Aren’t the words we use funny sometimes? Have you ever had gobs of fun at a birthday party? Or have you ever helped make a recipe that called for a smidgen of cinnamon or a pinch of salt or a dash of Tabasco sauce? What do these words mean?
Believe it or not, some of these words only have general meanings, while others have specific measurements associated with them. Grab a set of measuring spoons, and let’s learn a bit more about these unique measuring terms.
A gob, for example, is a general term meaning a large amount. It’s often used in its plural form: gobs. So, if you’ve had gobs of fun at a birthday party in the past, you had a whole lot of fun.
On the other hand, a smidgen refers to a very small amount. Other forms of smidgen include smidgeon, smidgin or smidge. Obviously, a gob is definitely more than a smidgen!
Smidgen is more than just a general term, though. It — along with several other unique words — has a specific, measurable meaning, too.
Although you can find different opinions on the subject, many cooks believe that a smidgen is equal to 1/32 teaspoon. Others believe a smidgen may be either 1/25 teaspoon or even 1/48 teaspoon. In any case, it’s a very small amount!
In descending order, here are some popular — and unique — measurements for very small amounts:
- tad = 1/8 teaspoon
- dash = 1/16 teaspoon
- pinch = 1/24 teaspoon
- smidgen = 1/32 teaspoon
- drop = 1/60 teaspoon
- hint = a trace
Using these measurement guidelines, two smidgens would equal one dash. But is it really important to measure such small amounts? Maybe — it depends on whom you ask.
Some cooks will tell you that improperly measuring ingredients is the fastest way to ruin a recipe. Of course, in many situations, that could be true. A cake recipe that calls for two cups of flour could certainly suffer if you used three or four cups of flour by mistake.
But what about tiny amounts? Some cooks believe these historically tiny amounts were never intended to have definite measurements associated with them. They believe these unique names were developed to describe small, indefinite amounts used merely to add flavor to certain dishes.
For example, many cooks would tell you that it won’t matter much whether you put a tad, a dash, a pinch or a smidgen of something in a recipe. All you’ll do is add a bit of flavor, regardless of the exact amount. When so little of an ingredient is needed, the exact amount is irrelevant.
When it comes to larger measurements of key ingredients, like sugar, flour and baking powder, though, careful measurement can make a much bigger difference. So don’t sweat the small stuff, but pay close attention when a recipe calls for larger amounts of ingredients!