My Kitchen Scale

weighing butter

When I moved to France way back when, one of the first things I set out to buy was a kitchen scale. Kitchen scales are not difficult to find in Europe because most of the countries use weights for baking and in every other type of recipe. In spite of their ubiquity, it was hard to find a scale that measured in both in grams and kilos as well as ounces and pounds. Since few use those standards of measurement in Europe, even kitchen scales that I’d used in America would have a little toggle switch somewhere on them (often on the underside) to shift back and forth between ounces and grams. But whenever I looks at scales in Europe, there was invariably a gaping hole where that switch would be.

(I always thought it odd that they would leave a switch off the same kitchen scale that they make for one part of the world and not the other. Seems to me that it would be easier to make one scale for everyone. But on the other hand, it would also be easier if everyone used the same system of measurement.)

weighing pears

Flash forward to nearly a decade later, and I’ve been through a few kitchen scales over the years. The few I found here that weighed in both grams and ounces didn’t last, and the ones I brought back from the states would last just a few months, and then start to suffer from mishaps like fading LED displays, batteries mysteriously dying (and always when I didn’t have back-up batteries on days like Sunday, when the stores in Paris are closed—of course), or other tare-related maladies.

dark temperature

I finally buckled up and bought an Oxo scale, which I got at Bed, Bath and Beyond (with a 20% off coupon!) and as soon as I switched it on and started using the scale, I fell in love with it. It switches easily between metric and standard measurements – without having to flip it over – which is a good thing for those of us who are converting recipes as we don’t need to remove what’s on the scale to change it. It has an auto shut-off, and if it turns off when you’re working with it, a touch of the off/on button turns it back on and remembers where it was. An added bonus is that you can illuminate the screen in case you want to bake something while everyone else in your apartment is sleeping and you don’t want to wake them up.

bacon

Lastly, if you’re not convinced, of utmost importance is that cooking and baking with a scale is a lot less dishes to wash since you can do most of the weighing in one bowl, or even right in the same pan you’ll be cooking in. Curiously, people are often scared of scales, which is odd and baking whiz Alice Medrich recently wondered aloud how people could be terrified of a kitchen scale when they’re all using smartphones. Since I brought this baby back from the states, like my stand mixer, professional-quality whisks (the cheap ones break too easily), and an arsenal of spatula spoons, it’s become an essential tool in my kitchen—day and night.



Related Posts and Links

My Timer

Baking Tips (archives)

Oxo Scale (Oxo)

Oxo Scale (Amazon)

Why we don’t use cups in our recipes (Gluten-Free Girl)

Trust a scale, not cups and spoons (Video: Harold McGee)

Weighty Matters (Alice Medrich)

The Kitchen Scale, Unsung Hero of Great Cooking (Michael Ruhlman on Gizmodo)

Making Your Blog Metric (Food Blog Alliance)


Categories:

Baking Tips

Tags:

, , , , ,

150 comments

  • “…in case you want to bake something while everyone else in your apartment is sleeping and you don’t want to wake them up.” Hilarious.
    The fridge has a light? ✓
    The oven has a light? ✓
    The digital scale? ✓
    I just can’t use my beaters with the front lamp. Too noisy.

  • I have the same scale and love it. But why in the world would you ever need to detach the led face a la remote control?

  • Afraid of scales? Curious. Pressure cookers, yes. Mandolines, yes. But scales?

  • HURRAH! This has become such a mission with me. Cups seem so silly and inaccurate now. When I switched to writing my recipes in grams, I had a few disgruntled American commenters. However, I’ve been flooded with grateful European and Australian readers, saying they can now make our recipes more easily. I like being part of the world. David, as always, you inspire me.

  • Todd, the detachable face is for when you put on the scale a container wider than it and the container blocks the view of the readout.

  • If your scale ever breaks down (touch wood it won’t!), try checking out UK websites or suppliers – our scales have both imperial and metric measurements which you can switch between by the touch of a button! Bon weekend :)

  • I couldn’t agree more about scales. All the while I lived in the States I considered myself definitely not a baker–nothing I baked seemed to work out with any reliability. A move to the UK and the purchase of a few UK cook books prompted me to try again. For anyone put off by baking, a scale makes it a breeze. Now if only the Gourmet cookbook could be reissued with metric measurements, my life would be complete.

