COOK UP YOUR FAVORITE MEALS WITH THESE PERFECT COOKING POTS...
People have been cooking in clay pots for millennia, but in the western world, steel, aluminum, and iron pots and pans are dominant. Nevertheless, unglazed clay pots are making a comeback and seem to be all the rage these days. Earthenware pots are beautiful to look at, unique, and relatively inexpensive. And because of clay’s unique properties, there are some unexpected benefits to cooking in unglazed clay pots.
Your food will taste better
Clay is porous. This characteristic allows heat and moisture to circulate throughout the pot during cooking, resulting in a “slow, even, and delicate” dish. Some people say that clay pots give food a “taste of the earth.”
Whether the food actually tastes like earth can be debated, but what you can’t deny is the fact that food cooked in clay pots simply tastes better. The secret, perhaps, lies in how clay conducts heat. Unlike steel, aluminum, or iron, clay pots take a long time to absorb heat, but once the heat does absorb, it is released just as slowly. This slow cooking allows flavors in the dish to build gradually, for spices to penetrate more deeply, and for tough pieces of meat to break down into succulent pieces.
Your food will be healthier
Another benefit of cooking in an unglazed clay pot is that, because clay is alkaline, the clay interacts with the acidity in certain foods and neutralizes the pH balance. Something that is naturally very acidic, like tomato sauce, will acquire a natural sweetness when cooked in earthenware.
The slow heating properties of clay pots also plays a significant role in preserving the nutritional value of foods that are often lost when cooking in steel, aluminum, or iron pots. An experiment conducted in India found that lentils cooked in an unglazed clay pot retained 100 percent of their micronutrients whereas those cooked in a steel pot only maintained 30 percent. Another similar study found that pea paste cooked in earthenware not only had a better taste and color than pea paste prepared in an iron pot, but the pea paste prepared in the clay pot tested lower for total starch and total sugar.
A final health benefit has to do with the type of clay that is used. The majority of unglazed clay pots are made with unrefined coarse clay found in riverbeds and creeks. This kind of clay is rich in trace elements – including magnesium, iron, zinc, calcium, and phosphorus – all of which are essential to the wellbeing of the human body. These trace minerals leach into the food as it cooks.
Earthenware keeps bacteria at bay.
Because clay is porous, you may assume that earthenware traps bacteria and mold spores, but that’s not so. Many clay pot advocates claim that cooking and storing food in a clay pot allows it to remain unspoiled for several days, even at room temperature.
The first clue came in the 19th century when a German physician and scientist used clay to disinfect wounds and as a cure for bacterial infections. He went on to popularize the idea that clay is inhospitable to the growth of certain kinds of bacteria.
This idea finds support in a study performed in 2011, where researchers found that the amount of putrefactive and aerobic bacteria – the kind that cause spoilage and decomposition – considerably decreased whenever a clay pot was used to ferment kimchi.
Unglazed earthenware is non-toxic.
When cooking in metal pots, harmful metals inevitably leach into your food. However, this is not an issue if you’re cooking in clay pots. You may have heard that clay leaches lead, but the only way that this is possible is if the clay pot has been glazed. Some artisans use lead to brighten the color of the glaze, but this practice has been in decline. Additionally, the FDA requires all earthenware that is imported to the United States to pass certain inspections before they can be sold, and that includes a lead and cadmium test.
Clay pots are better for the planet.
Essentially, clay pots come from the soil, and when you discard them, they decompose right back into it. The heat properties of clay also make them a more sustainable cookware option. Because they can keep foods warm for up to six hours off of residual heat alone, the need for reheating is reduced, making clay pots an energy efficient option.
It is evident that unglazed clay cooking pots are where it’s at, so here are the ten best! In this guide, we will discuss dimensions, specifications, and uses of each unglazed clay pot so that you can start enjoying the many benefits of clay pot cooking immediately.
THE BEST UNGLAZED COOKING POTS
Dual-Handled Unglazed Cooking Pot with Lid by Paderno World Cuisine
Enjoy the benefits of clay pot cooking with this stylish one-quart pot by Paderno World Cuisine. The pot and lid weigh a surprising 2.55 pounds and has a diameter of 7.5.” The pot is 4.5” tall.
Unlike boiling, which destroys much of the foods’ nutritional value, food cooked in a glazed pot retains the majority of its nutrients.
To get the most out of your clay pot, scrub hard to remove stains with salt. It is not dishwasher safe; hand wash only and thoroughly dry before storing.
Moroccan Large Lead-Free Cooking Tagine by Cooking Tagines
Tagines are a shallow circular dish with a top distinctively shaped into a rounded cone or dome. Moroccan culture regularly uses tagines to both cook and serve food.
This large tagine is 12-inches wide and ideal for cooking on top of any kind of stove. Seafood, meat, and vegetarian dishes will all taste more flavorful and succulent when cooked in this tagine.
The clay pot contains no lead and is safe for use with food. Be sure that you cure and season your tagine before first use. Handwash only using a mild dish detergent and warm water.
High-Fired 2-in-1 Rice and Slow Cooker by VitaClay
You already know that slow cookers infuse taste into food and reduce the percentage of nutrients lost when compared to cooking rapidly at high heat. Now, you can combine the benefits of clay cooking and slow cooking with this piece. Say goodbye to your Crock Pot and hello to VitaClay.
