Earthen Cookware

A TO Z OF EARTHEN COOKWARE- A COMPLETE GUIDE

Earthen Cookware- is one of the best cookware from medieval times, and is still the best to date when it comes to taste or the nutrition that it provides. If you will read through, especially the process through which the food is cooked, you will definitely want to have one for yourself.

What is Clay?

“Clay is a part of alkaline soil that can be molded into any desired shape, with the help of water. Ancient people used this method to make utensils and other types of items, which they used for household purposes in different ways.

Alkaline
There is a range between “Acidic and Alkaline” in which all the foods and drinks are categorized. For example “Lemon is categorized as Acidic and Cucumber is categorized as Alkaline. CLAY OR EARTHENWARE COMES UNDER THE CATEGORY OF “ALKALINE”.

features of earthen cookware

  • Completely Organic:

    It’s a natural way of cooking which sidelines the bacteria of the food cooked in it.

  • The Cooking Process retains back the nutrients :

    Clay pots are porous in nature, hence they soak moisture while the food is being prepared and then release it back.

    This circulation helps the food to cook within its own juices retaining back all the vitamins and nutrients present in it,. making a healthier and tastier meal.

  • Cooking Time is Slow:

    The food is cooked on medium to low heat, hence it takes more time to cook , as compared to other vessels. But gradually, the more you use the vessel, the faster it will start cooking the food.

  • Wooden Spatulas go best with Earthen Cookware:

    Metal ones can hamper or scrape off the mud from the vessel.

  • The Bottom becomes black:

    Regular usage, turns the bottom of the pan black. It’s a completely natural process and does not affect the functioning of the vessel in any way.

    Moreover, it gives you a guarantee that the product is “100% organic”.  
    (All organic earthenware products turn black when they come in contact with heat, as a result of the normal oxidation process)

         AVOID:

  • Avoid “Dry Saute” or “Saute In Oil”-until and unless the vessel is fully seasoned.

    Even after the vessel is fully seasoned, you should saute only for a few minutes, that too with the lid on, as the earthen cookware sautes food much faster as compared to the other cookware. 

  • Avoid the change of Extreme Temperatures of the vessel:

    Do not take the vessel out of the fridge and put it directly on the stove top for heating or vice-versa. Let it cool down a bit at room temperature and then reheat the food.

    *The above tip is applicable for almost all kinds of cookware

ADVANTAGES OF EARTHEN COOKWARE

  • Usage of Less Oil and Fat

    Since the Earthenware has the tendency to circulate steam throughout the cooking procedure, it provides enough moisture for cooking, and hence, the requirement for oil for cooking, comes to a bare minimum.

  • Reduction on acidly level of the Victuals

    As mentioned above, Clay is alkaline in nature, hence while cooking food, the PH balance of the food is neutralized and thus it serves as a natural detox.

  • Health benefits with all possible nutrients available

    You will be delighted to know that since the clay is made of “earth”, it has approximately every nutrient (vitamins and minerals) that a human body needs.

    You are in for a double benefit, because you will be retaining back all the nutrients of the food and further the vessel, adds up to the nutrient factor because of its making. 

  • Tastier Food

    No cooking utensil will give you a better taste than that of earthen cookware. It’s because of the slow cooking process and its ability to retain back nutrients of the food, that adds to the flavors of your cooked meals.

  • The warmth of the food stays for long

    As a normal practice, we transfer our well-made dishes, to a casserole so that it remains warm for a longer period of time.

    With the earthen cookware, you do not need to do that, as it retains back the warmth for a much longer time. Plus, even if you reheat the food, the nutrients of the food are very well taken care of, by the earthenware.

  • Earthenware Lasts Long

    If you follow the procedure of seasoning your vessel properly and cook food on a medium to low flame, you will definitely have a very durable and long-lasting pot for yourself.

  • Perfect one for Non-Vegetarians as well

    Meat when cooked on a slow flame in an earthen pot, delivers the best taste. This is because of the  “circulation of steam” inside a vessel that turns the meat moist, tender and juicy. You can’t get enough of the flavors it has to offer.

    Be ready for a finger-licking meal.

  • Clay Containers- Perfect for Storing Water

    Clay is not much affected by heat and has minute holes within, which help in evaporation. Hence the drinking water when kept inside these containers become naturally cool, which is bliss to drink.

    Also, its natural properties support the proper functioning of the heart and are perfect for sensitive throats.

dis-ADVANTAGES OF EARTHEN COOKWARE

  • Slow Cooking

    As clay is resistant to heat, the cooking process in these vessels is comparatively slow than other cookware made with other materials.

  • Seasoning the vessel is a Must

    The pots tend to crack if they are not seasoned properly. We need to take care, in the initial stages of seasoning the vessel, to make it future-ready .

    ALWAYS COOK THE FOOD ON MEDIUM FLAME, EVEN AFTER YOUR VESSELS ARE FULLY SEASONED”.

