Thursday, February 5, 2015

Weight and Volume

After more than five years in Euroland I've pretty much got the metric system down.  Distance wasn't too bad.  Temperature was the one that was confusing on a daily basis.  For everyday use I found that weight and volume were the most useful to understand.

Volume measures liquids and over here that means liters.  The one advantage I had was that all Americans do actually understand what a two-liter bottle is.  In the USA, soda is sold in two-liter bottles so it's one of the only things we understand about metric.

There are roughly 4 liters to a gallon.  A can of soda is 330 ml (milliliters).  Sometimes it is written as 33 cl (centiliters).  A bottle of water can be labeled as 1/2 liter, 500 ml, or 50 cl.  All of the measurements are equal.  I guess it just depends on marketing and which one sounds like more. 

1 ounce
  2 Tablespoons  
30 milliliters
4 ounces
1/2 cup
125 milliliters
8 ounces
1 cup
250 milliliters
12 ounces
1-1/2 cups
375 milliliters
  16 ounces  
2 cups
  500 milliliters 

When I buy cold cuts or cheese at deli, it's common to ask for amounts in deca(grams).  For example, if I want 7 ounces of salami, then I would ask for 20 deca.  It's the same as 200 grams but I noticed at the deli it is common for everyone to use deca.

A pound is less than a kilogram.  It's roughly 2.2 pounds per kilo.  So the good thing here is that when you get on a scale, the numbers in kilos are smaller.  Unfortunately it doesn't mean that you're skinnier in kilos but it's a nice thought.  

In the UK and Ireland, they are really screwed up because they don't measure body weight in pounds or kilos.  They still measure in stone which is 14 pounds (6.35 kg).  So if someone weighs 158 pounds, on the islands they weigh 11 stone 4 (11 stones and 4 pounds), while on the continent they weigh 72 kilos.

Weight and volume become an issue when I try to share American recipes with friends here.  American recipes will often measure non-liquids by volume instead of by weight.  So if an American recipe calls for 1 cup of flour I'm good because I made sure to bring American measuring cups with me when I moved here.

Here non-liquids are measured by weight.  So 1 (American) cup equals 120 grams of all purpose flour.  But that same cup should be 180 grams if it's packed brown sugar, or 190 grams of uncooked rice, or 240 grams of butter, or 150 grams of chopped nuts.  Since things are measured in weight here a kitchen scale is a must have item. 

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