/8 of a gallon, and a gallon of water weighs 8.33 pounds!

Lest you might thing the difference is immaterial, notice that it amounts to 0.66 oz, or 18.73 grams, for one pint. For those of us that think weighing ingredients is important, that it too much a difference.
Having said all that, depending on how one fills a pint measure with some substance (e.g. flour), you can get drastically different outcomes that vary by more than the 0.7 oz. so if you are measuring ingredients by volume, go ahead and use the rule, even though it is not accurate.

--dolf

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

oops, zap me Jmonkey!

JMonkey's picture
JMonkey

Not sure what you wanted me to do, actually, but I hope that suffices. ;-)

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I was hopping you could erase my blooper.  Thanks anyway.  I learned " A pint's a pound the world around."   I use it as a rough measurement nowadays.    Mini Oven

bluezebra's picture
bluezebra

Mini I just heard Alton say that again this week and now it's like a little record spinning around in my head!

Does it help to know we're "out there"? LOL, it's sorta a misery loves company thing you know? haha!

andrew_l's picture
andrew_l

Now this thread has totally confused me! We learned as children , here in the UK, that "A pint of pure water weighs a pound and a quarter". 20 fluid ounces. So this is another problem with using UK / USA recipe books to look out for!
Andrew

dolfs's picture
dolfs

NRO columnist and NR contributing editor John Derbyshire responds:
A pint of pure water DOES weigh a pound and a quarter: Not in the U.S., though. For some reason, you pilgrims decided to downgrade the noble British pint by one sixth (i.e. a U.S. pint is only 5/6 of a British pint). Yet another reason why you should return to the protection of the Crown.

--dolf

Susan's picture
Susan

Heavens to Betsy! We've been undercutting ourselves for all these years?!?

Susan

mse1152's picture
mse1152

!!!  Oftentimes, either my partner or I will say, after finishing a beer, "Beer should come in pints".  Now we'll have to say "Beer should come in British pints".

Cheerio!

Sue 

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

Bwahh, ha, ha, ha.....

Yep, thats what we need, protection of the crown. 

We've had our share of English rule, and kicked it to the curb a while back (American Revolutionary War).

I never will understand why some English folks feel the need to post some political slight against the U.S. on here.

Why is this working me up so much, probably because this is like the third or forth time I have seen this type of post brought up.  A post pitting English against American.  It's enough.

Ive served my country in not one, but in two different branches of the military.  And I can assure you our force is quite different than the simple militia we once had.

I love my country, but do not come on here and say negative comments about any other nation.  And it would be great if people would keep there political comments on the political websites that Im sure exist for just that reason. 

TT

mse1152's picture
mse1152

TT,

I believe it was meant as a humorous comment, coming from this long discussion of differences in measuring units between US and European countries.

Sue 

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

I agree this thread is about units of measure, and I even posted I would love to give up all types and go grams. 

But that doesnt change the point that this is the third or forth time I have come on this site and read some English post that was aimed as a negative slight against the U.S.

I dont put down others, and dont think it is right for it to be done, even tongue in cheek. 

TT

dolfs's picture
dolfs

I think you're not reading all of it accurately. My post, which is only explaining the original of the previous poster's measurement/conversion, only quotes a Brit as it clearly, and in bold, states. It does not mean I am one, and in fact I am not.

Secondly, I think all this is done in good humor, nobody is trying to offend anybody. If you are worried about that, good thing I am not offended by your presumption that I am English.


Finally, as a Dutch citizen, living in the US, I am well aware of the contribution both British and American forces have made (and still are making) to my life, eventhough I wasn't born until 15 years after WWII. I can appreciate that you, as a (former?) military person are sensitive to such issues, but I think you are wrong in your taking this particular post serious.

--dolf

tattooedtonka's picture
tattooedtonka

I thank you for your explanation.  And as you stated I assumed wrong myself.  I read this as yet another slight by an English person about the US. 

I apologize for jumpin to conclusions against you.

TT

Susan's picture
Susan

Just smile to yourself when you perceive a slight, and think about those tiny British refrigerators they have to put up with! I can joke about this because I have a Brit brother-in-law and we trade insults all the time, goodnaturedly, of course.

Susan

sphealey's picture
sphealey

I personally enjoy the differences among British Imperial, Imperial Imperial, ISO Imperial, US Imperial, US ANSI, ISO ANSI, metric, and SI measuring systems and I think the world is a richer place for having more than one such. But there is no question the situation can be a bit silly at times.

I mean, in Engand a barkeep can be put in jail for selling you beer in milliliters while a greengrocer can be put in jail for selling you bananas in lbs! And until the current road sign upgrade is completed, which might be years, the correct units for fuel economy in England are miles/liter! Or even miles/liter/stone if you want to bring passenger weight into it.

Now is that a British Imperial or a Canadian Imperial stone...

sPh

davesmall's picture
davesmall

I hate it when I see a recipe calling for 'cups' of flour or 'ounces' of a liquid.


A cup of flour can weigh somewhere between 90 grams and 150 grams depending on how compacted it is. There is a big difference between a cup of flour scooped out of a storage container and one sifted into a measuring container.


If the recipe calls for 2 pounds of flour and 28 ounces of water did the author mean 28 fluid ounces or 28 ounces of weight?


I wish all recipes would use weights in grams and so indicate.