What is a bunch?


The recipe called for a bunch of parsley. What exactly is a bunch? Did you know that until the 20th century most cookbooks did not list “standard” measurements such as cup, tablespoon or ounces! It seems that many of the “old” measurement terms still abound in our lexicon of cooking terminology.

I am consciously trying not to be swayed by measurements when cooking but to understand the relationship between the ingredients. Many of my recipes copied onto my note cards simply contain the suggested ingredients and notes about appropriate temperature and timing. For your see, the great cooks, those who invented the recipes are those who cook by feel and intuition – just as our great grandmothers did!

Let us think about the terms, pinch, dash, jigger and bunch. I always enjoy looking at my Food Lovers Companion (by Sharon Tyler Herbst) and consider it one of the best kitchen guides available.

They define a pinch as about 1/16 teaspoon or less. I bet that if you took a pinch of salt and measured it you would be very close. A dash usually refers to liquid measurements – a few drops – but we also talk about a dash of pepper or other seasoning. For me a dash is a little more than a pinch about 1/8 teaspoon. Now a jigger (or a pony) is about three tablespoons, about 1 1/2 ounce of a liquid. What you hope the bar tender is really putting into your mixed drink glass even though it does not look like it!

Finally, what is a bunch? A bunch is really, whatever you decide it is to be! You see, the taste of the food is up to you and you are responsible for the outcome. Let your intuition take over, taste the recipe in your mind, look at that parsley, cilantro, or spinach, and go for it. After all, you are the cook and the only way to learn about the interactions of ingredients is to take a jigger of confidence, a pinch of knowledge and a dash of inspiration as you prepare food for that next bunch of folks!