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Once I have made a recipe a couple of times, I tend to follow my instincts rather than strict portion sizes.

When following a new recipe, however, I have often wondered about how an ingredient's weight should be interpreted.

For example, if a recipe calls for 500g of pumpkin, diced into 1cm cubes, does convention expect me to use a 500g cut of pumpkin, that I then de-seed and dice, or 500g of 1cm pumpkin cubes pumpkins?

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I do realise this question does show my programmer mindset a bit, as cooking tends not to be about strict precision, however, I do like to cook a recipe as intended by the writer the first couple of times before getting too creative with it. –  johnc Oct 18 '11 at 21:02
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2 Answers 2

up vote 5 down vote accepted

In your example, it means 500g pumpkin before preparing.

In general, you might see this two ways:

  1. 500g pumpkin. Dice the pumpkin.
  2. 500g diced pumpkin.

The first option refers to the weight before prepping while the second refers to the weight after prepping. In general, the second one is far more exact for the actual recipe while the first one is more exact for shopping. I assume ease of shopping plus presumption of yield is why the first one is so often used, although in high end cook books (Grant Achatz, Thomas Kellar, etc) the weights are often given post prep for precision.

You will see the same thing for volume measurements (i.e. one cup of nuts chopped vs one cup of chopped nuts).

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So, I should take the recipe as it is grammatically intended. It makes sense. Apologies for the almost dupe, I did look around first, I obviously missed the correct keywords –  johnc Oct 18 '11 at 22:37
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No problem. I think there's a small difference in the two questions (volume vs weight) and some dupes are ok to get better coverage of searches. WRT my answer, note that this is how it should work and that people may not write recipes "properly", although it's safe to assume that they usually do. –  yossarian Oct 18 '11 at 23:08
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When I started cooking seriously I usually worked in terns of prepaed weights. However, my first thought (as a one-time scientist) is that although the recipe writer is may be lazy by not being exact in the specifications, I still take any recipe is just a starting point, and as I cook more I tend to keep checking and tweaking the recipe to try to get the right texture or taste according to the particular ingredients and the time of year. I have learned from my artistic partner who works in inexact units of bits, spashes , pinches, sploshes, and - especislly annoying - just enough ofs - until she's happy.

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I completely agree. As I stated, I do get creative after I've tried the 'as is' version a couple of times. It's just my pedantic developer nature I suppose :) It's when a recipe calls for 60g or 90g instead of, respectively, 50g or 100g I start to wonder why the precision is there. –  johnc Oct 19 '11 at 0:37
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