dishers

See also: scoops. The general public usually refers to these tools as “scoops,” but in the food service industry they are called “dishers.” A scoop lacks the moving blade that separates the food from the bowl. “Disher” is an old word (e.g., see the 1897 patent title below), though it is not found in this sense in the Oxford English Dictionary.

photograph of an ice cream disher

©iStockphoto.com/DNY59

Dishers are an important tool in portion control.

In the United States, the sizing system for dishers is based on the number of portions that can be scooped from a U.S. liquid quart. The table below is based on this relationship. In practice, however, manufacturers’ don’t size dishers very accurately (see Kit Chen's blog). As an example, Vollrath, a highly-regarded manufacturer, makes dishers in two styles, one with squeeze handles and the other operated with the thumb. The capacity of the #40 thumb style model is given as “¾ [oz] (22.2 [mL])”; the capacity of the #40 squeeze handle model is given as “7/8 [oz] (25.9 [mL])”.

The table below lists only those sizes we know to be commercially available, and omits a number of values inconsistent with the preciseness possible with these tools.

Nominal Capacities of Dishers
Disher
size
Color
code
portion in Comments
cups U.S.
tablespoons
teaspoons U.S. fluid
 ounces
milliliters
6 white 2/3 10 2/3 5 1/3 158  
8 gray ½ 8 4 118 mashed potatoes; ice cream
10 ivory 2/5 6.4 19.2 3.2 95  
12 green 1/3 5 1/3 16 2 2/3 79 ice cream
16 blue ¼ 4 12 2 59  
20 yellow 0.2 3.2 9.6 1.6 47  
24 red 1/6 2 2/3 8 1 1/3 39  
30 black 0.13 2.1 6.4 1.07 32  
40 purple 1/10 1.6 4.8 0.8 24  
50 rust 1 ¼ 3.9 0.64 19  
60 pink 3.2 0.53 16
70 plum 0.46 14  
100 orange 2 0.32 9  

patent drawings of Cralle's disher

The gear-driven disher was invented by Alfred L. Cralle, an African-American businessman. He patented it in 1897

1. A. L. Cralle.
Ice Cream Mold and Disher.
U.S. Patent No. 576,395.
Feb. 2, 1897.

Resources

In his blog at http://bowlofplenty.blogspot.com/2009/08/dishers-aka-ice-cream-scoops.html, Kit Chen shows that, according to the manufacturers' own specifications, some makers’ scoops don’t meet the number-in-a-quart rule. He has calculated dishers’ capacities from the manufacturers’ figures for the bowl’s diameter. Of course, he assumes the manufacturer hasn’t rounded off the diameter for publication, and that the bowl is spherical. It would be interesting to find some of the worst offenders he identifies and actually measure their capacity with water from a graduated cylinder.

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