chapter 12 nutriton label pictureSometimes… well actually most of the time- I get calls from start ups asking me how they can scale up their recipe to industrial size. The first thing I always ask —is your formula in percentages because that’s what manufacturers need to see it in.

Crickets chirping in the distance— silence on the line…

Client usually says  “I measure my liquids with a measuring cup and I use teaspoons to weight out my salt and sugar- is that ok??”

I answer NO!! A recipe and a formula are not really the same thing (although they are often used interchangeably) – a recipe is what you make in your house, and record your amounts in cups, tablespoons and pinches. A formula is how a professional specialty food manufacturer will document your information and is based on pounds, kilograms, grams and other weight measurements. These weights are then converted to percentages so any amount or batch size can be made on those confirmed percentages.

This means that if you have 2 cups of water in your recipe you have to weigh it out—and 2 cups of honey will not weigh the same amount as that water, and a cup of corn syrup will also have a different weight. This is because all these ingredients have different densities. The density of water is 1 gram per 1 ml (volume) but the density of honey is about 1.4 gram per 1 ml (volume) and different types of honey even have different densities!

Here is a sample of a simple conversion of a homemade recipe to a professional industrial formulation

Typical Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Recipe Converted to Weights (Approximate)
2-1/4 cups All Purpose Baking Flour 320 grams
1-teaspoon baking soda 4.8 grams
1-teaspoon salt 6 grams
1 cup (2 sticks butter) 227 grams
¾ cup granulated sugar 151 grams
¾ cup packed brown sugar 165 grams
1teaspoon vanilla extract 4 grams
2 large eggs 97 grams
2 cups chocolate chips 303 grams
1 cup chopped walnuts 122 grams

Final Formula in Percentages

Ingredient Recipe in Grams Percentage
Flour 320 22.86%
Baking Soda 4.8 0.34%
Salt 227 0.43%
Butter 6 16.22%
Sugar 151 10.79%
Packed Brown Sugar 165 11.79%
Vanilla 4 0.29%
Eggs 97 6.93%
Chocolate Chips 303 21.65%
Walnuts 122 8.72%
Total Weight 1399.8 100.00%

 Its very simple math- you just need to keep in mind that in food science manufacturing world, there is no such things as a cup, spoonful, pinch or feather dusting— everything has to be in weight only!

 For more useful start up food company technical information- check out my book—- 

About rachel zemser

2 Responses to “How To Convert a RECIPE to a Manufacturer Approved FORMULA”

  1. Intrepid Culinologist

    converting cups and spoonfuls to percentages is indeed the first step– adjusting those percentages to account for water loss, batching procedures and scale ups is step two! It is true that a small 500 gram batch at home may not act the same way when you are blending $2,000 lbs in a large mixing tank– always do pilot tests and mini batches as in between steps before going into full on production!!!!!

  2. levberlin

    And small-batch recipe ingredients don’t always scale linearly for large scale production versions, right? Tell us more about that!

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