GSAnet Banner Swap


Welcome to the FAQ list and conversion helper!

The primary purpose of this document is to help cooks from different countries communicate with one another. The problem is that measurements and terms for food vary from country to country, even if both countries speak English.

However, some confusion cannot be avoided simply by making this list. You can help avoid the confusion by being as specific as possible. Try not to use brand names unless you also mention the generic name of the product. If you use terms like "a can" or "a box", give some indication of how much the package contains, either in weight or volume.

A few handy hints: a kiwi is a bird, the little thing in your grocery store is called a kiwi fruit. Whoever said "A pint's a pound the world around" must have believed the US was on another planet. And cast iron pans and bread machines can evoke some interesting discussion!

If you haven't already done so, now is as good a time as any to read the guide to Net etiquette which is posted to news.announce.newusers regularly. You should be familiar with acronyms like FAQ, FTP and IMHO, as well as know about smileys, followups and when to reply by email to postings.

This FAQ is currently posted to, news.answers, rec.answers and All posts to news.answers are archived, and it is possible to retrieve the last posted copy via anonymous FTP from as /pub/usenet/ Those without FTP access should send e-mail to with "send usenet/news.answers/finding-sources" in the body to find out how to get archived news.answers posts by e-mail.

This FAQ was initially written by Cindy Kandolf, and has been extended and maintained by Amy Gale, with contributions by readers of Credits appear at the end. Each section begins with forty dashes ("-") on a line of their own, then the section number. This should make searching for a specific section easy.

Any questions you have that are not addressed here will surely have many people on who are able to answer them - try it, and see.

Comments, corrections and changes to :

List of Answers  
1        Food Terms  
 1.1     Alphabetized List - different name, same food  
2        Substitutions and Equivalents  
 2.1     Flours  
 2.2     Leavening Agents 
 2.3     Dairy Products  
 2.4     Starches  
 2.5     Sugar and other sweeteners  
 2.6     Fats  
 2.7     Chocolates  
 2.8     Buttermilk/Cultured Milk  
3        US/UK/metric conversions   
 3.1     Oven temperatures  
 3.2     Food equivalences  
  3.2.   Flours  
  3.2.2  Cereals  
  3.2.3  Sugars  
  3.2.4  Fats and Cheeses  
  3.2.5  Vegetables and Fruit  
  3.2.6  Dried Fruit and Nuts  
  3.2.7  Preserves  
 3.3     American liquid measures  
 3.4     British liquid measures
 3.5     British short cuts
 3.6     General Conversion Tables
  3.6.1  International Liquid Measurements
  3.6.2  Weight
  3.6.3  US Liquid Measurements
  3.6.4  Miscellaneous
 3.7     Some Australian Conversions
  3.7.1  Metric Cups
  3.7.2  Metric Spoons
 3.8     Catties
 3.9     Authorities
4        Cooking Methods
5        Food newsgroups and mailing lists
 5.6     also...
 5.7     mailing lists
6        This has come up once too often
 6.1     The $250 cookie recipe
 6.2     Requests for "authentic" recipes
7        Ingredient Glossary
8        Distilled Wisdom on Equipment
 8.1     Woks
9        The Food Exchange
10       Archives
 10.1    Archives from
 10.2    Other cooking/food sites
11       The album
12       Sources
 12.1    Contributors
 12.2    Bibliography

1       Food Terms

A consistent list isn't much good if it's not helpful.  This list was
compiled with the goal of being helpful, so American, British, etc. 
terms are alphabetized all together.  I have received very little
input from folks in other English-speaking countries; more is
very much welcome.

I have received some comments that "That's not right!" for some of these
equivalents.  If i get several comments for the same item, i will
change it.  In any case, if in doubt, ask the person who originally
posted to recipe what he or she means.

1.1     Alphabetized List - different name, same food

This section has been moved to the ingredient glossary, section 6.

2        Substitutions and Equivalents

This section contains information on where substitutions can be made,
and what they can be made with.

2.1     Flours

US all-purpose flour and UK plain-flour can be substituted for one 
another without adjustment.  US cake flour is lighter than these.
It is not used much anymore, but if it does come up, you can substitute
all-pupose/plain flour by removing three tablespoons per cup of flour
and replacing it with corn starch or potato flour.

Self-raising flour contains 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2
teaspoon salt for each cup of flour.

US whole wheat flour is interchangeable with UK wholemeal flour.

