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Why you need a scale: the story of salt.

(post, Judith Klinger)

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Seems that I’m always getting asked for advice on cookware, what pots, what knives and like most things the answer depends on how much you cook, what you cook, what’s your budget, etc. etc.  It’s all about defining what you need and what you want to do with it. 
But, if there is one thing that is crucial to my cooking style, it’s a digital scale. I’m Low Tech Girl: no microwave, I have a rolling pin not a pasta machine, and I knead my bread, but I cannot cook without my scale. 

Here’s the visual: a recipe calls for a tablespoon of salt. Currently in my house I have three kinds of salt: Diamond Kosher, Maldon Salt Crystals and some very fine grain Japanese sea salt (I’m not being esoteric, I have a Japanese grocery store across the street and their sea salt is cheap.)  I measured out one level teaspoon of salt of each variety and weighed them:
19 g sea salt
12.5 g salt crystals
9 g kosher salt

It’s over twice the volume of salt if I used sea salt instead of kosher salt. Wonder why that chicken recipe you made came out so salty? 

Think about this brownie recipe that calls for 1 cup of nuts: if there was such a variation with salt, imagine the variation with roughly chopped v. whole v. finely chopped nuts. 

And finally there is the clutter factor: all those measuring cups you’ve acquired can be tossed, those single measuring spoons that get disconnected from the ring and you can’t find the ¼ teaspoon spoon because it’s buried under the clutter of random spoons and lobster forks that have mysteriously accumulated in the junk drawer, all tossed and replaced by one single, elegant scale. Pure Zen.

Find a scale that tares, which means you put the bowl on the scale, hit tare and the scale goes to zero so you aren’t factoring in the weight of the bowl. Which would be a nice thing for the deli man to do so you don’t have to pay $12.99/lb for that plastic container, but I digress.  Also find a scale that has ounces and grams because it’s good to have an easier conversion. All of my cookbooks have scribbles all over them where I’ve done the conversions, which sounds like a royal pain, but once you get used to working with weights, you don’t go back.  I use the CJ-4000, it gets the job done, and don’t spring for the scale with the bowl, you already own bowls.