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Section 5: Caring for your clay cooking pot after use

Soaking, washing, drying & storing

After cooking

Remove pot from hot stove burner or oven.

Place hot pot on cold stove burner, pot-holder, non-metal trivet, dry folded dish towel or wooden cutting board. Do not put pot directly on the countertop or in a metal sink.

If you empty the contents of the pot, and steam is still being produced, the pot is too hot.

Add about one cup of room temperature water to the pot to help absorb some of the heat. Steam coming from an empty pot is drying and can cause cracking.

Also, adding water to an empty pot makes the pot easier to clean.

If food remains in the pot.

  1. Let the food cool.
  2. If having the same food at the next meal, and there is no meat which can go rancid, I will simply leave the food in the pot with the lid on. Clay has a way of keeping leftovers fresh – without refrigeration.
  3. If the food will be going in the refrigerator, I usually put in in a glass bowl because my clay pot will be needed for other dishes. However, food can be stored in clay in the refrigerator.

Washing

Hand wash

Hand washing clay is recommended. Do not use soap – it would get into the porous clay. Most of the time, I have no sticking and simply use plain warm water.

You can also use baking soda:

  1. Wet the pot.
  2. Sprinkle with a small amount of baking soda.
  3. Scrub it around.
  4. Rinse off.

Stubborn spots or bad sticking

The inside of the clay pot has a burnt spot from accidentally letting sweet potatoes cook too long with not enough water.
The burnt spot is from accidentally letting sweet potatoes cook too long with not enough water. Most of the spot came up with baking soda. The portion that remained has gradually faded over time.
  1. Add 1-2 cups of warm water to the pot.
  2. Sprinkle with about 1/2 tsp of baking soda.
  3. Wait 5-30 minutes – or even over night.
  4. Scrub (with your clay pot scrubber) or scrape off (with the edge of a spoon or your fingernail).

Notes

  • As long as the pot is fully seasoned, you can let water sit in the pot overnight, and wash the pot in the morning.
  • Because clay is porous, water starts soaking into the walls, and this starts separating the food from the pot.
  • The discoloration may or may not immediately come off. As long as the residue is off, all is well.
  • If the spot remains, it will likely fade over time.
  • If the pot is not fully seasoned, don’t soak for too long – a water logged pot can be problematic for mold and cooking.
  • Baking soda lifts off spots and removes odors.
  • Vinegar is only used for cleaning mold. Use it straight, but quickly rub and rinse with water.
  • When cleaning a yogurt pot, do not use vinegar – it’s acidic and an alkaline environment is best for the bacteria.

Water temperature

Dairy cleans best with cold tap water. Other cooking cleans best with warm tap water.

Pot scrubbers

Loofah sponge inside clay pot
I use a loofah sponge to clean my clay pot.

Use a pot scrubber that is solely dedicated to your clay pot. It needs to be abrasive enough, yet not too abrasive. Miriam prefers natural scrubbers with natural clay pots – such as gourd loofahs. However, sometimes she uses a hand held to use a dish brush with strong nylon bristles.

See the tiny orange chip of clay in the middle left? I don’t store my pot on metal any more, and I’m also careful there is nothing around my pot which can potentially chip it.

Drying

Pot drying upside down on a dish towel.

I use to dry my pot upside down on my metal dish rack. I was careful to keep other items away from my pot, however, I got a few minor chips in the rim of my pot. I now lay my pot upside down on a dish towel.

Air drying

Usually all that is necessary.

When to dry with a towel

Simply air drying is fine in most cases, but if room is very humid and/or someone has cooked in the pot 2-3 hours, then wiping down with towel expedites the drying process, especially when new, and reduces or eliminate mold growth. Even when pot has been holding yogurt for a week it may be saturated with moisture, in that case wiping down expedites drying and helps with mold issues.

MEC

Stove top drying

When is it necessary?

  • The pot is water logged and you need to cook with it soon.
  • You need to store your pot for awhile and your house is humid.
  • If you pot is not completely seasoned and you will not be using it again without the next day.

Instructions:

  1. Put empty pot on the stove (no lid).
  2. Gently (on a very low setting) heat the pot for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Stop when the top rim gets warm.

Sun drying

My favorite way…. on nice sunny days, I like to put my pots outside to dry for a few hours. Miriam says the pots can take in vitamin D and impart it to the food. In the ideal house, you could keep your pots on a rolling cart, and simply wheel them outside for sunning.

Storing

Storing clay pot and lid on metal shelving unit
Storing a clay pot and lid on metal shelving unit – the towels for additional protection.

Storage tips

My clay pot drawer - pots get air on all sides and rim is protected from touching metal
Clay pots are best stored upside down with air on all sides. I’m using an expandable wire trivet lined with a pot protector. My lids are stored in an adjustable lid rack lined with an additional cloth.
  • Make sure pot is thoroughly dried before storing
  • Store with lid removed (or at least cracked).
  • Use a well ventilated place which is not too damp or too dry.
  • Have air on all sides of the pot.
  • It’s best to store pot upside down – gravity helps the pot reset from cooking?
Water pot and small clay cooking pot
Left: small clay pot being used as a water storage vessel. Right: small clay pot being stored upside down to dry out – it’s in almost constant use.
Basement storage closet - clay pots are upside down on plastic coated racks
Clay pots in basement storage closet on plastic coated racks.

Miriam has a pull out wire rack in her cabinets. It’s perfect for storing pots upside down on and getting good air circulation – a wire cookie rack or wire trivet also work.

However, Miriam says most of her pots are in constant use and rarely make it to the storage cabinet. She simply leaves them out (right side up) her her gas stove.

If necessary, the pots can be stacked one inside the other.

Storing in damp locations

Occasionally (about every 2 months), it’s also a good idea to dry your pots on the stove top at the lowest setting for 5-10 minutes or until warm to touch on the outside. For some reason, kitchens with electric burners have higher humidity levels than kitchens with gas stoves.

Storing in dry locations

Occasionally (about every month) oil the outside of your pot.

I would love to hear from you.
Scroll down to share your experiences & Wisdom.

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