A pinch of this, a dash of that. Did you know that pinch, dash and yes, smidgen are actual measures in culinary terms?
Commonly used for dry ingredients such as sugar, salt or spices; a pinch is equal to the amount one can pinch between the thumb and forefinger. A dash, on the other hand is the amount on can grab between the thumb and two fingers, while a smidgen is commonly defined as ‘a very small amount of’.
Pinch, dash and smidgen are imprecise measures, and highly subject to change (depending of course on the size of one’s fingers), but they’re still used in cooking today, and if you’re a fan of retro cookbooks (like me) these are terms you see on a regular basis.
So, just how much is a pinch, a dash or a smidgen in modern measures and weights?
- Dash = 1⁄8 teaspoon
- Pinch = 1⁄16 teaspoon
- Smidgen = 1⁄32 teaspoon
For the math inspired, that’s two pinches in a dash and two smidgens in a pinch.
In weights, for the measuring crowd:
(Of which I am one, it’s much more accurate and convenient when making fifty of something)
- A pinch of fine salt is approximately 1⁄4 gram
- A pinch of sugar is about 1⁄6 gram
Ingredients vary greatly by weight, so tread carefully, but the same fractions apply: a smidgen is half a pinch, a pinch is half a dash.
A little retro terminology for the precise, modern cook. Now you know.
Source: The Food Encycolpidia