I've been doing research on kitchen scales lately because my old set - a much-used, fairly inexpensive but dependable digital device I purchased years ago at Muji - is about to pack up. Although I've changed the battery, the scale is very slow to start up. Even when there's nothing on it, the display wavers between zero and up to about five grams.

I'm trying to balance what I would like with what is practical. A super-expensive, super-precise scale that measures down to a 100th of a gram might be good for scientists and drug dealers (of which I am neither) but, unless you're weighing things such as sodium alginate or calcium lactate for modernist cuisine, you probably won't need that precision. I'm not looking to buy a scale that is capable of weighing less than a gram because most of the people who use my recipes won't have one that is so precise.

Here are my basic requirements for a kitchen scale. As with my last one, I'm looking for a digital type. As much as I'd love an old-fashioned set of scales, on which you put weights on one side and ingredients on the other until a balance is attained, they take up too much counter space and are useless if you lose the weights. Dial scales - in which you place items on top and twist a dial back to zero before weighing the next item - have springs that wear out, affecting accuracy.

Most digital scales are compact and can be stored in a cupboard. Look for one that can switch between avoirdupois and metric. Although the latter is much easier to use, some cookbooks still use old-fashioned pounds and ounces. The scale should also have a tare function, which means you can put a bowl on the scale and press a button to reset it at zero before weighing an ingredient in the bowl.

The scale should accurately weigh something as light as one gram and as heavy as at least 2kg. A removable platform is easier to clean and helps you avoid getting water or detergent near the working parts. You can wrap the scale in cling-film to keep it clean.

Almost all the scales I've looked at meet these minimum requirements. So when I've finally narrowed down my choices according to design - because I also want mine to look good - I'm going to test them to see how long each takes before it switches off when not in use. Most digital scales do this to save wear on the battery but it's a problem if they switch off when you're in the middle of weighing something.


Truc (tryk): noun, masculine, trick, gimmick, device. A French word for a chef's secret.