Increasing Recipe Yield

Joined May 2, 2003
I just wanted to share this experience for those who have also gone through this before when dramatically increasing a recipe's yield.

I just completed a job where I made appx 100 take-home servings of fresh salsa, each container holding about 16 oz. While I have made this salsa in big batches in the past, this was the first time I had to make this much at one time. I scheduled everything as best as I could, and I did the appropriate math to increase my original recipe, took into account the as-purchased quantity vs. edible portion quantities, etc.

And yet, despite all the preparation on paper, the recipe seemed to take its own form while I was preparing it. I needed less of this item, and a bit more of that. And while I knew to expect shifts in ingredient quantities when upping my recipe yield, I was still amazed at how much the numbers could shift. I expect seasonings and spices to shift dramatically, but I didn't know previously how much the main ingredients could shift too. It all worked out, and the flavor turned out the same as my original recipe. But again, while it all worked out, I am impressed by the changes a recipe can go through when increasing yield, especially at such high portions. I kept notes of everything so hopefully the next time I do this recipe in this amount, I will have more accurate starting numbers.
Joined Jul 18, 2002
developing accurate recipes that scale is definitely a challenge - and one that caterers face all the time.

was wondering what method you used to measure and keep notes.

I have heard for example that if one is trying to quantify a recipe from a cook who does not measure, the method suggested is to weigh all ingredients before starting, let the intuitive cook do their thing (and try to video tape that as well for methodology) and then weigh all the ingredients at the end.

Then go back and write down what was used - in weights (rather than cups, oz, liters and/or grams) and the step by step procedure.

I suppose if you were vending the product and hope to sell it on a continual basis, the accuracy of the recipe is quite important - consistency is key in most retail situations.

Another observation is that many catering chefs work on concepts and ratios rather than exact recipes 

and of course using produce and produçts that are natural means that one batch of tomatoes may be sweeter, riper, or more solid than the next so adjustments are always needed.

So would love to hear more about what your methodology was and what you discovered along the way.

And like Julie am curious as to where and why you are selling the salsa.

PS  how did you make adjustments, was it based on your taste recollections?
Joined May 2, 2003
Thanks for the responses!

The salsa was for a Cinco de Mayo fundraiser for a local scouting troop in Southern California.  It is a small troop, so I was really surprised by how many orders they took in. 

For my original recipe measurements, I did them by weight.  I took my original recipe (which makes 1.5 portions), then followed the recommended procedure by the CIA in Professional Chef.  This means determining the Recipe Conversion Factor (RCF), multiplying the recipe weights, determining the As Purchased Quantity (APQ) vs. the Edible Portion Quantity (EPQ), determining Yield Percentages, etc. 

For the main ingredients, I also use an approximate ratio that works rather well by weight or volume (1.5:1 tomatoes/onions.)  My increased recipe weights were right in the ballpark with this ratio, so I knew I was at least on the right track. 

So when preparing the ingredients, I prepared based on weight.  But then, when actually mixing the ingredients together, I adjusted based on color then adjusted seasonings by taste.  As we started adding things together, I could tell right away that if I stuck to the recipe by weight, the tomatoes would have been overwhelmed by the onions.  So I held back on the onions, and sure enough, it turned out correctly. 

A few more thoughts on the varying results:  I think the biggest factor or variable that likely had the biggest impact on the final recipe was the yield percentage of the tomatoes.  My experience has been that some produce items can vary greatly depending on the crates you receive.  This was confirmed in this latest batch as the tests I did to determine yield percentages of seeded Roma tomatoes varied greatly between high-60’s to mid-80’s%.  I was surprised by the large difference in results.  Granted, it was the smaller Romas that gave me the lowest percentages—really seedy when small, apparently, and/or less dense meat? 

Anyways, I basically split the difference in percentages and ended up close-enough with the amount of tomatoes that I needed by weight by using medium Romas.  But I do wonder whether for certain recipes, if straight volume wouldn’t have been a more consistent measuring method.  This salsa is less-saucy, just a step or two beyond a pico de gallo, which made me think weight would have been the way to go.  But now I wonder whether busting out tomatoes by quarts is the way to go? 

Hopefully I’ll get another order for this recipe and can re-examine the method.  Plus it really was tasty and I am ready for more!  =)
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