Review: retro kitchen scales

Growing up, I used a hopelessly old fashioned set of scales that has a place in my heart even now. They were the balancing type that required a steady hand when adding ingredients, and a good eye for a horizontal line. The edges of the weights had been worn smooth and rounded with use, and young me didn’t realise that the tiny “oz” engraved in each one meant “ounce”. We didn’t have a digital set for weighing grams when precision was needed, but somehow the lack of accuracy didn’t result in any mishaps, something which many modern cooks would probably have you believe is a total fluke. It was a way of cooking that might not have adhered strictly to the science of baking, but made learning measurements by eye seem a lot easier.

But now digital scales are king, and the ounce has all but been eradicated from modern cooking. There’s been a bit of discussion about measurements on Twitter lately, with every cook and baker loyal to one particular method. With the proliferation of blogging, seeing American measures has become a lot more common, adding another level of translation to using recipes. A lot of people don’t see the point of weighing in ounces any more, and even more don’t understand the cup measurement, particularly us British bakers.

Personally, I use ounces, grams, and cups, depending on the recipe, clearly no longer loyal to my ounces-only cooking roots. So when I was offered scales to review that weighed in ounces and grams, of course I wanted to give them a go.

Review: retro kitchen scales | The Littlest BakehouseIt’s hard of hard to write a review of something that’s so essential and commonplace – but what it really comes down to is the question: “is this product worth the space it takes up in my kitchen?”

There’s no getting around it: they’re big, especially for my teeny kitchen, taking up space that could be used for yet more boxes of strangely-flavoured teabags.

But. They did make a significant difference to the way I eat. They changed how much I eat, because there was no excuse not to weigh out what I was using. Don’t get me wrong, my digital scales aren’t that far away, safely stashed on a shelf I don’t even have to get on tip-toes to reach. But that means getting them down, turning them on, zeroing the weight – nothing strenuous, but enough to be forgotten in bleary-eyed early mornings. With these right there in front of me, there was no reason to try to eyeball what 50g of granola looks like. They’ve become a part of how I prepare my meals, so that now I pop jars on the scales to make sure I’m only using a third, instead of haphazardly throwing ingredients in and hoping for the best.

The fact that they weigh in ounces and grams is also, for me, a distinct advantage – the maths between the two may be quite simple, but it’s not as simple as doing no maths.

However, I’m naturally incredibly messy in the person – one of those people who ends up wearing as much flour as they use – and there’s one flaw in these scales that didn’t help with that. The bowl for weighing is really rather wide, which makes pouring flour into a bowl or jar that’s smaller than it a bit of a nightmare. It’d be useful if the bowl had a spout, to help encourage ingredients into a bowl or container rather than all over the kitchen worktop.

Although they have helped change my food habits, the lack of spout does mean that they sometimes require a little more thought and careful pouring. But it’s a small niggle. The answer to that question is yes, they’re absolutely worth the space they take up. Especially as they’re super stylish, and bring that nice pop of colour to an otherwise monochrome room.

Find these scales – also in ivory, light pink, and baby blue – at dotcomgiftshop.