We are in the era where everything we use and consume must be screened. Unfortunately, most of the food and cookware we use cause us health hazards. Thus, our article today takes us back when people never used contaminative chemicals to cook or manufacture cookware.
In any case, the past methods are healthier. I call it ‘cook the old fashion way. The materials that were used in making cookware were healthy. Today, we look at the unglazed clay pots and which ones should we choose amongst the many available ones.
Benefits of Using Unglazed Clay Pots
- I like that they are porous in nature
Using the pots will mean there’s efficient moisture and heat circulating in the food. This allows for slow cooking yet maintenance of the aroma and food flavor. In my opinion, there’s a complete difference between the food I cook in the clay pots versus other utensils.
I love the earthy taste that lingers in my mouth when eating food cooked using clay. The clay pots generally retain the heat thus allowing the proteins to tenderize while breaking the collagen. Moreover, it will keep your food warm for longer.
- The healthy nature of the pots
This is something that has been proven scientifically. The clay pots will always react with your food acidity which consequently neutralizes the acidic nature. It also gives makes your food attain the natural sweetness while balancing the PH.
These pots are made using the unrefined type of coarse clay that you find on the river bed. This clay is rich in minerals like phosphorus, sulfur, iron and magnesium that your body needs. I like that this minerals leach into your food as you are cooking.
Whenever you cook the food in clay pots, you limit the amount of oil you are using. You don’t need more oil to retain the moisture and this is a plus especially in an era when we are concerned about our health. So, your food remains healthy and tasty.
- Your food is safe from bacteria
Although clay pots are porous, they don’t allow the growth of molds and bacteria in the pores. In fact, the best part is that it can keep your food safe for more days than other utensils.
Scientifically, it has been proven that clay can’t host some bacteria which means your food is safe.
- They offer your kitchen the aesthetic appeal
These pots are generally beautifully designed. There’s no limitation as to how the pots should look. You can make them as uniquely shaped and designed as you wish.
- For the enhanced flavor
Naturally, the pots retain the heat and moisture within the food which means its aroma remains within the pot. Moreover, it has an additional earthy flavor which I love the most. This flavor I’m sure you will never get in other utensils.
- They are eco-friendly
When making unglazed clay pots, you don’t need chemicals. Most other utensils are made using chemicals that are toxic in nature.
You make the pots using a type of soil which decomposes back to the soil.
The pots ability to retain the heat is a plus. The pot will keep your food warm for about 6 hours which means it’s an energy-efficient option.
- They are readily available and affordable
Although time has changed, it’s still possible to walk into a shop and find the pure clay pots. The good news is that they are vastly cheap. Moreover, you get to choose from the unique designs available and the shapes available.
Types of Clay Pots
Until recently, I didn’t know there are different types of pots in the market. Well, this might be because the only ones around me are the stoneware pots. Depending on the clay type used to make your pot, you will use it for different reasons. Let’s check a few of those options
These pots are made using a hard type of clay that has fewer impurities yet it’s fired at a temperature of about 2100 to 2300 degrees F. The features above make it ideal for use as cookware and dinnerware sets. The pots can also hold liquids without leaking.
This is another type that you make from pure Kaolin. For the porcelain design, you need extremely high temperatures (2335-2550 degrees) to harden your pots. They contain fewer impurities and are normally made into hard clay.
On the downside, they are fragile as they break easily. When fired completely, the pots remain smooth and shiny such that you need not glaze them. They are best used as dinnerware although you can also use them to cook.
This features the clay type that is fired at low temperature(1700-2100degrees) making it porous. They are made using impure clay that contains stones and rocks that is gathered from the riverbed. For you to use these pots in cooking or holding liquids, you must glaze them.
- How they are assembled
The clay pot is either handmade where you pinch them into shape or use a coil and flat slabs to make them smooth.
There are those that are made using a pottery wheel. The clay pots are thus either handmade or wheel thrown.
- The type of clay
Here the type of clay used to make the pots matter. There’s a difference in the pots made using the pure clay and impure ones. The color and texture also make the difference in the two.
We had already mentioned that porcelain is the purest form of clay that makes about 100% pure clay. Other colors of clay used include red, white, black, yellow and grey.
Unglazed Terracotta Cookware
This features the highest quality of earthenware cookware that is usually reddish or brownish color and its fired at low temperature. This is made using the clay that contains iron. The iron is responsible for the brownish color.
Naturally, the clay loses its water and becomes solid as well as porous. Its essentially originally from Italy and it’s also among the oldest clay cookware known to man.
This is your Moroccan style of pot. Its distinctive feature is that it slow cooks your food at a low temperature. It further has a wide and shallow base with a high conical lid. The lid design will condense the steam then take it back to the food.
