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One problem I've had that I know others have too is when pouring from those Pyrex glass measuring cups. I just saw it happen in the Binging with Babish video:

enter image description here

Is there any good way to prevent this? I've tried pouring fast and slow, but it always seems to get liquid coming from the sides, thus making a mess.

  • I found your discussion quite interesting, but flaggers complained (rightly) that it is becoming long and difficult to follow, also distracting. For anybody interested in weighing rather than measuing by volume, please see the comments which have been moved to chat. – rumtscho Nov 22 '17 at 13:55
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    related explanation on the why on Phisics.SE – Mindwin Nov 22 '17 at 17:36
  • Answers in comments will be deleted. If you want to answer, please check the numerous answers already posted and see if your idea is already there, and if not, post an actual answer. – Cascabel Nov 26 '17 at 18:47
  • I consider this a design flaw. Who approved this design?! – Michael Aug 30 '18 at 1:57

11 Answers 11

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Use a larger measuring cup so it is only partly full. Then the cup will be tilted more when the pour starts.

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    I like this a lot, simple and effective. It helps you pour faster and "commit" to the pour. Every additional degree of tilt increases the surface area of the liquid and hence the volume you're pouring. The same hand rotation results in a faster pour with a tilted cup. – Nuclear Wang Nov 22 '17 at 2:47
  • Downside: takes more space in the dishwasher. Minor downside: measurement accurately is slightly lower. – Peter Cordes Nov 23 '17 at 3:25
  • @PeterCordes Probably no less accurate: you'd likely be replacing this rather squat jug with a taller one of about the same width. – David Richerby Nov 23 '17 at 16:23
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    @DavidRicherby By far the most common style of larger measuring cups for liquids, like the one pictured in the OP, has larger ones that are both wider and taller. (This lets you store them nested, so they take up way way less cabinet space than they would if they were all the same width.of) You really do lose accuracy as you move to larger sizes. There are a lot of variations of sizes, but for example: images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/… – Cascabel Nov 24 '17 at 4:08
  • It still spills even when I used a quart measuring cup! – Michael Aug 30 '18 at 1:56
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The method that I always use is just to pour down whatever utensil I'm using at the moment (e.g. spoon, knife, rubber scraper, etc.). You just press the utensil into the pouring notch as you pour and the liquid will follow the utensil (bartenders will often use this "trick" when making cocktails).

  • I learned this from my 9th grade science teacher. We really didn't want to be spilling acids if we could help it :) – chepner Nov 22 '17 at 15:44
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    In chemistry, the pour spouts are usually a lot more reliable, so a lot of the point there is to avoid splatter: it flows more smoothly down the utensil into the liquid that's already in there, instead of just falling in and splashing. But that's definitely a benefit in the kitchen too! – Cascabel Nov 23 '17 at 6:40
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    This one weird trick will save your cocktail dress. Bartenders hate her. – Chloe Nov 25 '17 at 18:56
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There are two options I've found that work.

The easier one is, just controlling the flow. Make sure the front bottom edge of your measuring cup is also above the pan, and while it drips - it will drip into the pan. This can be tricky if the pan is only a little wider than the measuring cup itself, but it can often help once the dripping starts (since once the front is wet, there's a bit of pull that way via surface tension, and the liquid likes to keep following that path). Specifically, in that picture, the measuring cup can probably be moved two or three inches towards the far side of the pan without issue, and the drip is only one inch or so from being over the edge of the near side.

The trickier one is to pour more cleanly. Pouring fast helps - one sort of example is quickly dumping it into the pot, where there isn't time to drip and the sprout is very quickly lower then the bottom edge anyway... though that does mean you have less control over the flow. But, more than that, the trick is to never "let up" - that is, once it starts pouring, the angle should only get deeper, never shallower.

When the angle gets moved from deeper to more level, even a bit, the spout functionally swings backwards in relation to the pot, and the angle of the stream of liquid can easily sloshes back enough to touch the side. Once wet that side becomes a path of less resistance, and so it slides down instead of pours clean. It is really easy to do accidentally, a little rock backwards to slow the stream or gentle it as the pot gets fuller, or to look into the pot or away to something else, or just any means of getting distracted for a second.

As an aside, if it starts to spill down the side when pouring, either move the bottom over the pot, dump the liquid fast, or stop to clean and dry before pouring again - the wet side is easier to go down, so once it starts it won't pour cleanly till the side is dry again, despite most any techniques.

Well, actually, another possibility is to nudge the spout of the measuring cup over the side of the pot, actually touching the pot's side. As I mentioned, running down a side is easier than jumping off - so if the spout is touching the side of the pot, it will tend to run straight down that inside instead of trying to jump over the edge backwards to run down at a shallower angle.

