Friday, September 7, 2012

How to Cut a Recipe in Half

Or in thirds, or make it bigger...math just came to the kitchen and now it all matters.  For New Cooks here at Nine For Dinner, the first thing you probably need to know is how to make these recipes feed 2-4 people instead of 8-10.  The good news is, that almost all recipes can be made bigger or smaller with a little tweaking.  The bad news is, of course, fractions. (I really never understood fractions of a whole until I began to work with them as real numbers that represented ingredients.)

At least it is pretty straight forward to divide a recipe in half.  You take all of the numbers and divide by 2.  So 1 cup, becomes 1/2 cup.  The reverse is true, that if you want to double a recipe, you multiply all the numbers by 2. The tools to help with the application of all that good math are:

1) It is helpful to write the changed numbers down on the recipe before you start.  It becomes a problem if you remember to put in only half of the first three ingredients, and then when your brain has relaxed about it, to forget and put in the whole amount of baking soda!  (You know I speak from experience!) So write it out, work from your notes and it won't bite you.

2) This is where equivalent charts come in handy.  When you divide a tablespoon in half, it is good to know that 1Tbsp.=3 tsp., so half is 1 1/2 tsp.  So, here is an equivalent chart for your use.

1 Tbsp. = 3 tsp.
1 cup = 16 Tbsp.
1/4 cup = 4 Tbsp.
1 quart = 4 cups
1 pint = 2 cups
1 cube butter or margarine = 1/2 cup
1 lb. granulated sugar = 2 cups
1 lb. flour = 4 cups
1 gallon = 4 quarts
8 oz. liquid = 1 cup
1 oz. liquid = 2 Tbsp.
1 large egg = approx. 4 Tbsp. liquid
1 lb. shortening or butter = 2 cups

3) Use the whole egg.  Some ingredients don't divide in half so well.  But it will be OK.

4) When you have to divide 3/4 cup in half, it is perfectly fine to take a 3/4 c. measure, to fill it half full and eyeball it. (Don't tell your high school home ec. teacher I said this, but this will also be OK.)

5) You can make the whole recipe if you know how to store the leftovers for use another time. Most foods store in the refrigerator for a week.  Cover them to keep them moist with a lid or plastic wrap. Other foods can be frozen.  For instance, you can make your own waffles, put them in a ziplock bag and freeze the batch, then you can take them out of the freezer and toast them for breakfast just as if you bought them in an expensive box. Left overs have great potential for saving time, so I will post more about this later.

6) You can also make the whole recipe if you invite some friends to join you!  Food is always best shared!  Good luck!

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If you are visiting, welcome! I am in the process of a Vulcan Mind Meld with my computer to put all of my right hand recipes for feeding my family on here as fast as possible. Please come back often and stay awhile. There are so many exciting things to come!

What this is:

A clearing house for all my favorite recipes. All my food musings. All my favorite cookbooks and kitchen gadgets. If you enjoy it here, and find it useful, welcome!