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What is a Dry Measure?

By Harriette Halepis
Updated May 16, 2024
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When related to cooking, a dry measurement is used to measure ingredients that are not in a liquid state. A dry measure may be used to portion out ingredients such as flour and sugar. Contrastingly, liquid measures are used to measure liquid ingredients such as water and oil. All dry ingredients are measured differently, and these measurements must be observed in order to successfully complete any recipe.

Before any recipe can be attempted, it is important to have the right measuring tools. Dry measuring instruments include measurement spoons and measuring cups. Substituting any other measuring utensil for these basic tools will not ensure a successful recipe. When measuring flour, sugar, or leavening agents, such as baking power or baking soda, special measurement techniques should be noted.

Since flour can become compact while sitting inside of a container, it is important to fluff flour prior to use. By stirring flour with a wooden spoon or fork, air will become incorporated into the mass. Once this process has been completed, flour can then be measured. After filling a measuring cup with flour, use a knife to level the flour; this technique will ensure a proper measurement.

Sugar does not have to be fluffed prior to use, though the same leveling technique should be used. If a recipe calls for a "heaping" cup of sugar, then the sugar does not have to be leveled with a knife. In most instances, sugar should be leveled in order to prevent adding too much sugar to a recipe. When using a dry measure to add brown sugar to a recipe, make sure to pack the brown sugar tightly into the measuring cup.

When using a leavening agent, take the time to stir the package contents before use. This way, any small clumps will disappear before attempting to measure a leavening ingredient. Again, use the handle of a spoon or knife to level any leavening agent. A dry measure is used to measure all of the basic ingredients mentioned above. By using the right measuring technique and dry measure tools, concocting a recipe will become easier.

Dry measure tools can be found in any cooking store, in some grocery stores, and online. Some cooks find that stacking measuring cups are more convenient than cups that do not stack. Likewise, measuring spoons that are sold as part of a connected set are often easier to store. The type of measuring tools that are chosen are largely up to the chef, though most chefs will try one or two different types of measuring tools prior to selecting the right kind.

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