2.2     Leavening agents

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate.  It must be mixed with acidic 
ingredients to work.  Baking powder contains baking soda and a 
powdered acid, so it can work without other acidic ingredients.

2.3     Dairy Products

Evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk both come in cans, both
are thick and a weird color... but are not, as i thought when i was
small, the same thing.  Sweetened condensed milk is, as the name implies,
mixed with sugar or another sweetener already.  It isn't found everywhere,
but this recipe makes a good, quick substitute:  Mix 1 cup plus 2
tablespoons dry (powdered) milk and 1/2 cup warm water.  When mixed, add
3/4 cup granulated sugar.

If a recipe calls for buttermilk or cultured milk, you can make sour
milk as a substitute.  For each cup you need, take one tablespoon of
vinegar or lemonjuice , then add enough milk to make one cup.  Don't
stir.  Let it stand for five minutes before using.

The minimum milk fat content by weight for various types of cream:
                   (UK)    (US)
Clotted Cream      55%
Double Cream       48%
Heavy Cream                36%
Whipping Cream     35%     30%
Whipped Cream      35%
Single Cream       18%     (=Light Cream)
Half Cream         12%     (=Half and Half)

For the definition of a specific dairy product, see section 6.

Quark (aka quarg)

Will all be added when I can find or determine some good definitions.
If you have one/some, I will be grateful.

2.4     Starches
UK cornflour is the same as US cornstarch.  Potato flour, despite its
name, is a starch, and cannot be substituted for regular flour.  It
often can be substituted for corn starch and vice versa. 

In the US, corn flour means finely ground cornmeal.  If in doubt about
which type of cornflour is meant in a recipe, ask the person who gave
it to you!  A couple of rules of thumb:
- in cakes, especially sponge cakes, it's likely to mean cornstarch
- as a coating for fried okra, it's likely to mean finely ground cornmeal

Cornmeal or polenta is not the same thing as cornstarch or cornflour!
What one can buy labelled `polenta' really looks no different to cornmeal
though, so hey, lets not panic too much.

Polenta is commonly used to describe cornmeal porridge but may also be
used to mean plain cornmeal.  Beware.

If you don't have cornstarch/corn flour, you can use twice the amount
of all-purpose/plain flour.  However, unless whatever you're adding it to
is allowed to boil, the result will taste starchy.

2.5     Sugar and other sweeteners
UK castor/caster sugar is somewhat finer than US granulated sugar.  There is
a product in the US called superfine sugar, which is about the same as
UK castor/caster sugar.  Usually, you can use granulated sugar in recipes
calling for castor/caster sugar and vice versa, but i've gotten reports of
times this didn't work so well!  As usual, give the recipe a trial run
with the substitute some time when it doesn't need to be perfect.

Corn syrup is common in the US but not always elsewhere.  Sugar
(golden) syrup can be substituted.  

Corn syrup comes in two flavours - dark and light.  Light corn syrup
is just sweet, dark has a mild molasses flavour.  Some people have
substituted dark corn syrup for golden syrup in ANZAC biscuits and
found it sucessful.  A common US brand is Karo

Golden syrup is a thick, golden brown (fancy that) byproduct of cane
sugar refining.  The taste is mostly sweet, although there is a slight
acidic, metallic component.  Lyle's is a common brand spoken about in, the New Zealand brandname is Chelsea.

If desperate, a plain sugar syrup may be a possible substitute, boil 2
parts sugar, 1 part water.  This could be messy.  You may want to thin
it out with water.  Again, you may want to try this out on your own
before making something for a special occassion.

Black treacle and blackstrap molasses are similar but not identical.

2.6     Fats

Shortening is solid, white fat made from hydrogenated vegetable oil.
(A popular brand name is Crisco, and many people call all shortening
Crisco.)  It is common in the US, tougher to find in some other parts
of the globe.  In my experience, you can usually but not always
substitute butter or margarine for shortening.  The result will have a
slightly different texture and a more buttery taste (which in the case
of, say, chocolate chip cookies seems to be an advantage!).  Sometimes
this doesn't work too well.  Not to sound like a broken record but -
try it out before an important occasion.

Copha is a solid fat derived from coconuts, it is fairly saturated and
used in recipes where it is melted, combined with other ingredients 
and left to set.

Lard can be successfully substituted in some recipes, for example it
makes very flaky pastry.

Deep frying requires fats/oils with heat-tolerant properties.  Butter
and margarine, for example, are right out, as are lard and olive oil.
Corn and peanut oils are both good.

