Cup (unit)
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The cup is a unit of measurement for volume,
used in cooking to measure liquids and bulk foods such as granulated sugar. It is principally
used in the United States and Liberia where it is a legally defined unit of measurement.
Actual cups used in a household in any country may differ from the cup size used for recipes;
standard measuring cups, often calibrated in fluid measure and weights of usual dry
ingredients as well as in cups, are available. As a result of the fact that the imperial
cup is actually out of use and the other definitions differ little, the U.S. measuring cups and
metric measuring cups may be used as equal in practice.
No matter what size cup is used, the ingredients of a recipe measured with the same size cup
will have their volumes in the same proportion to one another. The relative amounts to ingredients
measured differently may be affected by the definitions used. Metric cup
In the Commonwealth of Nations, Latin America and Lebanon the metric one cup i.e. 250 milliliters
is rarely used as it has been replaced by the metric system.
A “coffee cup” is 1.5 dl or 150 millilitres or 5.07 US customary fluid ounces, and is
occasionally used in recipes. It is also used in the US to specify coffeemaker sizes. A
“12-cup” US coffeemaker makes 57.6 US customary fluid ounces of coffee, or 6.8 metric cups
of coffee. In spite of what the name suggests a metric
cup is not a unit of volume in the international system.
United States customary cup United States customary cup is defined as
half a U.S. pint. United States “legal” cup
The cup currently used in the United States for nutrition labeling is defined in United
States law as 240 mL. Imperial cup
The imperial cup, unofficially defined as half an imperial pint, is rarely found today.
It may still appear on older kitchen utensils and in older recipe books.
Japanese cup The Japanese cup is currently defined as 200 mL.
Gō The traditional Japanese cup, the gō, is
approximately 180 mL. 10 gō make one shō, the traditional flask size, approximately
1.8 litres. Gō cups are typically used for measuring rice, and sake is typically sold
by the cup, the bottle, and flask sizes. Note modern sake bottle sizes are almost the same
as the 750 mL international standard for wine bottles, but are divisible into 4 gō.
Using volume measures to estimate mass In Europe, cooking recipes normally state
any liquid volume larger than a few tablespoons in millilitres, the scale found on most measuring
cups worldwide. Non-liquid ingredients are normally weighed in grams instead, using a
kitchen scale, rather than measured in cups. Most recipes in Europe use the millilitre
or decilitre as a measure of volume. For example, where an American customary recipe might specify
“1 cup of sugar and 2 cups of milk”, a European recipe might specify “200 g sugar and 500 mL
of milk”. Conversion between the two measures must take into account the density of the
ingredients. Many European measuring cups have additional scales for common bulk ingredients
like sugar, flour, or rice to make the process easier.
See also Measuring cup
Tasse à café Notes
^ 1 U.S. customary cup=16 tablespoons exactly using the old U.S. customary tablespoon of
1⁄2 U.S. fl oz. ^ exactly
^ by 1891 definition ^ One gram per millilitre is very close to
one avoirdupois ounce per fluid ounce: 1 g/mL ≈ 1.002 av oz/imp fl oz This is not
a numerical coincidence, but comes from the original definition of the kilogram as the
mass of one litre of water, and the imperial gallon as the volume occupied by ten avoirdupois
pounds of water. The slight difference is due to water at 4 °C being used for the
kilogram, and at 62 °F for the imperial gallon. The U.S. fluid ounce is slightly larger.
1 g/mL ≈ 1.043 av oz/U.S. fl oz ^ The density of water ranges from about 0.96
to 1.00 g/mL dependent on temperature and pressure. The table above assumes a temperature
range 0–30 °C. The variation is too small to make any difference in cooking.
Water density calculator The Physics Factbook ^ Since an imperial cup of water weighs approximately
10 avoirdupois ounces and five imperial cups are approximately equal to six U.S. cups,
one U.S. cup of water weighs approximately 81⁄3 avoirdupois ounces.
References ^ “coherent units”. BIPM. Retrieved 2014-05-26. 
^ ^ U.S. Government Printing Office—Electronic
Code of Federal Regulations ^ U.S. Food and Drug Administration—Guidelines
for Determining Metric Equivalents of Household Measures
^ In the absence of measuring cups, tablespoons can be used for volume measurement.
^ The term international tablespoon as used in this article refers to the 15 mL tablespoon
used in most countries. ^ The Australia tablespoon is defined as 20 mL
^ 1 g/mL is a good rough guide for water-based liquids such as milk.
^ a b c L. Fulton, E. Matthews, C. Davis: Average weight of a measured cup of various
foods. Home Economics Research Report No. 41, Agricultural Research Service, United
States Department of Agriculture, Washington, DC, 1977.

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