Why You Want to Be Using a Formula Not a Recipe
Updated: Apr 3, 2019
I work with food manufacturing clients of various sizes. They come to me for help with all aspects of their food business. Whether they are needing help with scaling up, product development consultation or are needing FDA compliant label information, such as nutrition analysis, the conversation always starts with discussing formulas vs recipes.
When we start to talk about their "formula" it becomes very clear that what we really are talking about is a "recipe". I ask, “is your formula in percentages?”, the silence on the other side of the phone tells me the answer. NO.
Although a recipe and a formula are similar and often used interchangeably there is a big difference between the two.
What’s the difference between a formula and a recipe?
A recipe is where all good products start. In your kitchen you use measuring cup, tablespoons, I have even some clients refer to a certain measurement as 2 blue scoops, or a yogurt container full!
A formula is basically your recipe in exact weights. These weights are then converted into percentages to make sure you have the exact amount of each ingredients every time you or your co-packer manufacture your product. It is often based on pounds, grams or other weight measurements
Why is this important?
So, what does this mean? This means that if you have 2 cups of vinegar in your recipe, you must weigh it out. 2 cups of other liquids (water, fruit juice, corn syrup, honey etc.) might not necessarily weigh the same weight as your vinegar. The way an individual will measure out flour may be different than another. Is it a heaping cup or leveled cup? Is the flour sifted first or not? All these variations add up to inconsistent quality in your finished product.
How to Go from Recipe to Formula in Two Easy Steps
Weigh out each ingredient in your recipe, in smaller batches, it is helpful to do this with a gram scale, in larger amounts ingredients can be measured in ounces or pounds
Peanuts 3 cups = 426 grams
Raisins 3 cups = 510 grams
Candy Coated Pieces 3 cups = 681 gram
You can see that each one of these measurements are 3 cups, but each ingredient is different in weight
Next you want to convert your recipe in grams to a percentage.
1.) Add all ingredient weights for a total ingredient weight
2.) Divide the ingredient weight by the total ingredient weight
3.) Multiply this number by 100 = ingredient percentage
Peanuts 426 grams – 26.34%
Raisins 510 grams- 31.54%
Candy Coated Pieces = 681 gram -42.11%
Total Batch Weight = 1617 grams =100%
Benefits of Using Weights instead of Measures
Ease in Scale-ability
More Accurate Label Information When you weigh out your ingredients instead of measuring them your finished product quality is going to be much more consistent. It doesn’t matter who is doing the weighing, it will always be the same. Weighing out your ingredients gives you better control over your product cost. Making it much easier to see your true costs of a batch of product. Converting your recipes to percentages allows you greater flexibility in being able to scale your batch up or down as needed. And lastly your nutrition facts and other label information will be more accurate and represent the now reproduce-able product each and every time.
Now you know what the difference is between a recipe and a formula and how it can greatly benefit your company, go get that scale out, start weighing those ingredients and never look back!