2.7     Chocolates

If you don't have unsweetened baking chocolate, substitute three
tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder plus one tablespoon of
fat (preferably oil) for each one ounce square.

US dark chocolate is the same as UK plain chocolate, that is, the
darkest and least sweet of the chocolates intended for eating (also
called bittersweet).  What is called milk chocolate in the UK is
called milk chocolate in the US, too, but many people simply refer to
it as "chocolate".  The stuff called "semi-sweet chocolate" by some
folks is the US dark or UK plain.  "Bitter chocolate" is, apparently,
the UK term for high quality plain chocolate.

Some manufacturers apparently distinguish between "sweet dark,"
"semi-sweet" and "bittersweet" (Sarotti is one), but they seem to be
minor variations on a theme.

Chocolate chips are not necessarily a substitute for bar chocolates,
because the chips have something added to them to slow down melting.

2.8     Meats

If a recipe calls for spatchcocks, you can use cornish game hens

3       US/UK/metric conversions

My sources give credit to Caroline Knight (
as the original source of these tables.  

Where needed, the conversion used is 1kg = 2.2lb

   Here are some tables I've tried to compile using a variety of
   sources. Corrections and additions welcomed!
3.1     Oven Temperatures

   An approximate conversion chart(P):-

   Electric                    Gas mark    Description

   Farenheit   Centigrade

   225 F           110 C       1/4         Very cool
   250 F           130 C       1/2
   275 F           140 C       1           cool
   300 F           150 C       2
   325 F           170 C       3           very moderate
   350 F           180 C       4           moderate
   375 F           190 C       5
   400 F           200 C       6           moderately hot
   425 F           220 C       7           hot
   450 F           230 C       8
   475 F           240 C       9           very hot

3.2     Food Equivalences

   Sometimes the sources did not agree... I've given both:-

   British measure                 American equivalent

3.2.1   Flours

   flour - white plain/strong/     sifted flour - all-purpose/
       self-raising/unbleached         unbleached white
       4oz(P)                         1 cup
   wholemeal/stoneground           whole wheat
       6oz(K)                         1 cup
   cornflour                       cornstarch
       4 1/2 oz (P)                   1 cup
       5.3 oz (K)
   yellow corn meal/polenta        coarse corn meal/polenta
       6 oz(P)                        1 cup
   rye flour                       rye flour
       6 oz(P)                        1 cup

3.2.2   Cereals

   pearl barley                    pearl barley
       7 oz(P)                        1 cup
   rice/bulgar wheat/millet/wheat  rice/bulgar wheat/millet/wheat
       7 oz(K)                        1 cup
   semolina/ground rice/tapioca    semolina/ground rice/tapioca
       6 oz(P)                        1 cup
   fresh soft breadcrumbs/         fresh soft breadcrumbs/
       cake crumbs                     cake crumbs
       2 oz(P)                        1 cup
   dried breadcrumbs               dried breadcrumbs
       4 oz(P)                        1 cup
   porridge oats                   rolled oats
       3 1/2 oz(P)                    1 cup

3.2.3   Sugars

   light/dark soft brown sugar     light/dark brown sugar
       8 oz(P)                        1 cup (firmly packed)
   castor/caster/granulated sugar         granulated sugar
       7 1/2 oz(P)                    1 cup
   icing sugar                     sifted confectioners' sugar
       4 1/2 oz(P)                    1 cup

3.2.4   Fats and cheeses

   butter, margarine, cooking      butter, shortening, lard,
       fat, lard, dripping             drippings - solid or melted
       1 oz(P)                        2 tablespoons
       8 oz(P)                        1 cup
   grated cheese - cheddar type    grated cheese - cheddar type
       4 oz(P)                        1 cup
       1 lb(K)                        4 - 5 cups (packed)

3.2.5   Vegetables and fruit

   onion                           onion                 
       1 small to med                  1 cup chopped
   shelled peas                    shelled peas
       4 oz(P)                        3/4 cup
   cooked sweet corn               cooked sweet corn
       4 oz(P)                        1 cup
   celery                          celery
       4 sticks                        1 cup (chopped)
   chopped tomatoes                chopped tomatoes
       7 oz(P)                        1 cup
   button mushrooms                button mushrooms
       3-4 oz(P)                      1 cup
   chopped pickled beetroot        chopped pickled beetroot
       2 oz(P)                        1/3 cup
   black/redcurrants/bilberries    black/redcurrants/bilberries
       4 oz(P)                        1 cup
   raspberries/strawberries        raspberries/strawberries
       5 oz(P)                        1 cup

