Pound Equivalents for Recipe Ingredients

Source: The Housewife's Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)
Source: The Housewife’s Cook Book by Lilla Frich (1917)

Today there’s lots of discussion about whether it is better to measure recipe ingredients by volume (teaspoon, tablespoon, cup, etc.) or by weight (typically grams).  A hundred years ago cooks apparently wanted to go back and forth between volume and weight measures. Here’s a table from a 1917 cookbook which shows approximately how many cups (or other measures) of various ingredients were the equivalent of one pound.

34 thoughts on “Pound Equivalents for Recipe Ingredients

  1. When I did large batches of bread when everybody was still at home ,I did the flour by pound,much easier than measuring out all the cups, most times though it is easier to do the cup or tablespoon. Nice chart to have on hand.

    1. In the U.S., there’s been a shift in recent years in preferred ways of measuring cooking ingredients, and I know many cooks who have metric scales in their kitchens. Some recently published cookbooks list both volume and metric weights for the ingredients. It’s rare to see pounds and ounces listed in recipes.

  2. There was a time when measures weren’t even used. I have some old family recipes that say things like “a small amount” and “simmer for awhile” or my favorite is when a step is left out because everyone would just know to do that.

  3. I laughed at Automatic Gardener’s comment. I remember those days, too. Grandma was the best for knowing what a pinch or a pound was. The inclusion of rice intrigued me. When I lived in Liberia, Philip, my houseboy, had an uncanny ability to look at a pile of rice in the market and know exactly how many cups it contained. Me? Not so much.

    1. When putting left-overs away, I always seem to have an innate sense of which dish is just the right size. I’m not sure how I developed that skill over the years. I guess it’s just that I’ve re-dished left-overs more times than I want to think about. 🙂

  4. Curious that powdered and confectioners sugar were so different in amounts. I tend to think of them as the same product. And it’s been a long time since rye meal has turned up on modern recipes 😄. Reminded me of my grandmother’s rule, “A pint’s a pound the world around.” Thanks, Sheryl

    1. Like your grandmother, my mother also always said that, “A pint’s a pound the world around” – and I’m sure I said it many times to my children. Maybe it’s a central Pennsylvania phrase. 🙂

  5. This is very interesting. I mostly think in volume but butter and meat are sold by weight so I guess we easily go back and forth.

  6. This would be very interesting for recipes that recipes a pound of this and a pound of that! I guess that chart might not work today though as some items might have changed in weight?

    1. hmm. . . I’m not sure. How do you define “successful”? if it means exactly following a recipe, I’m probably often not successful. But, it it means tweaking the recipe a bit to hopefully make it better, then I’m often successful. I see cooking as more of an art than a science.

  7. My favorite cookbook is “Seems Like I Done it This A Way” in which the recipes were written exactly as the person spoke them. You get a lot of “…just a little milk” and one recipe even kind of trailed off as the person got distracted!

      1. It’s a good cookbook and a really fun read! But you have to be prepared; one of the recipes starts out “First cut out the hog’s eyes and clean the ears deeply.” Umm…I think I’ll just buy some pork.

        1. It does sound like a fun book. I’ll have to look for it at the library, though I don’t think that I’ll be making the recipes – at least not that recipe. 🙂

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