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Guide to Older Food Measurements

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By Valerie J. Frey | Mar 6, 2018

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The older a recipe is the more likely the measures are "rough" or estimated.
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"Preserving Family Recipes" by Valerie J. Frey combines tips and archival principles to teach readers everything they need to know to gather, adjust, and safely preserve family recipes.

    Preserving Family Recipes: How to Save and Celebrate Your Food Traditions(University of Georgia Press, 2015), by Valerie J. Frey provides useful tips for successfully gathering and preserving family recipes. The book offers advice on interviewing relatives, documenting family food traditions, and collecting oral histories to help readers savor their memories. The following excerpt is from Chapter 6, “Orphaned Recipes and Conducting Research.”

    Please note that, in general, the older the recipe, the greater the likelihood that measures were “rough” or estimated. Also, I have come across contradictory sources, so the list below is not foolproof but rather a good starting place.

    Blade of mace = scant 1/4 teaspoon

    Bushel = 8 gallons (dry measure)

    Coffee cup = scant cup

    Coffee spoon = 1/2 teaspoon

    Dessert spoon = 1 to 2 teaspoons

    Drachm/dram = 3/4 teaspoon

    Drop = about 1/60 teaspoon

    Firkin = 9 to 10 gallons (liquid measure)

    Fistful (usually flour or cornmeal) = 1/3 cup

    Gill/Jill = 1/2 cup (liquid measure)

    Glass = 1/4 cup (liquid measure)

    Goblet = scant cup

    Half-pinch = amount lifted between thumb and first finger

    Hogshead = large barrel, usually 63 gallons

    Jack = 1/4 cup (liquid measure)

    Jigger = 1-1/2 fluid ounces, about 3 tablespoons

    Jill, see Gill

    Kenning = 4 gallons (dry measure)

    Kitchen spoon = 1 teaspoon

    Lump of butter = 1 rounded tablespoon

    Mouthful = 1/2 ounce (liquid measure)

    Noggin = 1/2 cup

    Nutmeg (whole) = 2 to 3 teaspoons ground spice (stronger than bottled)

    Peck = 2 gallons (dry measure)

    Pinch = amount lifted between thumb and first two fingers

    Pint = 2 cups

    Pottle = 2 quarts

    Salt spoon = 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon

    Saucer = 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon

    Size of an egg (chicken assumed) = 1/4 cup

    Size of a goose egg = 3/4 cup

    Size of a guinea egg = 1/8 cup or 2 tablespoons

    Size of a hazelnut = 1 teaspoon

    Size of a hickory nut = 1 to 2 tablespoons

    Size of a quail egg = 1-1/2 teaspoons

    Size of a turkey egg = 1/3 cup

    Size of a walnut = 1 to 2 tablespoons

    Soup spoon = 2 to 3 teaspoons, scant tablespoon

    Spoonful = 1 tablespoon

    Teacup = 4 to 6 fluid ounces, usually around 2/3 cup

    Thimbleful = scant teaspoon

    Tumbler = 1 cup

    Wine glass = around 1/4 cup (liquid measure)

    Turkey, chicken, and quail eggs. Turkey eggs weigh an average of 70 grams. Chicken eggs, which vary by breed and other factors, range from 25 to 65 grams, with store-bought large eggs weighing around 60 grams. Quail eggs average 6 grams.


    More from Preserving Family Recipes:
    Recipe Hide and Seek
    General Tips for Recipe Projects
    Re-creating a Remembered Dish
    Collecting Family Recipes: A Group Effort

    Excerpted fromPreserving Family Recipes, by Valerie J. Frey. Used with permission from University of Georgia Press, © 2015.

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