Terracotta is one of the oldest known vessels used by mankind, dating all the way back to 24,000 BC. Made of earthenware clay, terracotta vessels are excellent for slow cooking, roasting etc and are great for baking. It’s unique properties help retain moisture and heat making these type of vessels superb for cooking.
Terracotta, “baked earth” is a kind of clay based glazed or unglazed ceramic, where the fired body is porous. It occurs naturally in shades ranging from brown to earthy reds.
Benefits of using Terracotta
Terracotta pots can be used for many different applications like roasting, slow cooking, boiling, frying, simmering and even baking. Different terracotta cookware are compatible with different cooking surfaces including ovens. Terracotta vessels have thick walls which ensures that food heats up evenly and also cooks in its own juices. This brings about tastier and healthier dishes. With terracotta, usage of oil is reduced considerably and a gentle steam ensures a full flavoured nutrient rich dish.
Since it is so good at retaining heat, terracotta vessels keep food hot as long as the lid stays on. Storing drinking water in terracotta pots is a long standing south Asian tradition. Water remains cool and absorbs healthy minerals through this method. Compared to materials like aluminium, terracotta cookware is virtually harmless to our bodies. However care should be taken to select and buy earthenware from reputed and trusted sources.
Although terracotta has many amazing benefits, maintaining and taking care of these vessels is another story. They are extremely fragile and can break when dropped or bumped on hard surfaces. The vessels should also be cleaned carefully as odour can easily sink into them.
Pots and pans made of fired clay are porous, so they have a tendency to transfer the flavour and odour of pungent foods like garlic, hot spices, hot peppers, and onions to the next dish you cook. Seasoning your terracotta will reduce, although not eliminate this while making it non-stick at the same time. It also takes longer to cook in terracotta vessels, so do plan accordingly.
Types of Terracotta Pots.
There are various types of vessels available in the market. A tagine is a traditional slow cooker with a high conical or dome-shaped cover and a wide, shallow base. During cooking, the steam gets collected at the top of the uniquely-shaped lid. It then condenses and drips back into the food. This natural way of basting allows the food to cook in their own juices, resulting in moist and tender dishes.
The cazuela is a shallow, round earthenware pot that originated in Spain. Aside from its ability to function as a skillet or a shallow pot, this versatile cookware can be used on the stove, in the oven, or over a campfire. The end product of Micaceous Clay Cookware has a lovely sheen so it is usually left unglazed. It comes in many forms – pots, skillets, baking pans, and casseroles. Like other terracotta cookware, it retains heat well and can even stand being placed over direct fire.
Whatever kind you may choose to try out, Terracotta pots and pans are an incredible kitchen aid that has been around for centuries!
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