The unglazed clay cooking pot insert is available in two quarts, six cups, or eight cups and can be purchased separately
as well. You can program the cooker for thirty minutes to 12 hours with 30-minute increments. There are also settings for white rice, brown rice, soups, and stews. See it also here
Black Clay, La Chamba Oval Casserole, 2.25-quarts by Ancient Cookware
Artisans uniquely craft this black clay pot in Central Colombia. It is made from natural unglazed clay and is entirely safe for use with food. It is also toxin free.
For convenience, there are two small round handles on either side. The total length of this clay pot is 10.8 inches, 8.3” width, and 6.5 inches tall. You can comfortably fit 2.25 quarts in the pot without it overflowing.
You can safely use this black clay pot on gas or electric stovetops, as well as the oven, microwave, or grill. Food cooks very evenly and retains heat for a long time when cooked you use this piece by Ancient Cookware.
Romertopf Round Casserole Clay Cooker, 2-quart by Reston Lloyd
Handcrafted in Germany from natural clay, the round shape of this casserole dish makes it ideal for making braised meats, bread, and moist, delicious roasts. Soak the top in water before using. The lid will absorb the water and create a blanket of steam inside and out, resulting in more savory and intense flavors.
This unglazed clay pot holds up to two quarts or 4.5 pounds of food. It can serve between two to four people and measures nine inches by six inches.
The dish features two handles on the side, and the round shape works well with microwave turntables. Unlike other clay pots, this one is dishwasher safe, but we highly recommend handwashing to lengthen the pot’s lifespan.
Romertopf Modern Series Natural Clay Cooker, 3.1-Quart by Reston Lloyd
Crafted by hand in Germany, this clay baker is designed for making moist, delicious roasts, braises, and breads. Because the clay pot and lid trap steam so well, the food cooks in its own juices, almost eliminating the need for additional fats, oils, or liquids. If you soak the lid of this baker before using, the lid will absorb the water and create a blanket of steam inside and out, intensifying the flavors.
The exterior of the baker has handles on either side for comfortable gripping. It has a three-quart capacity and can serve between four to six people. You can also get this same design in a four-quart model.
Terracotta Tortilla Warmer by Fox Run
Made of attractive terracotta, this stylish warmer will keep your tortillas, pancakes, waffles, or crepes warm and soft. Soak the base of the dish in water and heat the warmer and lid for perfect tortillas every time.
And while it's sold as a tortilla warmer, you can definitely use it to sauté vegetables, cook small portions of food, or steam rice. You can safely use it in the microwave, oven, electric stovetop, or open flame to a max temperature of 464 degrees Fahrenheit.
The interior of the pot is approximately 7” x 2.75.” Keep this in mind when making or purchasing your tortillas.
Large Clay Curry Pot, 9-Inches by Ancient Cookware
Made from coarse clay mined from the riverbanks of India, the extreme porosity of this pot makes it ideal for cooking curry and stews, sautéing vegetables and greens, or steaming rice.
The unique shaping process gives this unglazed clay pot an even rounded base that is thin enough for electric stoves yet sturdy enough that you can safely use on gas-flame.
This pot is lead-free and safe for use with food.
Unglazed Terracotta Bread Form by KitchenMarket
There is something entirely irresistible about bread baked in unglazed clay. It’s magical. The inside turns soft; the outside becomes crusty and tempting all over.
Any of the clay pots on this list will get the job done, but if you’re a stickler for shape, this pan is the way to go. The base of the pan is significantly narrower than the top, making for an oddly shaped, but delicious nonetheless, piece of bread. Just prepare yourself for all the old-world feels.
The pan comes with a set of care instructions.
Set of Two Handmade Clay Cooking Pots by MyFancyCraft
Why have one unglazed clay pot when you can have two? When you order this set from MyFancyCraft, you get a small, 23-ounce pot and a large 77-ounce pot.
Handcrafted in Ukraine, these pots are 100 percent eco-friendly and made from natural materials without chemicals, dyes, lead, and toxins. While you can use these dishes in the microwave, oven, or electric stove, MyFancyCraft does not recommend that you use them on a gas stove.
Many people like the idea of cooking in unglazed clay pots but just feel that it’s a little too impractical. Well, it’s actually a lot easier than you think. Here’s how to get started.
Cure your pot.
Curing your pot allows oil and other materials to seep into the pot’s porous body. This helps to strengthen the clay against thermal shock, store moisture to prevent cracking, and in some cases, enhance the flavors. Different cultures have different tactics. Some soak their clay pots in rice water. Others rub with garlic, boil milk in it, or coat with coconut oil and add heat. All of these ways work. After curing your pot, you could go on to put in the oven, microwave, on a glass, electric, coil, or gas stove.
Start cooking at a low temperature.
Unlike metal pots where you can immediately crank up the heat, start at a low temperature when using clay pots.
Wash it by hand.
Wash your clay pots with a mild dishwashing soap and warm water. Strong-smelling, aggressive dish detergents can get into the porous clay and taint whatever you cook next.
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