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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Learn your kitchen mathematics

Sunday, September 20, 2009

After making pear preserves, Whitney Danhof decided to make a handy kitchen chart of equivalents.(T-G Photo by Sadie Fowler)
We were making pear preserves the other day and the recipe called for 3/4 pound of sugar to each pound of pears. We were using our postage meter to figure out how many cups of sugar to add to our 10 pounds of pears. That's when it dawned upon me how nice it would be to have a handy chart of equivalents.

Now, mind you, I have a million cookbooks with all kinds of charts but I can't ever find the one I need with the right information for the moment. I readily know how many teaspoons are in a tablespoon (three) and how many tablespoons in a cup (16) but when it comes to how much celery to make cup chopped or how many cups of brown sugar equals 1 pound, it takes a little more investigation.

So I thought I would give you (and me) some guidelines from my many charts that you can post on the refrigerator or in your recipe box for future reference. These are some of the most useful equivalents in the kitchen.

Kitchen mathematics

1 cup chocolate chips = 6 ounces chocolate chips

2 cups packed brown sugar = 1 pound brown sugar

3 cups unsifted powdered sugar = 1 pound powdered sugar

2 cups granulated sugar = 1 pound granulated sugar

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour = 1 pound all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons of dry yeast = 1 packet of dry yeast

1 cup shredded cheese = 4 ounces cheese

1 cup sour cream, cream cheese, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese = 8 ounces

3 cups sliced carrots = 1 pound carrots

cup chopped celery = 1 rib celery

cup chopped onion = 1 medium onion

1 cup chopped green pepper = 1 large green pepper

In older community cookbooks you may find references to can sizes that are unfamiliar. A number 1 can (picnic) is roughly equivalent to a 10 ounce can. A number 303 can holds about 15 ounces and a number 10 can is the large commercial size can (roughly like a 3 pound coffee can).


Another couple of handy tricks involve substitutions. My general theory is, if you don't have the right ingredients don't make it. Choose another recipe. However, the other day I was having company for dinner and had homemade bread and was heating up some corn. I went to add some butter and realized I had used it all. Not having time to run to the store, I saw I had a pint of heavy cream in the refrigerator, so I whipped it with my stand mixer until it turned into a clump of butter and all the liquid came out. I added a little salt and there you have it -- homemade butter.

The other substitution that I often make is when I don't have any self-rising flour on hand. I did not grow up in the South and so we always kept all-purpose flour on hand instead of self-rising. It is easy to turn all-purpose into self-rising flour by adding 1 teaspoon of baking powder and teaspoon of salt to each cup of all-purpose flour.

By the way, our pear preserves turned out great, so here is the recipe for all those wonderful fall pears.

Pear preserves

Peel, core and thinly slice pears. To each pound of prepared pears add pound sugar. Combine with a little water to make a syrup and add 1 sliced lemon, stirring the fruit to coat with syrup and lemon. Let sit for at least 4 hours or overnight in the refrigerator or a cool place, to allow the syrup to soak into the pears.

Place the pears over medium heat and bring to a boil. Boil until the syrup is thick and when a little is placed on a plate in the refrigerator for a few minutes to cool, it sets up to a thick gel (ours took about 45 minutes to an hour).

Stir constantly to prevent sticking and wear an oven mitt as the hot sugar will pop out of the pot and burn your hand if you are not careful.

When cooked, place preserves in clean, hot pint or pint canning jars, leaving inch headroom. Wipe the rims and place prepared canning lids and rings on the top. Process in a boiling waterbath for 5 minutes. Let cool on a towel and test lids to make sure they're sealed before storing in a cool, dry place to enjoy on biscuits this winter.

-- Whitney Danhof is a UT extension agent for Bedford County. Her column, Tips & Tricks, runs monthly. Contact her at 684-5971.

Whitney Danhof
Seasonal Eating
Whitney Danhof is with the University of Tennessee Extension in Shelbyville.

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