  • I don’t have the exact model as yours but a one with similar functions and it is really the best thing ever. As long as the battery doesn’t run out on me when I’m midway baking, I am happy!

  • Hi David, yes, I agree with you, why not the WORLD on metric. The only
    way one can accurately bake/cook always having the same perfect result is
    with a SCALE….

    DID I miss something? Does this scale take batteries and if so, what kind?
    At home I have a collection of scales as I had one in every corner of my
    bakery. None of them are worth a plugged nickel, including the CUISINART
    purchased at least 10 years ago. The little buttons always get dirty and STICK.

    The OXO looks like the answer, thanks for sharing.

    geraldine in Spain

  • I have the same scale! My only complaint with it is the battery usage or battery indicator, and I’m not even sure which. It seems like it’s always on the verge of battery death and I live in fear that when it goes to sleep, it will not wake up and remember where I was!

    Wow, that sounded really dramatic. Maybe a bit less coffee tomorrow morning.

    Regardless of the battery issue, I agree completely — solid tool.

  • Jess: You might be referring to the horizontal bar on the right of the screen (on the scale)? I’ve not seen a battery indicator light up on mine, but that bar lets you know how much weight is on the scale, and how much more you have to go before it reaches its limit. Perhaps put something on there to check it out?

    geraldine: This scale does take batteries and you can check out the link I gave to the Oxo page to give you more info about the types of batteries it takes.

    Little Chan: Thanks – I bought my previous scales when it was very hard to get products from the UK in France. Now with the internet, it’s easier.

    Kay: I keep extra batteries on hand, but have switched mostly to rechargeable batteries. They used to be not great, but now I find them just as long-lasting as regular batteries. Plus the cost isn’t prohibitive and in the long-run, it’s probably more economical (and ecological) too.

  • It took one cooking lesson in Paris to introduce me to the whole concept of the kitchen scale. I rushed right out after that to purchase my own, and haven’t used a measure cup since. It’s so much more accurate!

  • Merci David, I will have someone bring me one from the US. The measurement issue is such a crucial and problematic one, will greatly help in my classes !

    Your blog is the best ! Le meilleur ….

  • Dear David – I’d never heard of you until a NY friend told me about The Perfect Scoop last year. I bought it straightaway, loved it, and it gave a new lease of life to the Gaggia machine I had been rather neglecting. From there I discovered your brilliant blog which has been one of the first places I look on my laptop in the morning over my orange juice and porridge. It’s wonderfully unpredictable, but what I really like about it is that though you are obviously a complete food pro, you NEVER write down to us mere mortals, and present yourself as a completely average guy who just likes his food.
    This piece about scales makes so much sense – it’s beyond me why so many Americans use those ridiculous cups – I mean, a CUP of butter? – please….

    You may not know about another Salter scale which not only switches between metric and imperial, but also between dry and liquid – so there are four settings – ounces, grams, fluid ounces and millilitres. It’s also achingly cool – black glass with a large green led readout. As someone who likes his big boys’ toys I had to have it – I suspect you may be the same…… (I would have sent you a pic of it, but I don’t know how to on here.)
    I must also thank you for alerting me to the Kitchenaid pasta attachments, which I had no idea about. They are sadly out of stock at Amazon UK at the moment but they are on my list….
    Thanks for your great blog – please keep it coming…..

  • I love my kitchen scale too! I weigh everything now whether I need to or not. : ) My scale does not, however REMEMBER where it was, which would be quite handy. I worked in a high end chocolate shop for a couple of years, where I became familiar with scales and the ‘tare’ setting. I remember when I was first being trained and one of my co-workers would ask, “Did you remember to tare the box?”, and I was hearing ‘tear’ the box, -it was quite confusing for awhile, as I was wondering why in the world I would ‘tear’ the box. It reminded me that there is always a ‘lingo’ with whatever job you’re working at, and it’s just all part of the learning process.

  • David, As a cooking instructor I always urge my students to purchase a scale. I have had a digital Salter (maker of many models) scale for years. It toggles from grams to ounces and to fluid with a quick pulse. I’ve had it for 10+ years and have only changed the battery twice. I love it. Can’t imagine baking or cooking without it. This one was about $35.00 and worth every penny.