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    Related: you can also often pour down a spoon/handle, so that surface tension pulls it that way. – Cascabel Nov 21 '17 at 22:16
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    If you blow up the photo, you can see that the milk's pouring over the rim where it is not part of the spout. She’s pouring too fast, not too slow. – JDługosz Nov 22 '17 at 9:05
  • @JDługosz - She is either pouring too fast or too slow, both options work - it is really the in-between speeds that fail the worst. Beanluc's answer, pouring slow, is good advice, it just doesn't work well for me and some spouts just aren't that good. Pouring quickly is also valid, the speed and techniques I use are the same techniques used when pouring from one pot to another (ie, it works even when there's no spout at all). The spout isn't controlling the liquid but providing a rough guide, which is why it's important to tilt fast so the side doesn't stay a straighter path down. – Megha Nov 23 '17 at 4:12
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Those shortform cups are harder to use than the tallform of the same volume. You get larger waves moving across the surface that contribute to volume surges at the lip. Overload the lip, and liquid won't break cleanly at the lip bottom. It curves around and you get spillage. A better designed measuring cup will make your pouring easier.

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    Very much this. Measuring cups are cheap enough to just get better designed one and not bother. Narrower, with pouring notch, and that's it. – Mołot Nov 22 '17 at 0:25
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Go slower and let the spout/pointy part of the lip do its job.

The reason spilling is happening in the picture is because the pourer is pouring faster than the spout part of the cup can handle.

The cup in the picture does have a pretty small spout, granted. To avoid spill, the pourer would have to go pretty slow with this cup.

The pointy part of the lip on a measuring cup like this WILL let out a flow of liquid dropping straight down into the receiving vessel without causing any of it to run down the outside of the cup you're pouring from, but only if the poured liquid is actually flowing through the spout and not flooding past the spout and pouring down the regular round edge of the measuring cup. If you pour more than the lip-shape can catch, then you're really not doing any different than pouring over the side or back of the cup where there is no spout/lip.

Short answer: If that's too slow for you, then you can switch measuring cups to one with a bigger, deeper, wider spout so that more fluid can flow through it in the short time you're willing to spend.

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    Isn't this exactly the opposite of what you should do? If you pour very slowly, then surface tension causes the pour to run 100% along the outside of the jug, whereas a very fast pour will have so much momentum that nothing will run down the outside. (And half of it will bounce out of the pan, which is a separate issue.) – David Richerby Nov 22 '17 at 18:31
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    Not if the lip is shaped correctly, @DavidRicherby. Properly designed spouts are shaped so that when liquid falls off the end of it, it can't stick to the outside of the container and flow UP to then run down the side. Instead it pours straight down, into the receiving vessel. – Beanluc Nov 22 '17 at 18:47
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    OK but this lip isn't shaped correctly, which is the whole problem. – David Richerby Nov 23 '17 at 16:18
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The physics explanation is that surface tension causes the liquid to adhere to the glass, and you need sufficient force to break that adhesion. The pour spout on Pyrex measuring cups is the worst because it's rounded, providing a nice gentle slope for the liquid to dribble down.

There are two fixes for this;

One is to pour all the liquid out very quickly all at once.

Otherwise, if you have to pour slowly, use a cup that is twice as big as the amount you're measuring. This way the pour angle will be too steep for the liquid to dribble down the side.

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An old grandmum's trick is to wipe a bit of butter on the underside (outside surface) of the spout. Because the butter is an oil it is hydrophobic (water beads up on hydrophobic surfaces instead of wetting them) so the water or milk's own surface tension will hold it together and discourage it from wetting and running down the glass surface.

This also works with stubborn teapots that never want to pour properly.

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Warm the liquid prior to pouring. Warm/hot liquids are less viscous and are less likely to cling to the surface of the vessel while pouring. If warming the liquid is an option (hot water instead of cold, for example), it'll pour faster and more cleanly.

Also, pouring slowly while allowing for at least a perpendicular angle between the spout tip and the surface will prevent this overflowing effect which is often the case of using a shallow spout angle with a mostly full vessel. Vessels without spouts benefit from faster/all-in-one pouring motions.

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Maybe stating the obvious, but if possible, have the bottom of the pitcher above the target as well so if anything runs down the side it still ends up in the target and not on the counter. Still makes a mess on the pitcher, but that is probably easier to clean up.

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    This reminds me of a situation where the problem was so bad I just ended up not pouring from the tip but rather only from the bottom of the pitcher. You look silly when you do that, but whatever works! – A.N. Nov 23 '17 at 22:35
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Use a beaker! (:

Or a measuring cup with a good tip. Our (glass) Pyrex measuring cups have these.

They have "drip tips" that allow you to pour without worrying as much about spillage:

Beakers

(from Wikipedia)

Edit: Oops, I didn't see that you have the same kind (probably; I can't see the spout in the picture). Pouring carefully (but not too slowly) helps.

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Tilt the cup longitudinally so that you're pouring on a slant, not directly tilting the container toward the cup. This will simulate a pouring spout and allow the pour to proceed more cleanly.

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