It keeps your food moist and tender. These pots are popularly used for making tangine stews, roasting and cooking rice and beans. The design allows you to carry it directly from the cooking oven to the table.
Best Unglazed Clay Pots
If you would love a pot with the high ability to slow cook, this tangine is your on the go to pot. This is your ideal Moroccan design that features the exotic visual appeal.
You can use the tangine on the electric or glass stoves but when you want to use the open flame gas stove ensure you protect your tangine from cracking using the protective metal piece.
Here is the Spanish terracotta design. The pots are versatile but unlike the Moroccan ones this one is glazed and you can use it on the stove, over the fire, inside the oven and even the microwave.
It has a high insulation property that keeps your food hot for longer. It’s best used for slow-cooked meals.
- The terracotta clay baker
This is meant for baking and it adds the aesthetic appeal to your kitchen. Baking in this cookware results in a perfect outer crust because the water in the baking content evaporates at a slow rate.
You can also use it when you are looking to achieve a richly flavored and succulent roast meat. What I like more about this item is that the food comes out moist and tender.
Terracotta pot with a lid
This kind of cookware is meant to revive your old-fashioned cooking while displaying some modern advantages. This is designed using the high-quality clay from Germany that will help it retain your food nutrients.
It acts as a slow cooker and it will only work in the oven. Never place on the stove top. Its bottom is glazed with a glass frit to allow for easy cleaning. Its unglazed top absorbs water in its pores create a steam layer for perfect cooking.
The item is safe from harmful chemicals like lead and cadmium.
Seasoning Your Terracotta Pots
The terracotta clay pots are normally so beautiful that you may be tempted to use it immediately you buy it. But, when used without seasoning, the pot will remain fragile. A seasoned pot is strong and has a lengthened lifespan.
- You first place your pot in a bucket full of water. Let it stay for as long as 3 hours in this water. If you can soak it for longer the better.
- Next, fill your pot with water up to the rim level and cover it with the lid. Then place it on the stovetop or the oven to begin heating. Let the pot heat up for as long as 2 hours or until the water is fully evaporated.
Remember to start heating at a low temperature first then increase the heat after about 10 minutes. After the time elapses, switch off the heat source and let your pot cool. Your terracotta will develop great insulating qualities. The seasoning is done only once.
Lead-free clay pots
This is a stoneware cookware that is fired and glazed at medium-high temperature. It’s porous thus it retains heat for a longer period. This pot is breathable through its tiny pores. It’s made using the fine clay then naturally glazed.
You can only use it on the stove top at allow temperature. Always coat the surface with a little oil as you begin cooking. From spicy tofu stew to ginseng chicken soup and kimchi stew, you are spoilt for choice of what to cook in this gadget.
Black clay pots for cooking
Another unglazed clay pot is the black clay pot above. The pot is a Colombian handicraft design that is safe from harmful toxins. It will further work as a dinnerware since it debuts the shape of casserole.
It further has a flat bottom that makes it ideal for use on the gas tops, microwave, oven and electric ranges. The pot heats evenly while retaining the heat over a long duration because of its porous nature.
This slow evaporation further ensures you have tastier, moist and flavorful food. Its oval shape design is enough space to even cook your poultry. When well maintained it serves you for ages.
This pot has its history back 7 centuries ago. To date, it’s still handmade by the Colombian communities who are found around Magdalena river of central Colombia.
The small clay pots
This unique and small pot design is made using red clay then its glazed on both the inside and outside. Although it’s glazed it is free of lead and other toxic metals. The pot is designed to give you healthy meals you need.
It’s made on the potter’s wheel with the pure rural red clay then subjected to high temperatures twice in order to harden it. It originates from the countryside of Ukraine.
Moreover, it hasn’t lost its touch or charm from the traditional design. The pots are durable when you maintain and care for them. Additionally, they are easy to clean. Understand that they may have a slight variation in color.
Also, its versatile for use, you can use it to stew, bake and serve. The design works as your cookware and dinnerware as well. You just get it from your oven and place on the table for service.
Note that, you should never place this cookware on the gas or electric stove as it only works in the oven. I recently received mine from my mother during the Thanksgiving Day. It’s a nice gift to your loved ones.
Large clay pot
This stoneware pot is a Chinese design that is large enough to feed your entire family. It’s glazed to assume a deep brown color that is both scratch and stain resistant. You don’t need extra bowls with this item as you can also use it for serving dinner.
These pots retain the heat and with the lid, your food will remain warm for a longer time. Like all other cookware, this pot retains all the nutrients within the food.