  • I have the same pb but dans l’autre sens :) I’ve a good scale too but a remaining pb is the butter. What is the weight of a stick of butter ? We find different answers on the web and I do not know the good one. Could you help me ? thanks a lot :)

  • Anne: Using “sticks of butter” is kind of an old-fashioned measurement and I presume most recipe writers no longer use it.

    But to convert those older recipes: 1 stick butter = 4 ounces = 115 grams

    Christopher: Glad you liked the ice cream book! : )

  • Reading this article and the comments borders on being hilarious in the eyes of a European (German in my case) who grows up with scales not only in the house, but in the super market as well, where fresh produce, cheese and sliced ham etc are sold by weight. How can you live without a scale?! Beside the normal kitchen scale I have a smaller one which measures by 0.1 gram, for coffee and Marsala mixing…
    David, I have to disagree with the “sticks of butter” being old-fashioned, “The Pioneer Woman” would be one famous blog that goes through sticks of butter sans fine, but than again, maybe the whole West Countryside is “old-fashioned”?

  • Wolfgang: Since butter isn’t necessarily sold in sticks anymore, most American cookbooks, and baking books don’t use sticks of butter as a measurement and few editors would suggest that as a form of measurement, hence the term “old-fashioned.” (One could choose a different word, I suppose, but I chose that one just because I’m especially busy with other projects at this time and wanted to respond to the reader who asked.) In spite of my love for many German pastries and foods, I’m unfamiliar with German cookbooks so don’t know how measurements of butter are expressed.

    I’m a fan of Ree, the Pioneer Woman, and she is writing for her audience and how showing how she cooks, which is great. However I do suggest avoiding “sticks” of butter as a term of measurement since it’s not applicable everywhere because butter isn’t always purchased in stick-form, and most recipes nowadays use weight and/or volume.

  • Wow!!! after reading these comments I feel seriously old fashioned, I have all the gadgets Kitchenaid etc. but my scales is seriously retro, it’s a Typhoon balance scales (bright red) with both metric and imperial on the dial, does me just fine, scales don’t necessarily have to be high tech to work. I come from a family of demon bakers and I find it accurate enough for my needs
    I love the blog, it makes me howl. I introduced the hubs and kids to it via the “visit to a Paris market” post and they loved it too.
    I had a long comment about my experiences with Numericable that I tried to send you last week but I overran the character limit on the blog. Suffice it to say that I now know what you mean!!!

  • Running out to purchase a kitchen scale. All these years without one!!

    Thanks again.

  • As a Brit, it took me ages to work out how the American cups work! The main thing seems to be to work in one type of measure only for a recipe – they don’t quite work out otherwise.

  • As a brit I find it very hard to understand why any cook wouldn’t have kitchen scales, I thought they were compulsory if you want accurate measurements. I have the most amazing Salter scales that do metric, imperial, liquid or solids and when not in use hand on the wall showing the time. Great bit of kit.
    Great blog by the way

  • Great blog and thanks so much for the advice on the scale. I’m often converting Swiss recipies and need something that works well, and I like having one item that works for everything. Less IS more.

  • I do not own a scale, but I swear by the French measure glasses with everything (flour, sugar, liquid) on them. Definitely prefer a metric recipe in any case!

  • Definitely useful!

    But I am on the other hand of the scale: I use spoons and my own judgement since I move around a lot and have no way of buying a new scale wherever I go!

  • My German friend has a very nice kitchen scale which, now that I think about it, she said she bought cheaply in a French supermarket…It measures weight with an arrow on a dial, ie, not requiring batteries! And it has a little metal bowl to measure the ingredients in that can be easily removed to pour the measured ingredient into your mixing bowl. I think it is my favorite scale ever.

  • I have the same scale and it is great.
    Had I bought it sooner I would have used it to weigh my preemie twins before and after a nursing session to see how many grams of milk they had taken in. it would have alleviated a lot of stress
    I also use it as a postage scale.

  • I have this scale as well. LOVE IT! Use it all the time. Have no idea how I managed before it, especially when using a recipe given to me from my Spanish friend-who of course, uses weights in grams instead of measurements.

