How Much is a Pinch of Salt or Other Seasonings?

Posted on 01 Apr 2015 20:00

Some people just hate the idea of being inaccurate when cooking. One of the most common inaccurate measurements is a "pinch." You are likely to find a pinch of salt, for example, called for in a recipe.

How much is a pinch in teaspoons?

Pinch of Salt in Teaspoons

A pinch, in case you didn't know, is just as much as you can pick up of a granulated or ground ingredient between your thumb and forefinger. You might even add a pinch of dried herb. The texture of the ingredient will determine the amount, and some of us have larger fingers. Therefore, a real pinch is going to vary somewhat. However, we can estimate a pinch as 1/16 teaspoon.

How Much is a Dash Of Salt?

If you keep your salt in a wide-mouthed container, or you're being a fancy TV chef and you have some salt poured into a little bowl, you would use your fingers to get a pinch of it. If you are using a salt shaker, you might use a dash. You sometimes use a dash of liquid ingredients, such as Worcestershire sauce, which come in shaker bottles that dispense a little at a time. One shake of Worcestershire is a dash. How much is that?

Most modern sources commonly accept a dash as being 1/8 teaspoons or less, but it all depends on what you are "dashing." Older sources define a dash in many different ways, indicating that there never was any precise definition. A dash has been defined as a teaspoon, 1/8 teaspoon, and 1/16 teaspoon. One source defined a dash of salt or pepper as "8 good shakes" or 1/8 teaspoons. Eight good shakes from my salt shaker, indeed, turned out to be approximately 1/8 teaspoons. I would not use this measurement, however, as it is best to start with less salt and pepper and add according to taste. It is probably best to think of a dash as being the same as a pinch, and go by taste, depending on what the ingredient is.

pinch of salt from salt bowl
pinch of salt from salt bowl

Now, measuring spoon sets don't even come in 1/16 teaspoons. In fact, the very small spoons were developed in the first place to replace old-time cookbook measurements such as pinch, dash, or smidgeon. Although these spoons have their place when precision is needed, there was never any need for a replacement for these approximate measurements.

While you may be tempted to carefully measure one half of 1/8 teaspoons, you'd be wasting your time. When recipes use inaccurate measurements like "pinch" or "dash" it is because you simply do not need to be that accurate. The slight difference between on pinch and another will not matter. In fact, when you want a pinch of seasoning, you are really seasoning to taste. For example, you add a pinch of salt to a sauce, taste it for saltiness, find it needs more salt, and add another pinch.

Cooking is not like baking, or candy-making. It is rare that you need highly precise measurements. As well, sometimes baking measurements call for a dash or pinch of salt. For these recipes as well, you probably don't need to be all that accurate. So, not that you have satisfied your curiosity, you can go back to using your fingers.

Checking for Salt In a Recipe Tip

Be careful when checking for saltiness in your dish. While you want the salt to bring out the flavor, you don't want it to actually taste "salty" most of the time (some salty snacks are an exception). If you add a little salt to some soup, immediately taste it and think it needs more salt, then immediately add more, you might end up with a soup that is too salty. You need to wait a little while and make sure all the salt is dissolved and dispersed throughout the dish.

Remember, good cooking takes patience.

Pinch of salt image © amphotolt - Fotolia

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