International differences: units and ingredients

SwedishFood.com aims to help English speakers around the world who are interested in Swedish food by providing reliable, easy-to-follow recipes as well as some background information about Swedish food.

The problem

We may all speak English, but we use different units and sometimes we use different names for ingredients.

Choosing units for recipes

Swedes virtually only ever use electric ovens and measure temperatures in °C and they measure ingredients in grammes and decilitres. However, we thought it was important to use units that are more familiar to readers so we have adopted two sets of units:

- Modern British units, shown first,
- 'American' units, shown afterwards in brackets.

Where possible we recommend using the British units as all recipes on this site are tested using the British units and it is not always possible to find a convenient conversion.

Alternative names are given in brackets

Where we know a different word is used for an ingredient in another part of the world then we put the British word first and then the alternative word in brackets afterwards. For instance, what we in the UK call Rice Krispies are known as Rice Bubbles in Australia (they are used in one our recipes for a Midsummer Cake). Note: we don't bother if there is only a minor spelling difference.

We don't know what we don't know!

We don't know what we don't know! If you find any of our recipes use ingredients that have another English name where you live please let us know so that we can add the alternative name to the recipe to make it easier for other readers.

Our use of italics

We normally put Swedish names in italics after the title of a recipe as many readers are curious to know the Swedish name.

Pronunciation

Google-translate-570

If you are curious to know how a word is pronounced in Swedish we recommend using the audio facility on a translation machine such as Google. When you paste Swedish words into the box a loudspeaker icon will appear, circled in red above. Click on the icon and you can hear the words pronounced. Although not perfect, we think it is better than a written pronunciation guide.

Ovens and temperatures

A lot of British cooks use gas or fan ovens so in the UK three sets of temperatures are normally provided in recipes. We are providing four sets because many of our readers measure temperatures in °F. To help readers we have produced a full conversion chart below for reference.

Conventional Electric °CConventional  Electric °FGasFan °C*
110°C 225°F ¼ 100°C
130°C 250°F ½ 120°C
140°C 275°F 1 130°C
150°C 300°F 2 140°C
170°C 325°F 3 150°C
180°C 350°F 4 160°C
190°C 375°F 5 160°C
200°C 400°F 6 170°C
220°C 425°F 7 180°C
230°C 450°F 8 190°C
250°C 475°F 9 200°C

 *For fan ovens you should check the instruction manual that came with your oven.

Weights and volumes

In Britain most ingredients are measured by weight and not volume. Where appropriate we try to give both.

In the case of bread and cake recipes we recommend weighing the ingredients in grammes if you can as it is sometimes hard to determine an equivalent volume.

Some other practical conversions are given below:

1 tsp = 5 ml

1 tbsp = 15 ml

1 cup = 236 ml

1 pint = 550 ml

1 oz = 28 g

8 oz = 225 g

1 lb = 450 g

1" = 2.5 cm

Creams

In the UK there are four main types of cream, whereas in America there are three main types. The table below shows the main differences.

Butterfat content British name American name
10.5 -18% Not usually sold but can be made by mixing whole milk and cream Half and half cream
18 - 20% Single cream Single cream but sometimes called light cream
30% Not usually sold Whipping cream
30-40% Whipping cream Heavy cream (sometimes also called heavy whipping cream)
48% Double cream Not usually sold
55 - 60% Clotted cream Devonshire cream


In most recipes it won't matter if you substitute a different cream with a similar fat content.  For example, you can easily substitute heavy cream for double cream. However, anything with less than 30% fat content is hard to whip.

Flours

Unless stated otherwise, recipes in the UK that refer to flour normally mean plain (all-purpose) wheat flour. This is a fairly soft flour, suitable for making cakes and biscuits. However, it is normally too soft for bread making. As a result we normally use imported Canadian or Russian flour for bread making and this is sold as strong flour, although occasionally we grow a Canadian variety of wheat in the UK specially for bread making. In American you can use all-purpose flour in place of strong flour, although it is probably better to use bread flour.

Swedes use a wide range of flours with most breads containing at least some rye flour.  The availability of rye flour is improving, but you may need to go to a health food store to buy rye flour or you can buy it online.

Potato and cornflour

What we call potato flour in the UK is called potato starch in the America. Similarly what we call cornflour in the UK is called cornstarch in America.

Sugars

Caster sugar

In the UK there are two types of granulated white sugar that are readily available: granulated and a finer granulated sugar called caster sugar, often called superfine sugar in America.  In most recipes you can substitute granulated sugar for caster sugar.

Confectioner's/Icing sugar

Confectioners' sugar or powdered sugar are American terms.  In the UK confectioners' sugar is called icing sugar. (For more information about sugars for Swedish food please click here.)

Yeast

Doves-farm-quick-yeast-280

Despite the claims in some cookery books, fresh yeast is not readily available in many parts of the UK. Instead supermarkets and delicatessens tend to stock dried yeast.  This comes in two forms but our recipes normally use fast-action, sometimes called 'Easy bake' yeast or 'quick yeast'. As that is the type of yeast that most people in the UK can buy easily it is the only type used on this site.  (For more information about yeast for Swedish food please click here.)

Availability of ingredients

Where we know that ingredients are hard to obtain in the UK or in America we will try and suggest alternatives. If you have any suggestions to help please do not hesitate to let us know.

Different words

Where we know that Brits and Americans and/or Australians use different words for the same thing we will try to put the British word first and then the alternative name in brackets afterwards.  The main differences are:

British word American or Australian word
Aubergine Egg plant
Beetroot Beet
Bicarbonate of soda Baking soda
Biscuit Cookie
Broad beans Lima beans
Caster sugar Granulated sugar
Chips Fries
Cling film Food wrap or cling wrap
Cornflour Cornstarch
Courgette Zucchini
Crisps Chips
Dark chocolate Bittersweet chocolate
Desiccated coconut Dry unsweetened shredded
Greaseproof paper Waxed paper
Grill Broil
Hare Jackrabbit
Icing sugar Confectioners' sugar
Jacket Potato Baked potato
Kipper Smoked herring
Mature cheese Sharp cheese or aged
Minced Ground
Muslin cloth Cheesecloth
Prawns Shrimps
Purée Paste
Rashers bacon Strips bacon
Rice Krispies Rice Bubbles
Scrape potatoes Scrub potatoes
Starter Appetiser
Streaky bacon Fatty bacon
Strong flour Bread flour
Swedes Rutabagas
Sweet Candy
Treacle Molasses
Unsalted butter Sweet butter
Vanilla pod Vanilla bean

Feedback

As always, if you think there is any other differences which we need to clear up please email us.

John Duxbury

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John Duxbury
Editor and Founder