Using and Caring for Stoneware

Posted by Catur Setiawan | 2:21 PM | , , , | 2 comments »

Delicious Foods - Fast and Easy!


My favorite cookware is stoneware. I have several pieces: a round pizza stone, two large bar pans from Pampered Chef, a loaf pan, and a muffin pan. I use them all the time! Since I bought my stoneware, I haven't used metal or glass bakeware at all!

Stoneware is unique - it's a bit different to cook in, and stoneware is definitely different to take care of!

There are many different kinds of stoneware on the market today. There are several distinct differences between types. Some are glazed, and most of the instructions I give here will not apply. Most people are familiar with glazed stoneware in the form of a crockpot. Glazed stoneware can be washed in soap and water, and does not need to be seasoned. It may be glazed in any color of the rainbow and have patterns or decorations, producing beautiful stones. However, glazed stones lack the non-stick capabilities of unglazed stoneware.

Unglazed stoneware comes in several colors. The most common are red and "white" (which is really a variety of off-white colors). My pizza stone is a yellowish gray with tiny flecks of darker material in it, and my Pampered Chef stoneware is a medium beige. I have never used red stoneware and so cannot comment on it other than I've read that it must be soaked prior to use. The off-white clays are fired at a much higher temperature and may be used "as-is", which makes them far more convenient. Be sure to buy your stoneware from a reputable dealer, as some foreign clays may contain lead.

I have found several things to be true when cooking in stoneware.

First, new stoneware needs to be seasoned. The easiest way to do this is to cook something greasy but not overly flavored in it - crescent rolls are a good choice for seasoning stoneware. Clean it according to the instructions below. Do this several times, and you'll have perfectly seasoned stoneware!

Second, some recipes need to be slightly adjusted. Because stoneware heats evenly but slowly, and retains heat, the cooking time may need to be adjusted. Also, if you leave food in the pan after removing from the oven, it may still cook for a short time. It's best to cook food completely and remove to another pan or cooling rack, to guarantee results. Some foods just get better if you leave them, though (crispy potatoes, for example). Also, some bread and muffin recipes seem to need a tiny bit less liquid. If you cook in stoneware with a tight-fitting lid, you may need significantly less liquid.

There are some important safety factors to consider when cooking on stoneware. Stoneware pans get VERY hot and take a long time to cool off. Be sure to use hot mitts, and always touch the stoneware with a quick fingertip if you're not sure that it will be cold.and I've gone out to wash the dishes after a leisurely supper and discovered the pan to be too hot to touch. One time I found this out the hard way, resulting in bad burns on both hands. An additional danger of washing hot stoneware is that it may break. Rapid temperature change is "deadly" to stoneware! For the same reason, although you can refrigerate and freeze foods directly in your stoneware, be sure to bring food to room temperature before putting the food in the oven. Never add liquid to hot stoneware. Don't put stoneware on a direct heat source (such as a stove burner) or under a broiler.

Most unglazed stoneware has a slightly "rough" feel to the bottom. Do not slide it along your countertop on its way to the oven! Be very careful not to bump or drop your stoneware - it can crack or even shatter. Take care in how you store your stones, so they do not get bumped by each other or by your other pans.

You can cook almost anything in stoneware! Use it in the oven or microwave (note that foods may not brown or crisp if you microwave them). Breads, muffins, cookies, and biscuits all turn out very well when baked in a stone. Pizza is frequently baked on stoneware. Any meat will turn out tender and juicy. Potatoes are excellent when cooked on stoneware. Anything you can bake - you can bake in stoneware!

You simply cannot clean unglazed stoneware in the same way that you do "regular" pots and pans. Commit right from the beginning to NEVER use soap. That's right! Never, ever, ever use soap on your stoneware. Only clean room-temperature stoneware. If it's hot or cold, allow it to come to room temp before cleaning! Clean your stoneware with a plastic scraper widget. If one did not come with your stone, ask at a kitchen store, order one from Pampered Chef, or try a semi-flexible credit card. Scrape off food and rinse steadily under the hottest water that will come from your tap. Be sure to get off anything that's stuck on, especially in the edges. Dry before storing.

Unglazed stoneware will start to turn color from the first use. My stones are numerous shades of dark brown. Some people think this is ugly, but I think it's beautiful - all of that discoloration is a sign of the stone's non-stick capabilities.

From time to time, you will want to deep-clean your stone. You will need to do this after the first couple of uses, because foods may stick until the stone is seasoned. You may also want to do this if you cooked something especially greasy, sticky, or flavorful in your stoneware. First, scrape off anything you can that's stuck on. Then run the stone under very hot water. Sprinkle the wet pan with baking soda and gently scrub (I use one of those soapless green scrubby pads). Leave the pan to sit for half an hour. If you're deep-cleaning because soap or rancid food came in contact with the stoneware, leave it to sit overnight. Use the plastic widget to scrape off the baking soda, then rinse in the hottest tap water available. Do not do this too often, as repeated deep cleaning can remove some of the non-stick capability of your stoneware.

A warning - collecting stoneware can be addicting! I've accumulated all of my pieces over the past year. I'm planning several more purchases in the near future. Cooking in stoneware is fast, easy, delicious, and fun!

2 comments

  1. Amy Roberts // November 11, 2012 at 3:50 PM  

    If you need anymore stoneware or scrapers you can go to www.pamperedchef.biz/AmysCookingCorner and shop 24/7! Thank you for your post it was very well written. What do you put between your stones for storage if you are having to stack them?

  2. Melanie Dyer // March 24, 2014 at 8:20 PM  

    Other than Pampered Chef, are there any other decent quality stone wear baking pans? I'm not opposed to spending money on quality, but I am opposed to paying for a brand, so if I can get something of quality for a little less than Pampered Chef, I'd like to try. However, if I can't find anything else, I'm happy to go with PC. Thanks!