   Dried beans:
   black/lentils/chick peas/pinto/ black/lentils/chick peas/pinto/
       white                           white
       3 1/2 oz(K)                    1/2 cup

3.2.6   Dried fruit and nuts, etc

   currants/sultanas/raisins/      currants/sultanas/raisins/
       chopped candied peel            chopped candied peel
       5-6 oz(P)                      1 cup
       2 oz(K - raisins)              1/3 cup
   glace cherries                  candied cherries
       8 oz(P)                        1 cup
   sesame seeds                    sesame seeds
       3 1/2 oz                        3/4 cup
   whole shelled almonds           whole shelled almonds
       5 oz(P)                        1 cup
   ground almonds                  ground almonds
       4 oz(P)                        1 cup
   chopped nuts                    chopped nuts
       2 oz(K)                        1/3 to 1/2 cup

   Nut butters:
   peanut/almond/cashew etc        peanut/almond/cashew etc
       8 oz(K)                        1 cup

3.2.7   Preserves

   clear honey/golden syrup/       clear honey/golden syrup/
       molasses/black treacle          molasses/black treacle
       12 oz(P)                       1 cup
   maple/corn syrup                maple/corn syrup
       11 oz(P)                       1 cup
   jam/marmalade/jelly             jam/marmalade/jelly
       5-6 oz(P)                      1/2 cup

3.3     American Liquid Measures

   1 pint             450 ml ( 16 fl oz) (RD)
   1 cup              225 ml (  8 fl oz) (RD & K)
   1 tablespoon        16 ml (1/2 fl oz) (K)

3.4     British Liquid Measures

   1 pint             570 ml ( 20 fl oz) 
   1 breakfast cup           ( 10 fl oz) 1/2 pint 
   1 tea cup                             1/3 pint 
   1 tablespoon        15 ml (RD)
   1 dessertspoon      10 ml (RD)
   1 teaspoon           5 ml (RD)        1/3 tablespoon 

And from
"Mastering the art of French cooking". Penguin UK, issue 1961
           UK          UK oz                Metric ml        US oz
          1 quart       40                    1140           38.5 
          1 pint        20                     570
          1 cup         10
          1 gill         5         
          1 fluid oz     1                     28.4          0.96
          1 tbl         5/8  (1/16 cup)        17.8?
          1 dsp         1/3                    10
          1 tsp         1/6                     5

3.5     British Short Cuts   (S)

   Cheese (grated)             1 oz = 4 level tablespoons
   Cocoa or chocolate powder   1 oz = 3 level tablespoons
   Coconut (desicated)         1 oz = 4 level tablespoons
   Flour (unsifted)            1 oz = 3 level tablespoons
   Sugar (castor/caster)              1 oz = 2 level tablespoons
         (granulated)          1 oz = 2 level tablespoons
          (icing)              1 oz = 2 1/2 level tablespoons
   Syrup (golden)              1 oz = 1 level tablespoons

3.6     General Conversion Tables

Some general tables for volume and weight conversions
(mostly by Cindy Kandolf)

3.6.1   International Liquid Measurements

              standard cup      tablespoon      teaspoon

Canada           250ml            15ml            5ml
Australia        250ml        **  20ml **         5ml
New Zealand      250ml            15ml            5ml
UK               250ml            15ml            5ml

3.6.2   Weight

             1 ounce = 28.4 g  (can usually be rounded to 25 or 30)
             1 pound = 454 g   
             1 kg    = 2.2 pounds

3.6.3   US Liquid Measurements

             1 liter = 1.057 quarts
                       2.1 pints
             1 quart = 0.95 liter
             1 gallon= 3.8 liters
             1/8 cup = 2 tablespoons
             1/4 cup = 4 tablespoons
             1/3  "  = 0.8 dl
             1/2  "  = 1.2 dl
             2/3  "  = 1.6 dl
             3/4  "  = 1.75 dl
             7/8  "  = 2.1 dl
             1 cup   = 2.4 dl
             1 dl    = 2/5 cup
                     = 6 to 7 tablespoons
3.6.4   Miscellaneous

             1 UK pint is about 6 dl
             1 UK liquid oz is 0.96 US liquid oz.

             a "stick" of butter or margarine weighs 4 oz and is
                1/2 cup US.
             each 1/4 cup or half stick butter or margarine in
                US recipes weighs about 50 g.
             there are 8 tablespoons in 1/4 pound butter

