Earthenware cookware will make 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.
Earthen cooking pots make your food 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 cooking pots keep 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 pots are 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.
Terracotta cooking 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
4 cups of rice
10.6" x 11.3" x 11.3"
10" x 8.3" x 6.5"
9" x 6"
13.75" x 8.8" x 6.5"
8.5" x 4.25"
10.5" x 5.25" x 3.25"
2 lb loaf
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 clay pans for cooking.
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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