Unglazed ceramic pots
This pot is pure clay made without additives. The Ukrainian pot is handcrafted in the pottery wheel that you may use to cook your stews, sauces and soups. The pot features the authentic design that you season and process in milk to achieve the unique dark brown color.
Since clay retains the food aroma and nutrients and this one is pure clay, the pot will offer you convenience. It’s further eco-friendly to use and a perfect tool to enhance your kitchen aesthetic appeal.
You should never use them on the gas or electric stove rather only the microwave and oven.
French clay pot
This pot is designed to accommodate the use of open gas flame, electric or halogen stovetops. You don’t need a diffuser to keep your pots bottom safe. It’s made using the burgundy clay.
This French pot isn’t even affected by the temperature. You could remove it from the freezer to the oven, microwave and broiler. It further retains the food heat for a longer time. To achieve the food tenderness and moist texture, the lid has holes that retain evaporating water.
The water is then distributed back to the food. Although it’s expected that the clay pots be heavier, this is 30% lighter than most cookware. The pot is safe from cracks that may result from exposure to high heat.
Spanish clay pot
Although it assumes the Moroccan design it’s made in Madrid. It’s a tangine that is designed for cooking the Moroccan and Algerian food. It’s made free of toxic chemicals and with a diffuser protector, you can use it on the electric stoves, gas stove, oven and microwave.
Its lid design collects the food moisture then puts it back to the food so as to maintain a perfect texture. The bottom base of the pot maintains an even heat distribution. Use it to cook your sauces, rice, dips, appetizers and desserts.
To clean it, ensure you handwash it with mild soap and you can also use the dishwasher. Ensure the pot is completely dry before you store it.
Italian clay pot
This is one of the few authentic unglazed pots that require the use of low temperatures to cook. To use this pot, you soak it in water before you begin cooking. This allows for the pot to release steam when you are cooking.
The interior surface is glazed which ensures your food remains moist. Using this pot to steam or boil your food you will consume healthy and nutritious food. Never place the pot in a dishwasher rather handwash it and scab with water and salt.
You can use this pot to cook and serve your meals. It’s a small pot that when properly taken care of will last a while.
Mexican clay pot
The handmade glazed pot is best used to cook your favorite beans. It’s designed for safe use in the kitchen as it’s free of toxic chemicals like lead and cadmium. You can use it on the gas, electric and glass stovetops.
You can also use it in the oven, microwave and even the grill. I particularly like the fact that you don’t have to worry about some parts of the pot heating excessively because it heats evenly.
Like all the other clay pots we have previously seen, it retains the flavor of your food and even improves it.
Turkish clay pot
Cheers to yet another unique pot design.
When you have your food in this pot, you are sure it loses minimal to no moisture. Your food like all the other pots above remains flavorful and since its unglazed, you expect some earthy flavor.
It works by allowing the water in form of moisture to be absorbed on the walls of the pot thus preventing the burning. Do you have a plan to hold your barbecue party in the near future? This item could come in handy when it cooks your side dishes slowly while you continue to grill.
Chinese clay pot
This is another one of the many Chinese clay cooking pots. If you would love to improve your cooking, consider using this item. It distributes and maintains the heat thus enhance a slow cooking process.
You may use it on your gas stoves ovens, electric ceramic stoves and microwave ovens. You can also clean it in the dishwasher. Its insulation capacity is high thus retaining the warm temperature of your food.
The pot is further so strong and can stand very high temperatures without breaking. It’s a medium level capacity as you can cook for about 4 people. The item is safe and healthy to use with the right minerals to infuse to your body.
Electric clay pot
This pot is designed to withstand direct flames and be used on different kinds of stovetops including the electric one. It can stand a temperature of about 752˚F. I use mine for baking, searing, frying, sautéing or braise.
This is an ideal product for using on different cooking methods. This is an elegant dinnerware that will add a flare to your dinner table. It’s perfect for use in making sauces, stews, side dishes among others. For healthy meals, use this heat-resistant clay pot.
There is no possibility of cracking even when subjected to high heat. Moreover, you can freeze your food in it, defrost then heat up again and this won’t cause cracking. It further prevents seeping of the liquids in the walls thus staying safe from the bacterial formation.
The pot retains the heat within the pot making your food warm, delicious and flavorful to the last bite.
The Clay Pot Cook Books
We all know that clay cooking is an ancient method of cooking. However, with innovation comes different style of clay cooking. Romertopf cookbook is one of the classic books that features natural and low-fat cooking.
It entails the best and top recipes. For people like me who love colorful pages, romertopf has you covered. Remember, the writers aren’t just guessing recipes they have their own pots thus they tried the delicious recipes fast before writing them in the book.
