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Ceramic Cookware

Ceramic or pottery cookware has been used all over the world, for many thousands of years, as everyone of course knows. The abundance of clay in the ground and the ease with which a low grade pot can be made, are clearly two of the reasons for its popularity.

However, different clays are of different grades and produce a varying quality of pottery which has different uses. A great many technological advances have been made over the centuries using different clay mixes - adding bone ash to make "bone china" is a well known example. So the quality and nature of your pottery makes a difference to your cooking and to how long your piece is going to last without cracking or chipping. Compared to metal, of course, any ceramic even the most expensive porcelain, is going to be more vulnerable to damage by knocking or dropping. But it is the cheapest clays, fired at low temperatures that are going to crack most easily.

Some general advantages:

  • ceramics hold heat and distribute it evenly
  • they retain moisture
  • they can go directly to the table
  • they are easy to clean

Ceramic or earthenware is generally better suited to long slow cooking as it is a poorer conductor of heat than other cooking materials such as cast iron or aluminium.

Most ceramic pots are also not sufficiently strong to withstand the heat of a direct flame and have traditionally been used just for oven baking and stewing etc.

Recent technological innovations have resulted in a new breed of ceramics, such as Emile Henry Flame which can withstand a direct flame, greatly increasing the versatility of the ceramic cooking pot.

Glazed ceramic cookware provides a reasonably non stick cooking surface. Unglazed pottery, such as terra cotta, have a porous surface that can hold water or other liquids during the cooking process, adding moisture in the form of steam to food. Even the glazed ceramics are likely to be porous to some degree.

Historically, some glazes have used lead and these should be avoided for health reasons.

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