Scales Buying Guide

Mechanical and Digital Scales

Read more about different types of kitchen scales like hanging, bench, and pizza scales to determine which one is best for your restaurant.

A scale in your kitchen is as necessary as a kitchen sink, so to speak. A scale’s primary purpose is to calculate the weight of ingredients; have you considered, however, how that weight directly translates into cost for your restaurant? It may not seem like much, but adding too much to the plate, or dividing dinner roll dough unevenly could negatively affect your bottom line. Scales help you keep recipes on-track so that you are not unknowingly adding a little extra to each plate.

But where do you start? Between mechanical portion scales, digital scales, hanging scales and more, it might be difficult to figure out which scale makes sense for your restaurant. In this buying guide, we will give you an overview of the kitchen scales on the market today and help you determine if specialty scales like baker’s dough scales or pizza scales are right for you.

A scale, put simply, is an apparatus that calculates the weight of an object. Long before we used scales as a means of tracking our calorie intake, mankind used balance scales in banking and commerce. Nowadays you may find mechanical spring scales are more commonplace than balance scales. Mechanical spring scales work by measuring the force or weight of an object against the force on a spring. Typically a mechanical spring scale is measured with a counter weight that calibrates the scale so that the measured force translates to mass at earth’s gravity. The object that is weighed may either hang from a spring (like a hanging scale) or sit on a pivot and bearing platform.

In a restaurant kitchen, a scale is a helpful tool when a recipe requires exact measurements of ingredients, such as baking a cake or making pizza dough. You might also find your line cooks using a scale to portion out steaks, measure pasta, or weigh a pizza piece by piece to ensure the appropriate amount of product is going to diner’s plates.

Bakers will find their kitchen scale an invaluable piece of equipment. Chefs have long debated a simple cup of flour, knowing full well that depending on the type of flour used and how well it is packed, one cup of flour may translate anywhere from 4 to 6 ounces. Weighing your ingredients, instead of simply measuring them, ensures accurate ratios each and every time.

You have to weigh your options when it comes to picking a digital or mechanical scale. When you look past the charm of a traditional mechanical scale, you still have a very viable piece of equipment that has literally stood the test of time. Still, daily wear and tear takes its toll on a mechanical scale, and you may find yourself needing to replace the spring (or scale) depending on how much you use it.

If you can swallow the cost of the initial investment, a digital scale provides fast, foolproof calculations without question. This helps if you have multiple members of staff weighing product, because you can be confident that items are being portioned out correctly every time. Still, digital scales are not without their challenges too—ever run out of batteries at the most inopportune time? And there is something to be said about food/liquids and electronics—sometimes they just don’t get along.

There are several types of kitchen scales on the market today, and navigating the choices might seem overwhelming. Picking the right scale for your business is dependent on your daily activities: do you receive large batches of inventory in your restaurant? Do you plan on baking bread or creating desserts in-house? Learn more about the different types of kitchen scales and find out which one is best for you.

Baker’s Dough Scale

A baker’s dough scale is designed for baking professionals to measure recipe ingredients for perfect recipes with exact proportions. Those baking dinner rolls will also find a baker’s dough scale an invaluable piece of equipment when it comes time to dividing dough evenly—also be sure to check out our dough dividers which do the hard work for you!

Bench Scale

When a countertop scale can’t do the job, enter the bench scale. Bench scales feature a platform with a digital display on a riser, and are designed to measure heavier weights.

Digital Portion Scale

Nothing saves more time than an easy-to-use digital portion scale that gives you a weight measurement in a snap. Weigh your ingredients quickly and efficiently to execute perfect recipes every time.

Mechanical Portion Scale

A true original, mechanical portion scales provide quick measurements or approximate readouts in a flash.

Hanging Scale

When you need to get the job done, but don’t want to break the bank, opt for a hanging scale. Easy-to-use and easy-to-read, hanging scales are perfect solutions for bakeries, delis and grocery stores.

Pizza Scale

Building a great pizza starts with great ingredients and ends with the proper ratio of ingredients. Be kind to your bottom line by ensuring you aren’t using too much (or too little) when it comes to preparing the perfect pie.

