What Is the Difference Between Liquid and Dry Measurements?

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Dry measurements are larger than liquid measurements by 16 percent in the United States. Dry and liquid measurements also pertain to specific measuring tools used during cooking.

A dry measure is a unit of volume pertaining to dry goods, such as grain. Dry measures are often specific to what they measure, such as bales of hay, cords of wood or hogsheads of tobacco. Because of the difficulty in measuring volume accurately, most dry measures are associated with a particular mass in modern measurement systems. Those masses are tailored to the product being measured, so that bushels of grain and apples are two different masses.

In cooking, dry and liquid measures have the same names, such as cups or tablespoons, but different tools measure them. Liquid measuring cups typically consist of a single cup with a spout for pouring and lines indicating different levels. Dry measuring cups tend to come in sets and each measurement utilizes a different cup.

Liquid measures are filled to the appropriate line and poured. Dry measures are filled to the top of the cup and leveled off. It is best to fill a dry measure cup by dumping small amounts into the cup rather than scooping, as this eliminates the possibility of packing the ingredient down.