now you know pt. 2
understanding ingredient measurements in recipes
Welcome back to NOW YOU KNOW, a 6-week series where, for our mid-week email, we’re going to discuss fundamental cooking knowledge that you might not know, totally understand, or even be aware of! My hope is that these tidbits will make you a more confident cook.
Today’s lesson is short and sweet: it’s about how to properly measure an ingredient based on how it’s written in the ingredient list.
Ingredient lists often include how to prep the ingredient — so it won’t just say “1 yellow onion,” it’ll say “1 yellow onion, chopped”.
But when there’s a specific measurement involved (ie 1/4 cup chopped parsley), it’s important to understand when that prep step (chopping it) should be done based on how it’s written. You’ll wind up with different amounts based on when you complete the prep step.
Here are the two ways it can be written (we’ll use parsley as our example):
1) “1/4 cup chopped parsley” = chop the parsley before measuring.
Chop the parsley first, then measure 1/4 cup of chopped up parsley and use that in the recipe.
Here, the recipe writer wants you to chop the parsley first, before measuring it. You’ll end up with more of the ingredient, because it will be chopped and fill every single space in the measuring cup. This gives a more exact measurement.
2) 1/4 cup parsley, chopped = shove the full sprigs of parsley into a measuring cup, then chop them up after.
This way will yield a less precise measurement, and you’ll always wind up with a bit less of the ingredient when measuring this way. It’s a lot easier because it means you don’t wind up with extra prepped ingredients because you chopped too much before measuring it.
In short: if the prep word comes FIRST (ie 1/2 chopped cup parsley) do it FIRST, before measuring. If the prep word comes AFTER the ingredient, do it after measuring.
Also, we now have a chat room! You can start threads here to ask questions to the entire community, such as “I’m making dinner for a new mom, what should I make?” or “I’m going on a beach trip with 3 families, what should we cook?!”
This is really helpful... but your recipe for one-pot cheesy meatballs has "1/4 cup fresh parsley or basil, finely chopped" in the ingredient list but "1/4 cup finely chopped parsley" in the instructions and now I'm even more confused!
Idea for a future ‘now you know’ - whats up with the garlic directions? Does it matter if I thinly slice it versus if I mince it, crush it or use the garlic press? Tonight I made the pork chops and polenta and we loved it. Directions called for thinly sliced garlic cloves, and that seemed like too complicated when I could just stick them in the garlic press and mush them up. But maybe there is a reason for this? Thx for considering!