If there is one kitchen tool that can improve the quality and consistency of your cooking, it's the digital scale. Unlike measuring things by volume, weighing out your ingredients eliminates any doubt you may have about whether you're "doing it right."
Beyond giving you peace of mind, a scale can improve the quality of your culinary life like so:
- It will make your baking better: A cup of flour may seem like a pretty easy thing to measure, but not everyone scoops the same way. In fact, Cook's Illustrated found that using the "dip and sweep" method can result in a variance of up to 20% by weight. Weighing your dry ingredients ensures you're following the recipe as precisely as possible, resulting in consistently perfect baked goods.
- It will give you a handle on portion control: It's extremely hard to estimate portion size by looks alone, and a scale can help you gain a better understanding of exactly how much of everything you consume on a daily basis. It's also a game-changer when it comes to portioning out burgers, dividing bread dough into loaves, and making sure your top and bottom pie crusts are the same size.
- You can play around with molecular ingredients: Molecular gastronomy can be a ton of fun — for example, with just a little sodium citrate, you can make a gooey cheese sauce from almost any cheese — but recipes that rely heavily on chemistry require precision, and a scale is crucial for measuring out exact amounts of cutting edge ingredients.
- It makes international recipes easier to follow: Trying to follow US recipes can be a pain when it comes to measurements - everything needs to be converted from imperial to metric. A digital scale allows you to simply flick to the current measurement system. (Yes, some traditional scales also contain imperial to metric, but then you're squinting at little numbers.)
Of course, not all kitchen scales are created equally, so pick a good one. This $20 model comes with a space-saving compact design, imperial or metric measurements and up to 5kg capacity. However, any lightweight, accurate scale that can convert between imperial and metric and units will treat you right.