  • Leaching of Previous cooked meals

    The particles of the previously cooked food can merge with the next meal you cook in the vessel. It is because of the porous nature of clay and the microscopic holes that an earthenware contains. 

    Hence, you should keep different vessels for gravies, curd, and rice.

    Further, if there are strict vegetarians in the house, then the non-veg and veg utensil should definitely be separated.

  • Extreme Temperature Changes can harm the Vessel

    Again, as mentioned above, we should avoid the vessel from extreme temperature changes, as the vessel can crack, hence the temperature changes should be done slowly and steadily.

    (When kept in the refrigerator, let it sit out for some time and come to normal at room temperature, thereafter put it on the flame, and vice-versa)

  • Cleaning the Vessel is not done with regular Soap and Water-

    Since the clay pots are porous in nature, you will not be able to clean them with soap. If you do so, you will end up having soap, the next time you cook a meal in it. It can leaching into your food.

    Thus, you should always clean your earthen cookware with hot water and a firm brush.

HOW TO AVOID CRACKS IN CLAY POTS (EARTHENWARE)

  • HANDLE WITH CARE- The earthenware can break if they slip out of the hand, hence handle with care.
  • AVOID IMMEDIATE CHANGES IN EXTREME TEMPERATURES- Taking care of not changing the extreme temperature of the vessel immediately.
  • ALWAYS COOK FOOD ON MEDIUM TO LOW FLAME- Cooking on high flame may lead to cracking of the vessel.
  • PERFECT SEASONING OF THE VESSEL- When using it for the first (few) times, there are certain ways that you can follow, to perfectly season your pots. Below, I have mentioned a few of them. You can use any one of the methods as per your convenience and liking.
  • NEVER PUT AN EMPTY VESSEL ON THE STOVE – Always put some contents that need to be cooked in the vessel before switching on the stove. If put empty, the vessel might crack.
Earthen Cookware

METHODS TO MAINTAIN AND SEASON CLAY POTS (EARTHENWARE)

Above we have talked a lot about seasoning your vessel for longer usage, but the question is- How do you actually “SEASON OR CURE” your vessel? Below are some ways you can do it.

  1. The First Method

  • Boil a sufficient amount of water in any vessel of your choice, with a handful of rice in it.
  • After the rice is cooked, you will need to strain the rice and preserve the water.
  • The preserved rice water should then be poured into your earthen vessel, which you have to season and leave it that way overnight.
  • Now you need to throw the rice water away the next morning from your earthen vessel.
  • Repeat the process for around a week.
  • On the seventh day wash your earthenware thoroughly and keep it under the sun for drying.
  • When it’s completely dry- make rice porridge and let it boil for 30 mins.
  • After that empty, the contents and again thoroughly wash the vessel.
  • Finally, grease your vessel with oil and keep it aside for some time. When you see that the oil is all soaked in by the vessel, that is an indication that your clay pot is cured/seasoned and bang on- it’s all ready to use.
  1. The Second Method

  • After buying a new earthenware, soak it in a big container full of water for a day. 
  • The next day clean ii thoroughly with a scrubber, to remove the mud, and then let your earthenware dry in the sun for 4-5 hours. This will remove all the mud- particles present inside the clay pot.
  • Next, you will need to grease the pot with oil in and out. Then put the Earthenware on the stove and heat it on a low flame for 2-3 mins.
  • When you see fumes coming out of the pot, switch the stove off and let the pot cool down.
  • Finally, wash the clay pot, and woo-hoo, it’s all ready to use.
  1. The third Method

  • After purchase, wash the vessel properly under running water and dry it with a cotton cloth.
  • Fill the pan with water – almost 1/4 of the pan.
  • Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour to the water- it could be any flour (wheat, rice, arrowroot)-anyone.
  • Mix and then let the mixture cook for approximately half an hour or till the mixture becomes thick.

    (If you want to season your pot grain-free then instead of flour, mix cooking oil and let it boil for half an hour or till the mixture come to rolling-boiling)

  • Turn the stove off and after the mixture cools down, empty the pot.
  • Wash your vessel thoroughly and finally grease the outer part of the pot with some oil (not the bottom).

BINGO- THE POT IS CURED/ SEASONED AND IS READY FOR USE.

TIP- Your vessel will give the best results, the older it gets, so we can definitely say that EARTHEN COOKWARE AGES GRACEFULLY. 😉

HOW TO CLEAN YOUR CLAY POT (EARTHENWARE)

  • Hand washing of the utensil is recommended
  • Ideally, the method to clean the Earthenware is to clean it with water and a Scrub Pad or a stiff brush. It suffices, as the earthenware has natural non-stick properties and there is hardly anything that sticks to the bottom.

    Because of the porous nature of the earthenware, soap is not advisable to use.

  • If water does not thoroughly satisfy you with the cleaning, you could just sprinkle some baking soda on the inside and outside of the wet pot, scrub it and wash.
  • If accidentally you‘ve burnt the food or over-cooked the food, pour warm water in the pot, and mix some baking soda in it. Let It soak for around 10 mins, scrub it with a scrub-pad and wash. That’s it. The food comes off easily.

