Everyday Math

Numbers and Math in Everyday Life

Are ratio and proportion important in cooking?

Yes, ratio and proportion—two major mathematical concepts—are important in cooking (as is addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). For example, when a recipe calls for 1 cup of flour and 2 eggs, the relationship between these two quantities is called a ratio. In this case, the relationship of cups of flour to eggs is 1 to 2, or ½, or 1:2. Any change in this ratio and the recipe’s result will not be the same—and the food might not be edible.

Another way of looking at cooking and mathematics is when changing the amount of ingredients in a recipe. For example, when a recipe calls for a certain amount of each ingredient, and the cook wants to make half a recipe, everything in the list is divided in half. Two cups of sugar becomes one cup, ½ teaspoon of vanilla becomes ¼ teaspoon, and so on. The same logic applies if the cook wants to double the recipe, but in this case everything is multiplied by two. Two cups of sugar becomes 4 cups; ½ teaspoon of vanilla becomes 1 teaspoon; and so on.


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