Cooking/Weights and measures

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United States Measures

Measures are classified as either dry measures or fluid measures. Fluid measures are measures of volume, while dry measures are measures of weight. Whether the ingredient you are measuring is dry or fluid really doesn't matter, and will only confuse you. Simply use the measure that is specified in your recipe.

US recipes are almost always in terms of volume.

Dry Measures:

Dash
Pinch
1 Dry Ounce (Oz.) = 16 drams = 1/16 pound
1 Pound (lb.) = 16 ounces

Fluid Measures:

1 Drop = 1/76 teaspoon
1 Teaspoon (t.) = 76 drops = 1/3 tablespoon
1 Tablespoon (T.) = 1/16 cup or 1/2 fluid ounce = 3 teaspoons
1 Fluid Ounce (Oz.) = 1/16 pint
1 Cup (c.) = 8 fluid ounces = 16 tablespoons
1 Pint (pt.) = 16 fluid ounces = 2 cups
1 Quart (qt.) = 32 fluid ounces = 2 pints

European measures (metric)

New Zealand and Sweden (and most likely many parts of Europe) recipes use the metric system of litres (l) and millilitres (ml), grams (g) and kilograms (kg), and degrees celsius (°C). In addition to these, some common measures have been redefined in terms of metric units:

1 teaspoon = 5 millilitres
1 dessertspoon = 2 teaspoons = 10 millilitres
1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons = 15 millilitres
1 cup = 250 millilitres

Note that in metric, no difference is made between fluids and solids, and so a cup may very well be used to measure flour. Be careful with pints. A U.S. Pint is not the same as a U.K. pint.

Special Instructions:

You will sometimes encounter additional instructions that are required to get the correct amount of the ingredient. For example, a recipe might request "1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed", or "2 heaping cups flour." If you encounter one of these special requests, consult the table below:

Firmly Packed
With a spatula, a spoon, or your hand, tightly press the ingredient into the measuring cup. You should measure as much of the ingredient as you can fit into the measure.
Lightly Packed
Press the ingredient into the measuring cup lightly. Make sure there are no air pockets, but don't compress it too hard either.
Even / Level
Measure the amount precisely, discarding all of the ingredient that rises above the rim of the measuring cup. The back of a straight knife works well for this.
Rounded
Don't flatten out the ingredient to the top of the measuring cup, but instead allow it to pile up above the rim naturally, into a soft, rounded shape.
Heaping
Pile as much of the ingredient on top of the measure as you can.
Sifted
Sift before measuring to ensure ingredient is not compacted.

United States to European (Metric) Conversions

1 Tablespoon (T.) = 14.79 milliliters
1 Fluid Ounce (Oz.) = 29.57 milliliters

(Taken from Dictionary.com)