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Earthenware Cookware – Was Grandmum Right About Them?

Earthenware Cookware
Cookware Advice

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I've always been fascinated by earthenware. Something seems magical about the way steam or smoke comes out of an earthenware  when cooking, stewing or boiling. This cookware also feels innately humble and pure.

But Wait! It has a practical side too!

Clay cookware is also a relatively safe cookware choice. In fact, if the taste, nutrition value of a meal and diet quality has been bothering you, then definitely try earthenware. 

By the way, if you have safety concerns with cookware you can read what I have written about this in an earlier post. Specifically the reaction from certain cookware to particular foods and your options in dealing with that.

Okay! Lets get going...

BASICS OF EARTHENWARE COOKWARE

WHAT IS AN EARTHENWARE COOKWARE

  1. These are usually made from non-local impure, secondary clay that contains rock and sand particles along with other impurities.
  2. Earthenware pots are fired at temperatures lower than stoneware or porcelain and are not advisable for stove usage.
  3. They require the glazing to be waterproof as they are soft and porous.
Earthenware cookware for

Earthenware Cookware

ATTRIBUTES & TYPES

Earthenwares, can either be glazed, partially glazed, or unglazed, and is sometimes called redware or terracotta. . When earthenwares are used either on the stove top or in the oven, delicacy or care is expected because quick changes of temperature may cause the clay to crack. If you have to then keep a heat diffuser handy as a buffer when cooking with earthenware pots on an electric or ceramic stove. 

On the other hand, unglazed earthenware pots, especially those that are made from micaceous clay, must be seasoned before you use them based on the manufacturers directions.

With glazed and partially glazed earthenware pots just soak them once before using. Glazed pots are usually dishwasher safe, but porous unglazed pots must be washed by hand to prevent absorption of detergent.

SPANISH CAZUELA -

SPANISH CAZUELLA

A Spanish cazuela is a round earthenware vessel that is glazed completely except on its bottom. A cazuela is usually available in a variety of sizes. However, a majority of recipes require a 10-, 11- or 12-inch pot and should be most useful.

Cazuelas are quite sturdy and can withstand different types of mediterranian skillets and they can also be used both in the oven and on top of the stove.

FLAMEWARE CASSEROLE - 

If you are looking to slow-cooked dishes such as soups, daubes, stews, beans on top of the stove or in the oven, you should consider having a deeper earthenware or flameware casserole

Gentle and even cooking will preserve the flavors and will bind beautifully. Food tends to burn less and cleaning is easier. If you find this interesting, I recommend you also evaluate those from North America, France, Italy, Spain, Egypt, Turkey, Colombia and Chile.

MICACEOUS CLAY BASED - 

These cooking pots are liked for their glittery surface and are left unglazed. These pots make fantastic clay cooking vessels that can both stand up to and retains direct heat. They can prove useful especially for cooking slow-simmered soups, sauces, vegetables, beans and stews. They come in the form of skillets, baking pans and casseroles. 

TAGINES - 

TAGINES EARTHENWARE CLAY COOKWARE

Tagines are a Moroccon, North African genius cookware. Tagines cook food beautifully, and they are generally inexpensive. The high conical or dome-shaped cover, that fits into the shallow base, behaves as a kind of closed chimney.

Since the heat on a stove top comes from below, the top of the cover remains cooler than the rest of the pot, and this causes steam to condense and drip back onto the stew, preventing the food from drying out.

SO! What Are The Benefits?

 Inexpensive and Versatile 

  1. Earthenware cookware tends to be low cost than other cookware and is available in different shapes and sizes. And by the way they can be conveniently ordered online.
  2. Wondering how you cook in this cookware?Grill, brown, braise, fry, cook hot and cold food items. Absolutely!
  3. Eliminate the need for adding extra fats, flavorings, liquids due to the steam circulating within the earthenware, during the cook, which provides plenty of moisture.
Evaluating Earthenware Cookware

Evaluating Earthenware Cookware

Flavor and Health In Earthenware

Flavor and Health In Earthenware

Good Heat Resistance of Earthenware

Good Heat Resistance of Earthenware


GOOD RESISTANCE TO HEAT [5 REASONS]

  1. ​Clay pots are quite heat resistant but not as heat resistant as copper or iron vessels.
  2. The heat resistance of clay pots is increased by firing to a certain point and glazed to increase the heat resistance.
  3. Daily meals can be cooked on a gas burner, especially rice, lentils, vegetables.
  4. You can even get microwave safe ceramic and earthenware utensils to go along with the pots.
  5. Some of the best Asian foods are slow cooked in an earthen vessel to get a specific earthy, smoked flavor.

RETENTION OF FLAVOR [3 REASONS]

  1. The porous nature of clay pots helps it retain the moisture and heat within the clay pot.
  2. This lets the dish cook very well capturing the flavor within it.
  3. You can expect the cooked food to be aromatic and tasty when cooked right.

ATTRACTIVENESS

  1. Earthenware is available in multiple shapes and sizes and unique designs.
  2. In many Asian cultures water is stored in earthen pots and this keeps the water cool and enhances its sweetness.
  3. Earthenwares add a touch of ethnic to the kitchen.

HEALTH AND WELLNESS [2 ASPECTS]

  1. Clay pot cooking tends to infuse foods with calcium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, sulphur, nutritional elements etc. These benefit the health. 
  2. These also tend to be alkaline in nature which means they mix well with acidic food to balance out the PH level of what is being cooked.

GREAT FOR MAKING MILK BASED RECIPES

  1. Middle Eastern, South Asian, Chinese, East Asian cultures have been making sweetened milk based recipes for centuries using an earthen pot.
  2. The final product is quite tasty when mixed with natural flavors and spices (cardamom, bay leaves, cinnamon, five spices). It also tends to have an earthy flavor.

Milk Based Recipe in Earthenware

5 DISADVANTAGES OF EARTHENWARE COOKWARE

  1. Check for product labeling that says "Safe For Food Use".
  2. Opt for lead-free labeled products.
  3. Highly decorated or handcrafted clay pots made by non-regulated sellers could pose a cooking risk.
  4. The FDA has raised concerns about the lead levels in pottery products made outside the US due to regulatory and quality aspects.
  5. So, from a cooking perspective, be careful when picking one on a trip outside or ordering online.​

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