    TIP- Always keep hot pots on a stand or a wooden board. It really helps.

HOW TO STORE YOUR EARTHENWARE

Always keep your vessels in a well ventilated area. Avoid humidity like the inside of closed cabinets.  Once in 2-3 months, you could even go ahead with drying your pots on the stove top for at least 5-10 mins or until the rim becomes warm enough to touch. 

HOW DO YOU SELECT AN EARTHEN COOKWARE?

The first and the foremost thing that you should ever look for before buying the Clay Pot- is whether it is GLAZED OR NOT.

For easier handling, there are a lot of earthenware in the market which is glazed and have certain benefits like – they are easy to clean and there is no seasoning required before usage, but it comes with its disadvantages-

A glazed pot loses its three main advantages:

  • Absorption of water and the porosity- that gives you the benefit of all the vitamins and minerals present in an earthenware.
  • Circulation of steam- that helps the food to maintain its nutrients
  • Alkalinity- which makes your food easy for your stomach to digest.

    These are the basic three reasons for which you would actually choose to buy the Earthenware, but THE GLAZED EATHERNWARE COOKWARE loses OUT ON ALL THE THREE OF THE ADVANTAGES.

HENCE ITS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED THAT YOU BUY UNGLAZED EARTHENWARE.

A “PARTIALLY GLAZED POT” could also be a good option- Glazed at the bottom but not glazed inside the lid”.  
If you do not want to take the pains of actually seasoning your pot, then you could probably go for a “partially glazed pot”.

However, this kind of cookware will only give you the “Benefits of earthenware -only partially” as compared to an unglazed pot.

WHERE TO BUY EARTHEN COOKWARE?

Telling you frankly, the best place to buy EARTHENWARE is from the Local Potters/ Vendors of your City for that Authentic feel of the Earthenware Cookware.

But if you are looking out options online, then do refer to the cookware that I have mentioned below and would personally recommend for using.

frquently asked questions

  • How do I prepare my newly bought clay pots for Cooking?

Ans:  You will need to season your Clay Pots before cooking. There are certain ways to do it. I have mentioned some of the methods above. You can choose anyone, as per your liking, just cure your pot and start using.

  • How does one use clay pots for daily cooking? Can we use them on an electric stove?

Ans: The answer is very simple, you can use clay pots just like you use the other vessels in your kitchen to make food. The only difference is that always cook food on low to medium heat. Plus, never leave an empty vessel on top of the stove, with the flame on.

Yes, you can use it on an electric stove as well, but again do make sure that you have a heat diffuser and the temperature at which you cook your food is low. 

  • Can rice be cooked in a Clay Pot?

Ans: Definitely yes, you can cook anything including rice in your clay pot. Cook it exactly the way you would cook it in any other vessel. Just make sure that the flame is medium to low.

  • How can we cook food on a gas stove using clay utensils?

Ans:  In the initial stages of using your clay pot, start with a low flame and gradually increase the flame to medium after 5-6 mins. Once you have used the vessel a couple of times, you can start with medium heat.

Though the food will cook perfectly on medium heat, do check your dish a couple of times when cooking is on. If need be, put the flame on slow, as clay holds back all the heat inside. Yet again you could increase the flame to medium after some time.

Avoid high flame. It is definitely not recommended.

  • What are the benefits of cooking in clay pots?

Ans:  There are a lot of benefits of cooking in clay pots. In fact, they have been researched as one of the best Cookware from medieval times till date. HERE I have listed all the benefits (Health benefits included) of cooking in Clay Pots.

  • Are the painted clay pots ( which are used for water storage) safe for use?

Ans- As far as I know, Clay pots for water storage are only painted and glazed on the outside to make them look more beautiful. That does not harm in any way.

If by any chance if you happen to see that the pot is glazed or painted on the inside as well, then according to me, it’s not worth a purchase.

  • Which is the best Clay pot for Cooking?

Ans: An Un-glazed Clay Pot is the best for cooking, giving you all the benefits that earthenware is supposed to have.

PrODUCT RECOMMENDATIONS

FOR MY INDIAN READERS

Craftsman: Pre-seasoned Earthen Pan with Lid

Check out the Complete Range-  HERE.

FOR MY INTERNATIONAL READERS

Romertopf: Natural Glazed Clay Cooker; Round Casserole

Check out the Complete Range-  HERE.

SIGNING OFF:

Research says it that Clay pots are the best cookware available in the market. Its biggest disadvantage being that the food cooks slow in these vessels, but don’t you think, it’s actually the right way to cook- i.e SLOWLY and with all the benefits that it gives , it is actually worth it.

You never know . the benefits of a 100% clay cookware might add a few extra years to your life, and mind you along with health,  your taste buds will thank you enough for the best food brought to them. You might even start liking those veggies , that you used to run away from.

Do give it a shot, it’s actually worth it.  Happy Cooking.

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