LOCATION: Recipes >> Equivalents >> Us Non Us Items
Us Non Us Items
There are some foodstuffs that cause quite a bit of cross-cultural
confusion and are the focus of frequent queries. The purpose of
this file is to provide a little clarification.
MEASURE: Three conventions: US, Imperial and Metric. US measure
is by volume. Imperial measure is by weight, but uses (weighed)
ounces unless specified as fluid ounces. (This is a very important
distinction, if you try to make an Imperial recipe using US
measurements, the result will be a spectacular failure.) Metric
measure is easy, it uses grams, liters, etc.
Two measures of note:
1 US tablespoon = 3 teaspoons
1 AUS tablespoon = 4 teaspoons
1 US pint = 16 fluid oz
1 UK pint = 20 fluid oz
How to convert? The best solution IMO for non-US cooks is to get
your hands on some US measuring cups and spoons. For US cooks,
invest in a scale. Otherwise, use a calculator and conversion charts
(there are several right here in http://recipes.alastra.com/equivalents/ ).
Rounding will not noticeably harm things, for example, it's okay
to round an ounce to either 25 or 30 grams, you may round a kilo
to 2 1/4 pounds and so on.
DO NOT BELIEVE the adage "A pint's a pound the world around." While
it holds true for some things (such as thin liquids), there are a
multitude of other things it doesn't work for, like flour, syrups,
bread crumbs, nuts, etc.
BISCUITS: UK biscuits are US cookies and crackers. US biscuits
are similar to a UK plain cream scone (rhymes with Don). UK scones
come in more varieties -- they can be flaky, cakelike, crumbly,
savoury, sweet, large, cut in wedge shapes, and/or include add-ins
(cheese, dried fruit, etc). Scones are often served for tea (despite
Aussie relatives, I am still unclear on the concept of the meal
referred to as "tea"). US biscuits are usually served at breakfast,
and can be split open and smothered with cream/milk gravy or
sandwiched with sausage patties.
GRAHAM CRACKERS: A not-too-sweet US cookie/cracker made from graham
flour, which is a coarsely ground whole wheat flour. There is no
non-US equivalent. Graham crackers are by far the popular choice
for US recipe crumb pie/cheesecake crusts. Substitute pretty much
any dry, not overly sweet biscuit crumb. I hear digestive biscuits
make a pretty good substitute. Recipe at this location:
HALF-AND-HALF: US product, half milk, half cream. Comparable to
single cream in butterfat. (12 to 18%)
ICING SUGAR: Icing sugar, powdered sugar and confectioner's sugar
are all the same thing.
CASTER SUGAR: Granulated sugar between superfine and icing sugar
in grain size. Either can be substituted.
CORN SYRUP: Sugar syrup made from corn. Common US brand is Karo,
comes in light and dark, is flavoured with salt and vanilla. There
is no non-US equivalent. Golden (cane sugar) syrup may be substituted
with acceptable results but the taste will not be the same (this
may be a consideration for recipes like pecan pie). You can try
making a simple sugar syrup and using that:
For 1 cup light corn syrup: 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar and
1/4 cup water.
For 1 cup dark corn syrup: 3/4 cup light corn syrup plus 1/4 cup
light molasses, or 1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar plus 1/4 cup water.
COOL WHIP: Non-dairy stable whipped topping, comes frozen in tubs.
Meant as a replacement for whipped cream. Dream Whip is similar,
except it comes dry in envelopes and is made by whipping with milk.
BISQUICK: Brand name baking mix. Baking mix is a mixture of flour,
leavening and fat. Recipes you can make are found starting here:
BUTTER: Many US recipes call for "a stick of butter". Butter in
the US is packaged by the pound, divided into four "sticks". So
a stick is 1/4 pound or 1/2 cup or 8 tablespoons or 4 ounces. A
cube of butter is the same as a stick.
SHORTENING: Shortening is anything that makes a pastry "short",
i.e. flaky (think shortbread or shortcake). In the US, shortening
often refers to a shelf-stable, hydrogenated vegetable fat, common
brand name is Crisco. (some cooks swear by Crisco for cookies and
pie crusts, doesn't do much for me). Use any solid fat (butter,
OLEO: An old-fashioned name for margarine. Go ask your grandmother.
CORNFLOUR: The same thing as US cornstarch. It is not flour made
from corn, which is masa harina, a finely ground flour made from
corn treated with lime. This is different from cornmeal, which is
coarse ground dried corn (which may or may not have been treated
with lime - yellow and white cornmeal are both widely available).
Polenta is a very coarsely ground cornmeal. To throw a wrench into
the gears, I have recently seen a US product tagged as "corn flour"
which appears to be a finely ground cornmeal. Go figure.
FLOUR: UK plain flour is equivalent to US all-purpose. Self-rising
flour includes 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt
per cup. UK wholemeal is equivalent to US whole-wheat. Cake flour
is a soft flour meaning less gluten and produces a softer crumb;
bread flour is a hard/strong flour, meaning more gluten and produces
a tougher crumb. If a recipe calls for flour but doesn't specify
what kind, use plain or all-purpose.
MILK: If a recipe calls for sour(ed) milk, you may make your own
by putting 1 teaspoon of vinegar in 1 cup of milk. (Acid is required
for recipes that contain baking soda). You may substitute buttermilk.
VANILLA: Vanilla extract and vanilla essence are the same thing.
To make vanilla sugar, combine 2 cups granulated sugar with 1 tsp
vanilla extract. Mix well and store in an air-tight container.
Place a whole vanilla bean in the jar for extra flavour. An equal
amount of vanilla extract may be substituted for vanilla sugar.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful:
Very Informative., July 7, 2006 - 05:17 PM
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Reviewer: Anonymous from USA
Thank you very much!
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