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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 non-metal pot-holder or trivet, dry cloth or wooden board. How about a cold stove burner? Do not put pot on cold counter or in metal sink.

If you suddenly empty the contents of the pot

Add one cup of room temperature water to the pot to help absorb some of the heat (to avoid cracks) – this also makes the pot easier to clean.

Washing

Soaking

Once cool, you may want to briefly soak your pot to make clean up easier. However, don’t soak for too long – a water logged pot can be problematic for mold and cooking.

Hand wash

Hand washing clay is recommended. Do not use soap – it would get into the porous clay. Most of the time, I simply use plain warm water.

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. You want something that’s abrasive enough, yet not too abrasive. Miriam likes to use natural scrubbers with natural clay pots – such as gourd loofahs.

Stubborn spots, burnt on black spots, or a bad case of 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. MEC says the residual will not be an issue and it will gradually fade over time.
  1. Add warm tap water.
  2. Sprinkle 1/2 tsp of baking soda on spot.
  3. Use hand to rub it into a paste.
  4. Wait 5-30 minutes – or even over night.
  5. Scrub (with your clay pot scrubber) or scrape off (with the edge of a spoon or your fingernail).

Notes

  • 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.
  • Vinegar is only used for cleaning mold.
  • When cleaning a yogurt pot, do not use vinegar – it’s acidic and an alkaline environment is best for the bacteria.
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.

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 warm sunny days, I like to put my pot outside to dry for a few hours.

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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