03 May 2008

Choice Goods - Kitchen Scale

One thing that I highly recommend for anyone to have in their kitchen is a scale. Sure, I got along without one for nine of my eleven cooking years, but those nine years could have been so much more.

Why this love, you ask? Well, for starters, have you ever had the recipes that ask for a specific weight of ingredient...say, pasta? I usually buy my pasta in bulk and since weights only come on pre-packaged labels, I was clueless as to what six oz of orzo or 12 oz of elbow macaroni looked like. Or what about meats? or vegetables? or cheese? Now when my polenta calls for 2 oz of parmesan, I can use my scale and KNOW.

Another reason is that I am a lover of trying new ethnicities of foods, but many times they are in metric. (Makes sense since almost the entirety of the world is metric...but I digress.) Liquid measurements are done in mL and many measuring cups and spoons are marked for these. Solid/dry ingredients are stated in weight or, more specifically, grams. For those, you have to find a metric equivalents page and convert the ingredient-specific grams into cups. Good luck. Wouldn't it be easier to just use your handy-dandy scale? Why, yes, it would be.

I did some research on kitchen scales back before I bought mine and found some specific things to look out for.
  1. Easy conversion switch - Most, if not all, scales come with a switch to jump from grams to ounces. Many are not in easy to get to places. For instance, one scale I know of has its switch on the bottom. So if you are measuring and realize you're using the wrong units, you have to take off the item and flip the whole thing over to switch it. Pain in the hobbity-hoo, if you ask me.
  2. High weight max - You want to have a scale that is able to handle what you throw at it. A little portion scale is not going to be able to measure a large pot full of potatoes, if for some reason you need its weight. Mine has a 5kg/11lb max. I've never had anything that I've needed to weigh max it out.
  3. Large enough weighing-thing - I don't know what it's called, but make sure the platform where you put the stuff to be weighed is able to accommodate large mixing bowls, Kitchenaid bowls, dinner plates, pie pans, etc.
  4. Intuitive - Some scales, believe it or not, are a bit complicated. They've got a lot of buttons that can be confusing. You want simple. You want to be able to figure it out without having to refer to the owner's manual.
  5. Cool Factor - Okay, so this isn't a real necessity. But if you are going to use your scale as much as me, you're going to leave it out on the counter and you are going to be a little happier if it looks cool. I mean, sure, we can all be happy with practical and durable. But what if you get practical, durable, and kick-butt sweet-looking?! Huh? You're not going to tell me that if you had to pick between two equally sturdy, great-working scales, you wouldn't choose the sweet, almost a decorative option choice, are you? I didn't think so.
  6. Digital - This one holds some room for contention. There are those who are lovers of the mechanical scale. To them I say this: Go with what you love. Personally, I think digital is more accurate because it is less reliant on me. If you know me, you would agree. I think the general consensus is digital is better, but mechanicals don't run out of batteries.
The scale that met all the above-criteria for me was Model 6300 by Salter. (pictured at left) We got her at Bed, Bath and Beyond, I think. Sorry, I don't have it's model name anymore. But it's a beaut. I mean, as far as modern, sleekness goes she's just lovely. It wouldn't appeal to those romantic, vintage lovers out there. (You know who you are!!!) But we can't please everyone, can we? You guys can stick it in the cabinet. (For the record, I love vintage-y stuff in decor, just not for my active-use, modern-does-it-better items.) Also, the cooler vintage-looking scales tend to be mechanical, while the digital scales have a more modern design. I'm a digital girl, what can I say?

I use my little scale daily. It is invaluable to me. It makes me a more accurate baker (which you must agree is an accuracy-devout field) and a happier cook. I've got a bunch of tips on how scales can make your life easier but that info needs its own post. So for now I leave you with this:

Kitchen scales...they're choice!


Anonymous said...

Just don't use it near your microwave oven. It will throw of the calibration. I am on my third scale in four days! Not too happy at this point. They really should state something about the microwave oven in the instructions.

Tricia said...

good to know. thanks!