Do you know what your measuring cup measures?

a collection of vintage and modern measuring vessels

Do you know what your measuring cup measures? I’m totally serious. I don’t mean the number printed or embossed on it, I mean the actual volume. It’s a common misconception that a 1 cup measure is the same volume around the world. To complicate things further, a measuring cup might have been calibrated for the country of manufacture, not the place of purchase. A cup measure in Asia isn’t the same volume as a cup measure in North America. Even worse, add a recipe that employs a different measure into the mix and the only recipe you may have is one for a culinary disaster.






Japan, Korea

US Legal cup

NZ, UK, Australia, SA, Canada

How to check what your measuring cup measures

  1. Set your cup on a set of digital scales.
  2. Press ‘tare’ to set the display to zero.
  3. Fill the measuring cup with water to its one cup level, that might be the top or to line printed or embossed on the cup.
  4. The reading on the scales will confirm the volume of your measuring cup.
  5. What does it measure? Is your measuring cup intended for your part of the world or the recipes you use?

Cook’s Notes

You’ve determined what cup volume you’re working with, how about the recipe? A cookbook or magazine may have a page of notes which will define the measures used.

An editor would fix these issues to suit the region when publishing an edition of a cookbook. But, we live in a digitally borderless world where recipes are shared online, knowing the measures of a recipe can make all the difference . Many reputable websites will have a dedicated page like these Cook’s notes, which will help you get the best results from a recipe.

If, like me you like using vintage cookbooks to gain inspiration, this site can help convert recipes for you. Or scour op shops for vintage measuring vessels (like in the photograph)that match the period when your cookbook was published.

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