  • ThanK you David for the stick of butter conversion :) Bonne soirée

  • I’ve only started using the scale recently, though I have a hard time writing posts with the weights. Having less dishes to wash is a definite added plus!

    Off topic, since the comments are closed on your posts from awhile back, I just made your cream cheese brownies and LOVED them. So did my piano students, who gobbled them up. Thank you for such a great recipe.

  • I’m afraid of scales but it has nothing to do with technology ;)

    I love my Salter and find it’s a wonderful way to get a math lesson in when cooking with my 7-yr old.

  • i am a big fan of salter as well…it’s simple, small and light. and also from bed bath and beyond :)

  • In Malaysia/Singapore, I grew up baking with scales. My mother used to bake with an analog scale! Till this day I don’t understand American’s refusal to use weights, fumbling (and sometimes failing) with measuring cups instead while at the same time being such pain about recipes in weights.

    Here we get good ranges of digital ones, especially from the Japanese Tanita. My conversion switch is at the back but most of the time I don’t have a problem as a good recipe should either be in both grams/ounces or either one, at least in my books.

  • The OXO scale looks good. And I agree with you. Using a scale would mean lesser dishes to wash.

  • I love mine and can’t imagine cooking without it. I went with a low end “EatSmart Precision Pro” for $25 on Amazon a few years ago. It does pounds, ounces, grams and kilograms. Very simple to use. It feels a bit cheap, but it gets daily use and has gone about three years so far with zero problems

  • Yes the OXO is a great scale. But if you really want to get into the semi professional have a look at the My Weight KD-8000. The selling point for me was it can measure in Baker’s (or any) percentage. I.e. you weigh your flour, save it as 100% and then all ingredients are measured based on these 100%. I.e. if you use 60% water or 2.5 % salt you just add water until it shows 60% etc. Makes it a breeze to scale recipes. Also great for cheese making where you need a lets say 20% salt brine. Fill a bowl with 2 liter water (2 kg) save it as 100% and add salt until it shows 20%. No calculations and mis-calculations etc.

    It also features battery or AC adapter, programmable switch off and – yes – switch between ounces and grams.

  • In New Zealand we use weights, but I was taught at school the approximate cup equivalents in case of necessity. For many years I didn’t own a set of scales and got by converting things to cups and spoonfuls – I also got quite good at estimating amounts in portions-of-a-full-pack. E.g. when you need 100g of raisins and the packet is 250g. Althought it’s handy to be able to estimate this way it is still estimating, and it’s always puzzled me why Americans would have this as their “official” way to do things.

  • I was almost afraid to read this post, because I am so in love with my scale and didn’t want to hear you boasting about another. But, lo and behold!, it is the SAME SCALE!! It’s affordable, doesn’t drain the batteries (I seriously made it through almost a year of Pastry School without changing once), and when I’m making larger batches of something, the pull-out LED screen saves my sanity. It would take a LOT for me to change from this one. Thanks for not letting me down!! :)

    Oh! AND I love that the surface detaches so I can wash it. Nothing grosses me out like having egg drop in the cracks of a scale I can’t open to clean. ECH!

  • I just replaced my old scale with a Philips digital one bought off Amazon.fr for Christmas. It has many of the same features. The toggle button for g./oz. is brilliant!

  • I have the same scale and absolutely love it! The pull out feature is great when I’m weighing something on a plate or in a large bowl; I love the backlight. I love everything about it.

  • Further to this, I just discovered that my Pyrex cup-and-ml measuring dish is woefully inaccurate. If I fill it to the 350ml line, the contained water weighs only 310g. If that’s not convincing, then I don’t know what is…

  • I am strangely satisfied that I have the same scale as you. I’ve had it for 2 1/2 years and I haven’t had to change the batteries yet! I love it.

  • Scales are a great addition to the kitchen. I can’t decide if I like the scale, or the infrared thermometer more. I never thought to just plunk the pan right down on the scale, so thanks for the tip.

  • I have been using this very same scale for a few years now. I absolutely love it and it is a champ. No one should be scared to use a scale. Nor should there be fear in pressure cooking. Metric for the win! (Now I just need to convince my imperial comrades.)