These recipes are further easy for daily use. Also, it highlights the tips of cooking using the romertopf pots.
This is a book that features both the modern and ancient methods of cooking from the Mediterranean region. Paula is knowledgeable when it comes to the Mediterranean cuisine mostly because she has taken the time to explore the cuisine.
She collects and explains details about ceramic clay pots of all designs and then gives you the different kind of cooking. Even how to bake in the pots. The book contains 150 colorful recipes of a delicious selection of dishes.
She also gives you the best pots to use for different meals and a selection of other pots that suit the meals from different areas of the world.
Choosing the Best Unglazed Pots
If you will buy your cookware from the USA then you are sure that they must meet certain standards. However, if you are going to buy your cookware from outside, you must scrutinize the product to be sure that it contains no traces of harmful chemicals or metals.
· Types of clay cookware
Remember, we have seen that there are different types of clay used when making the clay pot. Their properties also differ. For you to understand the type of clay used in making the pot you must know the region the pot is from.
Different regions of the world have different types of clay. This is in terms of color and level of purity. Another option to check in regards to the type of clay used is the kind of cookware you are buying. We have earthenware, porcelain, stoneware and sometimes ceramic clay.
· Glazed or unglazed?
Although clay cookware that are glazed are way popular, the unglazed ones have strong features. I know its easy to care for the glazed cookware but your food won’t have the earthy flavor you would have if you used the unglazed pots.
Although most manufacturers of the glazed pots claim that the pots still have the same minerals the clay has this is a question, I will let you answer. The pot is glazed, do you expect it to infuse the same minerals?
For the unglazed pots, the mineral components found in the clay are infused in your food.
This is dependent on your family size. How many people will you be cooking for? There’s large, medium and small capacity for you to choose from.
· Heat source
There are clay pots that you will only use in the oven, electric stoves, gas stoves or open fire. Some you can use in all those kinds of heat. This is dependent on your home heat source and personal preferences.
What’s your price range? Remember you can get the pot at whichever set price range.
In my opinion, go for a popular brand. Get the pot from a dealer with many positive reviews.
How to Season Your Pots
How to Cure Your Clay Cooking Pots
The clay pots are fragile yet beneficial as you have seen. You need to take care of the pots if you intend to have them for a long time. To cure it for the first time, follow the procedures below.
Remember, there’s no clear-cut method on how to cure the pots across the board. Different cultures cure it differently. There is not much difference in curing and seasoning your pots either.
· In a clean bucket of water, soak your pot for about 2 hours then remove it from water and let it thoroughly dry out.
· When curing it you can rub your pot with garlic or boil milk in it. However, in this case, we will use olive oil.
· Once its dry, use a paper towel to wipe the unglazed areas with olive oil. Next, find the ¾ mark of the pot and fill it with water then cover it with a lid.
· In a cold oven, place the pot in the center rack then close the oven and turn it on to a 225˚F.
· Let the pot bake for about 2 to 3 hours. Once the time elapses, switch the oven off and leave the pot in the oven to cool down.
Cooking in Your Unglazed Pot
After you season your pot, its ready for use.
On the stovetop
· Place your seasoned pot on the stove top with whatever you wish to cook.
· Start with a low temperature when you want to cook. Let it stay at the low temperature for about 7 minutes. The essence is to distract the rapid change in temperature which may cause cracking.
· Next, increase your temperature to the medium and keep cooking because your pots especially the unglazed ones retain the temperature.
Note, some pots require you to use the heat diffuser while others don’t just check the make you have.
In the oven
Assuming you already seasoned your pot, begin your cooking at a low temperature. When cooking with a pot in the oven, you don’t have to preheat the oven. Start cooking at 250˚F then let it stay at that for about 10 minutes.
After that, you can increase the temperature to about 450˚F. However, you should know the pot doesn’t work the same way other cookware does. You don’t need high heat in the oven for your food to cook. You may need time though.
Cleaning the Clay Pot
One thing I like about the unglazed pots is that they become nonstick when frequently used. Besides, you will rarely find your food burning in the pot because the moisture is retained in the food. Unless you subject your pot to excessive heat.
Here is how to clean it:
Rinse your pot in water, make sure it’s thoroughly rinsed. Just sprinkle your ½ tsp. of baking soda in the pot. Continue to lightly scrub and then rinse it again. Let your pot dry thoroughly before storing in a well-ventilated area.
Note that, your pots should never be washed with strong smelling dishwashing soap. Also, you should avoid placing it in a dishwasher even when the manufacturer claims its dishwasher safe.
If you have to use soap let it be a mild kind of soap.