Price Computing Scale

Multitask at the counter with a price computing scale that takes the guesswork out of weighing and pricing a product. Perfect for delis, bakers, and butcher shops, use a price computing scale to tally and total a product on the fly.

Receiving Scale

A scale that measures product at high capacities is crucial for inventory control. Receiving scales are featured in both digital and mechanical models, measuring bulk product has never been easier than with these floor models.

Keg Scale

You can make (or lose) a lot of revenue at the bar, which is why you may want to invest in a liquor scale to help you track how many drinks were sold out of a bottle.

Before you purchase your scale, take into consideration some features that you may or may not need; doing so can save you some money:

  1. Usage

    Do you have a high-volume restaurant where everything needs to be portioned out? Or do you simply need to spot check weights as they come along? Gauging the amount of use you expect from your scale will help you decide between options like: digital versus mechanical, warranty, price, and more.

  2. Capacity

    Seems like common sense, but consider the weight capacity of a scale before you purchase. If you hope to have this scale do double-duty around the restaurant, think about what kinds of things you’ll be weighing.
  3. Automatic Shut Off (digital scales)

    If you and others in your restaurant will be using the scale often, consider a model featuring an automatic shut off. You’ll quickly lose the efficiency a digital scale offers if you’re constantly trying to find a new pair of batteries.
  4. Tare Feature (digital scales)

    When you need to measure multiple items at once or in the same container, a Tare feature comes in handy to reset the displayed weight on the scale back to zero.
  5. Paper Print Outs (mechanical scales)

    Consider whether or not a print out of readings would be helpful, particularly if you receive a lot of inventory, or if you are hoping to calculate price readouts
  6. Air Dashpot (mechanical scales)

    When purchasing a mechanical scale, a model featuring an air dashpot is key. Save crucial minutes when you’re cooking on the line by minimizing the shakiness of the dial so you get a quick, accurate readout every time.
  7. Calibration (mechanical scales)

    You may find yourself needing to calibrate your mechanical scale to regularly ensure proper readings. To calibrate your mechanical scale, you can either use a material where you’re confident in its exact weight, or purchase a Scale Calibration Kit like this one from Edlund. Simply place the weight on your scale and turn the calibration knob until the reading gives the correct weight.
  8. Dishwasher Safe

    If you want a scale that does double duty, you might want to consider a scale that can be quickly sanitized.
  9. Stainless Steel Materials

    Commercial restaurant kitchens are known to be hot and humid, no matter what the outside conditions are. Look for scales made of stainless steel to avoid rust and lengthen its life.
  10. Price

    Scales serve a specific purpose, which is why you might be inclined to purchase a low-cost model. In order to determine if the extra cost is worth it, review your restaurant and ask yourself these questions. Constant usage will result in greater wear and tear of your scale, so you’ll want one that lasts. Consider your options if you need to replace your scale in 6 months, 9 months, or a few years.
  11. Warranty

    If you’re running a high-volume operation, and you expect the scale to be used multiple times a day by multiple people, you may want to consider what warranty options are available. If anything, it will give you some piece of mind so you’re not adding more stress to the plate.

Measuring ingredients like flour, sugar and even pizza dough seem like obvious uses for a kitchen scale. But have you thought of other ways you might utilize a scale in the kitchen? You may be surprised just how versatile this piece of equipment is for your restaurant:

Cured Meats

Interested in curing your own meats? You might find a scale will come in handy when it comes time to measure moisture retention. Tracking how much moisture your meat loses gives you a clear record of how much protein to acquire and how long it will take to achieve a finished product.

Measuring Coffee

Mankind’s love for coffee dates back to 10th century (at least). Our search for the perfect cup of coffee continues, with serious growth in the pour-over coffee sector. Next to water and coffee bean quality, the proper ratio itself is key to a great cup of coffee, particularly at higher elevations. Use your scale to measure coffee grounds to achieve the perfect cup each and every time.

Diet Restrictions

A scale is helpful whether you are looking to shed a few pounds or if you need to follow particular diet restrictions. Know exactly how much protein, potassium, carbohydrates, vegetables and more that you’re consuming when you weigh your ingredients one-by-one.

Check out these great articles to find out more about kitchen scales:

You’ve done the research, now are you ready to buy? Check out our selection of kitchen scales at Tundra Restaurant Supply

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