Guide to Kitchen Utensils, Pots, Pans and Accessories: Clay Products

About the uses, care, cost, and controvery surrounding Clay kitchen utensils, pots, pans, and accessories.

A Guide to Kitchen Utensils


Properties: Heat slowly and evenly, thus retaining all the natural food flavors. Utensils vary according to quality of clay, methods of processing, and glazes used in finishes.

Clay forms include: 1. Ceramic--usually glazed on the inside and unglazed on the outside. Higher-priced than the softer clayware.

2. Heatproof china--(See: GLASSWARE).

3. Porcelain--ovenproof china. Used for souffle dishes, au gratin dishes, quiche dishes, etc.

4. Terra-cotta--naturally brownish-orange in color, but often glazed in various colors. It is used for surface baking, grilling, and broiling.

Be sure of where pottery was made before buying it. Some countries use a lead glaze which poses the serious danger of lead poisoning.

Cost: Cheap to expensive.

Use: Made into bean pots, casseroles, and roasting dishes (some are shaped like chickens or fish and are glazed inside and/or outside). Ideally suited for slow cooking, braising, and pot roasting.

Care: To clean, use hot water and a stiff brush. Avoid using soap or detergents on porous earthenware. To remove stains in pottery use 2 Tbs. chlorine bleach to 1 cup water. Soak 30 min., then wash. Leave pots uncovered in the open until completely dry. Unglazed pottery should never be allowed to soak.

To season, rub with a clove of garlic inside and out, and bake the pot at 375 deg for 6 hours. Or, after rubbing with garlic, fill the pot with water and spices such as bay leaves, peppercorns, or whatever is preferred, and simmer for about a 1/2 hour on top of an asbestos pad at low heat. Pour the liquid out when cool, and dry well.

In Gertrude Harris's book Pots & Pans she states that most clay utensils are "not affected by foods but are by sudden changes in temperature." Have the pot at room temperature before turning on the heat under it or putting it in the oven.

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