Published November 1, 2007. From Cook's Illustrated.
Portion scoops—essentially ice-cream dippers made in specific sizes—should be easy to squeeze with either hand.
Portion scoops—essentially ice-cream dippers made in specific sizes—are popular in the hospitality industry for their ability to easily portion large quantities of foods such as cookie dough, tuna salad, or mashed potatoes. In the test kitchen, we find them very useful for neatly and evenly measuring batter-based baked goods like our Drop Biscuits. A portion scoop enables us to get pieces that are the same size, so they’ll all bake evenly. This produces professional results.
But when you choose a portion scoop, you need the right size. Scoop numbers stamped on the handle or spring-loaded trigger correspond to the number of level scoops it takes to equal 1 quart (32 fluid ounces; a fluid ounce is a unit of volume equal to 2 tablespoons). The #16 scoop we use for our Best Drop Biscuits, for example, equals 2 fluid ounces; the #8 scoop equals 4 fluid ounces. Handle colors often correspond to the numbers as well, but they vary from brand to brand. The test kitchen's preferred scoop is the Fantes #16 Stainless Steel Ice Cream Scoop ($11.99), an industrial-type model that's easy to squeeze with either hand.