3.7     Some Australian Conversions

From a post on from Stephanie da Silva

3.7.1   Metric Cups

Metric Cups                             Grams           Ounces
                                        (approx)        (approx)

1 cup butter                            250             8 3/4
1 cup biscuit (cookie) crumbs           110             3 3/4
1 cup breadcrumbs, soft                 60              2
1 cup breadcrumbs, dry                  125             4 1/2
1 cup cheese, grated                    125             4 1/2
1 cup cocoa                             110             3 3/4
1 cup cornflour (cornstarch)            125             4 1/2
1 cup cornflakes                        30              1
1 cup rice bubbles (rice crispies)      30              1
1 cup coconut, desiccated (flaked)      95              3 1/4
1 cup dried split peas, lentils         200             7
1 cup dried fruit                       160             5 3/4
1 cup dates, chopped                    150             5 1/4
1 cup flour, plain, self-rising         125             4 1/2
1 cup flour, wholemeal (whole wheat)    135             4 3/4
1 cup golden syrup, honey, glucose      360             12 3/4
1 cup jam                               330             11 1/2
1 cup nuts, chopped                     125             4 1/2
1 cup oats, rolled                      90              3 1/4
1 cup rice, short grain                 210             7 1/2
1 cup rice, long grain                  200             7
1 cup salt, or crystal sugar            250             8 3/4
1 cup castor sugar (superfine)          220             7 3/4
1 cup soft brown sugar, firmly packed   170             6
1 cup icing sugar (confectioners')      150             5

1 cup = 250 mls

3.7.2   Metric Spoons

Metric spoons                           Grams           Ounces

1 level tablespoon peanut butter        20              2/3
1 level tablespoon baking powder, 
 bicarb soda, cream of tartar, 
 gelatine, rice, sago                   15              1/2
1 level tablespoon cocoa, cornflour,
 custard powder, nuts                   10              1/2
1 level tablelspoon golden syrup,
 treacle, honey, glucose                30              1
1 level tablespoon sugar, salt          20              2/3
1 level tablespoon yeast, compressed    20              2/3

1 tablespoon = 20 mls
1 teaspoon = 5 mls

3.8     Catties

In ancient China, 
        1 catty = 1.33 pound = 600 grams.
In Modern China, this went with kilograms and stuff. To make the transition
easier for the average people. They invented a new kind of catty.
        1 catty = 0.5 kilo  ( = 1.1 pound )

However, old books from Hong Kong and Taiwan still uses the
old catty = 600 grams.
3.9     Authorities

   K = Mollie Katzen from "Still Life with Menu"
   P = Marguerite Patten from "Cookery in Colour"
   RD = Forward to British edition of "The Rotation Diet"
   S  = Ursula Sedgwick from "My Fun-to-cook-book"

4       Cooking Methods

This is a new section added on 20 August 1997.  If you would like to
contribute a paragraph for one of these methods, or add another
method, please send it to me.


5       Food Newsgroups and mailing lists


a.k.a. us: A group for the discussion of cooking
in general.  Recipes and requests for recipes are welcome here, as
are discussions of cooking techniques, equipment, etc.  In short,
if it has to do with cooking, it probably belongs here - though that
doesn't mean it doesn't belong somewhere else, too!


A moderated newsgroup for recipes and requests for recipes. Each week
an article called "Posting Guidelines" explains how to post recipes or
requests.  The lead moderator is Patricia D. Hill,


Pretty self-explanatory.


About vegetarianism.  It also has its own FAQ list,
with questions about the myths and truths of the vegetarian diet,
information on where to get "cruelty-free" products, etc.
Is probably going to be splitting RSN.

`` is a newsgroup devoted to the discussion of 
recipes, equipment, and techniques of food preservation.  Current
food preservation techniques that rightly should be discussed in 
this forum include canning, freezing, dehydration, pickling, smoking,
salting, distilling, and potting.  Foodstuffs are defined as produce
(both fruits and vegetables), meat, fish, dairy products, culinary
and medicinal herbs.  Discussions should be limited to home-grown
or home-preserved foods.''
(From the FAQ)

5.6     also...

alt.bacchus  (an oxymoron if ever I heard one)  (mmmm....coca cola...)

5.7     mailing lists

Please help me here.  There is a bread machine list, and EAT-L, and
others, all contributions gratefully welcomed.  See Stephanie da
Silva's list of Publically Accessible Mailing Lists, posted regularly
to news.answers and news.lists as well as being available on the WWW at

GO TO PAGE 2 - Cooking FAQ