Every time I have a conversation with someone who’s considering starting a business selling their own food creations, I begin by emphasizing the importance of converting their recipes so they’re based on units of weight. Most home recipes, whether original or from a cookbook, are written using U.S. customary units of volume such as cups, quarts, tablespoons, etc.
At Food Methods, we encourage everyone, especially those planning a commercial food operation, to convert their recipes so that the ingredients are in units of weight. Not only will the results be more consistent but scaling the recipe up to production quantities will be much easier.
If you’ve read this blog post: Weighing The Ingredients, you’ll know that home cooking becomes much easier when you use a scale rather than measuring cups.
Also, when developing recipes for a commercial food operation, I strongly recommend working in the metric system rather than in U.S. customary units. Working in metric units is so much easier because in the metric system, everything is divisible by 10. This clears the way for scaling the quantities up or down whenever the batch size needs to change because the math is easier to figure. The U.S. is one of only three countries in the world that has not adopted the metric system (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MetricationintheUnitedStates). This fact alone should convince you to use the metric system for all your recipe formulations. If not, work with it for just a little while and you’ll see.
Developing recipes based on weight rather than volume is not only a good idea, it’s also a de-facto requirement for selling food products commercially. On your product label, the ingredients must be listed in descending order by weight. So sooner or later you’ll need to make the switch.
NutritionFactsSample.pngNow have a quick look at any Nutrition Facts panel and you’ll notice that the nutrients are reported in metric units. When the time comes to prepare the Nutrition Facts panel for your product labels, having your recipe in the metric system will eliminate the need for much of the tricky conversion factors and it will make your job that much easier.
Naturally, before you start converting your recipes, you’ll need a scale. There are many good ones on the market and they tend to be relatively inexpensive. We recommend buying an electronic scale with a digital readout. Look for one that goes from U.S. units to metric units just by pushing a button. Also, a scale that has a “tare” feature will automatically subtract the weight of the container. This will make it quicker and easier to weigh your ingredients. It’s worth pointing out that the kitchen scale you use for converting your home recipes won’t be the same one you will use for production. Generally, your production batch quantities will be much greater than what you’ll make at home.
Converting a recipe to units of weight is fairly straightforward. Start by setting your scale to metric units. Then go about measuring the ingredients as you normally would while writing down how much each amount weighs as you go. When you finish, you will have laid the groundwork for commercializing your recipe. As a final quality check, it’s always a good idea to prepare the recipe entirely from this new recipe using the ingredient weights that you determined. This way you’ll have the assurance that the converted recipe tastes as it should.