What has sleek, modern lines, polished steel, and the ability to go from 0 to 60 in 1.4 seconds? You might think I’m talking about an Italian supercar, but no, I’m talking about a digital scale. This simple tool may already be sitting on a shelf in your kitchen, but chances are that you’re not harnessing its full potential. Using a digital scale to weigh out the ingredients for your recipes can help your kitchen run faster and cleaner. Here are just a few ways a digital scale can benefit your operation:
- Precision. Not all cups are created equal. Depending on how finely cut a product is or how tightly flour is packed into a cup, the weight of that product can vary greatly. You are fooling yourself if you think your recipes are coming out exactly the same each time. The truth is, measuring by volume is antiquated. You might as well be using a pinch of this or a small handful of that. Restaurant customers expect consistency and measuring by weight will give you the same results every time.
- Tare/zero out. The ability of the digital scale to “tare” or “zero out” is the key to its power. It allows you to add ingredients, one by one to a single bowl resting on a scale and precisely measure how much of each individual ingredient you are using by hitting the tare button. Hitting the tare button eliminates the weight of the bowl and takes the scale back down to zero, so that any ingredient added after hitting tare is the only ingredient being measured.
- One bowl recipes. The tare function allows the digital scale to turn your recipes into one bowl recipes. What? You say, only one bowl, preposterous! By placing a single bowl on to a scale and using the tare function, you can pour each ingredient into the bowl as you go. This eliminates the middle man. You can pour the ingredients from their container or package directly into the bowl, no measuring spoons or cups required.
- Less clean up. Switching to the one bowl method will greatly reduce the amount of clean up that is required for each recipe. Where one of your recipes used to require five different spoons and two measuring cups, it will now just need a bowl and one spoon. Expect to be deified by your dishwasher.
- Efficiency and speed. A recipe that requires six cups of soy sauce might require you to fill up a measuring cup three times. Or, you could just pour the soy sauce directly into a bowl on a digital scale and wait for it to register 48 ounces. A digital scale will keep you in one place for longer, no back and forth trips to sinks or looking for measuring spoons and cups.
- Conversion. Let’s see, if you want to halve a recipe that requires a tablespoon of salt, which is three teaspoons, which are equal to 1/6 of an ounce, so you would need to…invent a new spoon. Not to mention, due to the previously mentioned lack of precision a tablespoon gets you, you don’t even really know how much salt you’re putting into your recipe in the first place. By using the weight of ingredients you can quickly convert recipes to whatever size you want. Your tablespoon of salt suddenly becomes .5 ounces of salt and a half batch requires .25 ounces. Oh! The power of simple Math!
- Portioning. Being able to precisely track the weight of each ingredient will allow you to know the exact portion sizes of each meal you serve. This can help you decrease food costs and avoid costly food waste. For example, every order of spaghetti and meatballs you serve will have exactly five ounces of pasta and two four ounce meatballs.
- Pricing. When you receive a food delivery does it provide the exact measurement of product? Does the tarragon package read: 300 tablespoons of tarragon? Or do the bell peppers have a measurement on the box that reads: 20 cups of bells peppers if Jack chops them or 27 cups if Heather chops them? No, they list the total weights of each product. By using weight to measure your recipes you suddenly know exactly how much each dish costs you, down to the penny. This provides an edge when pricing your menu and monitoring your inventory.
The first step to becoming a digital scale convert is the hardest one. Initially, you will have to measure out all of the ingredients of your existing recipes. This will be a time consuming task, but once you have the measurements you will be ready to reap the benefits of using a digital scale to cook. This may cause separation anxiety for all of your measuring cups and spoons, but after making cake batter and looking at the absence of flour, oil and sugar peppered across your prep space, you will be too happy to care.
To see a digital scale in action, check out this video from our Ask Keegan series: