How Much is a Bushel and a Peck?
I’m not gonna lie to you – there’s something about buying a bushel of apples that just speaks to me. Doesn’t it just hark back to simpler times? Makes me think of hours in the kitchen, canning with grandma!
Maybe like me, you’ve spotted a bushel of apples or other produce for sale at the farmer’s market. Or perhaps a bushel basket at the craft store. And I’m guessing you’ve also thought, what the heck is a bushel? Well, wonder no longer my friends!
Let’s answer that very question – how much is a bushel? And how much is a peck?
What Is a Bushel?
The bushel is a unit of capacity with a long and storied history. In the UK, a bushel can refer to either a liquid or dry measurement. But here in the US, it’s strictly a dry measure – more on that later.
The US bushel comes from the Winchester bushel, a standard that started in the 15th century. The UK went their own way and changed their bushel to a different measurement. We, on the other hand, stuck with an if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it philosophy.
For that reason, the Winchester bushel lives on in the modern US bushel today!
Bushel vs Peck
We can’t talk about bushels without talking about pecks. Whyever not I hear you ask?
Because a peck is a quarter of a bushel. In some parts of the country, it’s still common to buy fruit and vegetables for canning in pecks and bushels.
Knowing your pecks from your bushels can stop you from ending up with way too much produce for your needs…. or having an awkward encounter with a farmer’s market stallholder.
How Much Is a Bushel?
In terms of dry products, a bushel equals eight gallons. So unless you’re buying a bushel of ping pong balls, it’s probably going to be a little heavy.
In practical terms, 8 gallons means 32 quarts. 32 quarts is the same as 64 pints. Hopefully, these measurements are giving you a mental image of how big a bushel is.
Remember, here in the US, a bushel is strictly a dry measure. So you can buy all the apples, corn, and sweet potatoes you like by the bushel. But milk? Forget it.
How Much Bushels of Produce Weigh
Volumetric measurements always get a little tricky. For a start, you really need to have a receptacle of the particular size to hand to measure a bushel’s worth of anything.
Thankfully, the US government has established standards for this. That means that there is a standard weight for a bushel of all kinds of produce. That makes it much easier, and more predictable for shoppers and merchants alike.
Let’s get into a few of those standard weights:
- A bushel of apples weighs 40lbs
- A bushel of wheat weighs 60lbs
- A bushel of cucumbers weighs 55lb
The bushel to kg (approximate) ratio for these items would be:
- A bushel of apples weighs 18kg
- A bushel of wheat weighs 27kg
- A bushel of cucumbers weighs 25kg
These weights make sense, given how much smaller wheat kernels are. You can pack a lot more into the same space than you can apples! On the other hand, something leafy like spinach weighs light, at just 25lb.
So the answer to the question, how much is a bushel in pounds? It depends on what you’re measuring. Thankfully, the government standard measures give you a reliable guide.
These figures have probably given you an even better idea of just how big a bushel is. Buy yourself a bushel of apples, and you’ve got either a lot of work or a lot of gifting to do.
However, buying by the bushel is perfect if you’ve decided to get down to some serious canning.
What to Do with a Bushel of Produce
Now you know the answer to how much is a bushel, you can get planning how many you need. Let’s think about a pickling project.
I love dill pickles. Those spears of cucumber pack so neatly into cans. Give them that salty, spicy bath and they’re good with almost anything for the rest of the year.
If you picked up a bushel of cucumbers, that would come to 55lb. We recommend Kirby cucumbers – stay away from English cucumbers for this process. They won’t retain their bite as well as Kirby cucumbers will.
A regular recipe calls for 3/4 a pound of pickles per pint-sized Mason jar. A quick bit of math tells you that a bushel will make 73 jars! That’s enough to keep anyone in pickles for a long time.
Our suggestion? Team up with a few buddies and split the bushel.
Once you have your Mason jars sterilized and ready, simply trim the cucumbers. Cut them into jar-sized spears, or leave them whole if you prefer.
Prepare a brine of apple cider vinegar, water, pickling salt, and dill seeds. Garlic cloves are an optional but delectable addition. Add the spices, boil the pickling liquor and add it to your jars of cucumbers.
Follow regular canning procedures to keep them for longer. If not, refrigerate them once cool and consume them within a few weeks. Properly canned pickles can keep for over a year! Tomato salsa for canning is another great idea for using a bushel of tomatoes in the summer.
Bushels of Possibilities
Does a bushel sound like too much for your family? How about a peck?
It’s all the fun, but only a quarter of the size. That may be a more manageable way to use up all that delicious farmstand produce.
Make the Most of Local Produce
Buying by the bushel might sound old-fashioned. But now you’re ready for your next farmer’s market trip.
Don’t be caught out by buying too much! Remember that you can always ask for a peck instead, and walk away with a more manageable amount.
Head on over to our Recipes section for tons of ideas for meals the whole family will devour!