Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Useful things: food scale

For a long time, I pooh-poohed the idea of a kitchen scale. My cookbooks used volume measurements, not weight. I could eyeball things when cutting up meat or dividing dough. Who needed a scale?

But when I got into food preservation in earnest, I found myself wishing I had one all the time. Typically in the late hours of the night, as I stared down an enormous stockpot of cooked beans waiting to be frozen in 15-ounce can-sized portions. I now have the 11-pound Oxo Good Grips Food Scale  ($45, also available in a 5-pound version for $30).

Some things to keep in mind when picking out a food scale to use in food preservation:

  • Beware of buying a lightweight. Pay attention to the weight limit--you'll likely want something that will weigh more than a few pounds, at the minimum.
  • Make sure it has a broad, flat surface. Some have small removable bowls attached to the scale or tiny platforms. You'll want something that will hold your own large bowls, plates and other containers.
  • A tare feature is also very helpful, so that you can measure and weigh items without needing to factor in the weight of the container.
  • The pull-out display on the Oxo scale has also been really useful for me. With other scales I've owned, the buttons and displays were often obscured by whatever plate or bowl was on the scale. It's nice to be able to pull the buttons closer to me when I need to.
  • Digital scales tend to be easier to use and take up less space than old-school mechanical scales, but they do use up batteries.

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