Transitioning from toxic pots has been a math, history, and science equation all in one. During my last teen years, I threw away all of our cookware in order to motivate my mother and I to lead healthier lives. Both of us were throwing up and in intense pain from sharing a lifestyle genetic base disease that disrupted our moon cycle and overall well being. And I couldn’t shake it off that it started with not only our diet, but what we cook our food in.
Well… unfortunately I did not get to finish that journey with momma. However in my current early adulthood while carrying the title of a girl mom, I made it my mission to get back to understanding the health issues behind modern cookware. Generational fortunes start now!
What did my ancestors cook in? Was a huge question I recently searched the answers for. Having a culturally diverse background allowed me to backtrack how indigenous peoples ate, and why the benefits behind it paved the way to nutrient densed cuisines.
And that’s how clay pots beeped in my radar…
Why Is Unglazed The 1st Choice
Nature ensured Humans had the best materials for survival. In it’s purest form, clay is comprised of natural elements that is native to its surroundings. The necessary minerals we need to function are present in clay as much as trace minerals, heavy metals and other pollutants imbedded in it which is why sourcing is extremely important.
The best clays are usually near rocks, streams, volcanos, and unearthed spots around the world. Clay is extremely porus and benefits cooks by circulating the heat while cooking. Clay pots are known for nutrient preservation and gets better with continuous use. This ensures its durability qualities that may lasts for decades.
You’ll come to learn that with cooking in clay pots:
Glazed pots are not fully capable of these functions because of the barrier. The fear of heavy metal leaching are modern marketing tactics to purchase expensive cookware that wears less than a decade. Often times they are not willing to share their blend formulation and not entirely honest of the long term side effects of these chemicals.
After some time in the dark hole, you’ll learn of the side effects from propietary coating blends that leaches into our food rapidly or overtime. One of the first ways to get an understanding is studying the Teflon documentary. In a less severe case, there are natural coatings made from coconut oils, however that defeats its purpose in remineralizing food.
Quality clay contains calcium, manganese, magnesium, copper, zinc and other valuable trace minerals that are depleted in commercial whole foods. Due to its porous nature it has the ability to cook our food faster while preserving our water sensitive nutrients. It’s essentially ideal for households looking to use less oils, energy, and wish to add mineral’s into their diet. These benefits are what intrigued me the most.
Miriam’s Earthen Cookware
It surprised me to learn there were hardly any North Americsn clay pots that were unglazed. And I happen to find Miriam’s Earthen Cookware based on her knowledge of clay pot cooking. During our phone conversation, we agreed for her to send me a sample for review.
Miriam Earthen Cookware is a cookware and tableware company that makes their pots 100% by hand using unglazed, unearthed American primary clay. Primary clay, or residual clay have not been transported by glaciers, water, or other natural transport. That means the selected sites she chooses means that comes from “untouched” sources from drills to factory residues.
This was extremely important to me based on findings of high level chemical leaching in our soils. Miriam‘s achievement and dedication reduces our exposure to high levels of contaminants which exceeds my expectations.
I was pretty impressed of how far she went to collect these clays. On top of that, the brand discloses the private testing done of its quality through common heavy metal levels. The only part that’s missing are the tiny traces of heavy metals in there, but I’m personally learning more about counteracting heavy metal exposure by increasing my main minerals and trace minerals to naturally detox by cooking in this clay pot. More posts will held for further discussion and awareness.
But here’s her study using the Morgan Soil Testing method:
Upon arrival it packaged very well during its journey. I immediately spotted for:
There were no cracks, thank goodness! When purchasing a new pot, it’s important to hear a slight ting while avoiding the low, hallow pitched sounds. I tapped it and had got the noise I wanted to hear. Even though it’s a small pot, it has a sturdy thickness and weight to it that made me satisfied and confident of its cooking abilities.
Miriam Potware Care + Instructions
I want to note I did not follow her instructions as I already had my own method in seasoning.
Miriam provides particular instructions for her pot care that I wasn’t aware was unique to each brand! Due to her clay processing method, its actually encouraged to season less due to their unique techniques in clay pottery. Here were the instructions that came with the pot. I plan on purchasing a second one to see the benefits, so my apologies for those curious of this technique using Miriam’s potware.
Traditional Indian-style seasoning
My first step was to completely submerge my pot and lid in cold to room tempature water for at least 8 to 24 hours. This crucial part improves the steaming quality during cooking while preventing cracks.
I learned that clay pots are tempature sensitive so it’s important to make sure it’s not too hot or too cold otherwise I’d risk cracking.
Also look out for any bubbles that may or may not happen as it is normal In porous cookware.
As you can see my background has changed as I had to use my tub to finish the process as my tiny sink had issues keeping the water in.
I was looking for that scorching sound which is an indication of its porosity properties!
After 24 hours, it was time to wash! Because it is unglazed, using soaps is not the ideal choice in proper cleaning maintenance for porous pots. Detergents, even the natural ones, contain non-edible ingredients that can leach into our food while cooking. So instead of soap, I wanted to go as natural as possible and went with sea salt.
Metal, heavily dyed sponges, and abrasive sponges are also not ideal as I didn’t want to harshly scrape my pot. Inspired by the Indian community, I went with a coconut fiber sponge to cleanse it immediately. Not much residue came off, but I went with this step to triple make sure.
I allowed it to dry after washing and I did not experience any green mold. Whew!
For those curious as to why I’m looking for mold...
Improperly drying with little air circulation plus a warm environment can grow mold. So placing it in my room with AC with the top uncovered worked in my favor. In order to tell if it’s completely dry, the color of the pot will turn light and is cool to the touch. In my environment it took around 4 hours to dry.
Natural drying is essential to again, prevent the cracking and all that jazz. But Im not going to hold you, in order to use this pot it requires planning, mindfulness, and patience. The extensive benefits + quick cooking gives me a peace of mind though!
These ingredients are to triple ensure that I fill in the pores as much as possible and give my dish a deeper flavor profile. This is like the original glaze that cultures around the world practiced to cook their foods. Another alternative is rice, potato, or other starch waters to fill those pores in and prevent leaking, or ”sweating” ( A slower form of leaking),
I did use raw coconuts to make fatty coconut milk and of instead of discarding them this project gave me the chance to toast them inside the flakes to release the natural oils. This further seasons it!
Update October 2, 2022: Due to MEC firing technique, I learned that this step is not important as it pushes the fat out while cooking. I didn’t experience anything too odd after I continuing to use my pot for soups and stews.
Other oils that can be used are pure sesame seed, coconut oil, ghee, or goat ghee.
On a freshly dried pot, I rubbed the ghee in my hands to warm it and massaged a thin layer inside and outside my pot. I did the same for the top it came with. Afterwards, I put it in my oven facing up and preheat on my lowest settings between 10-15 minutes.
After it cooled, I made cassava water and allowed it to soak for about 1 hour then slowly cooked it on low temp for about 10 minutes. After it cooled, I did drain in the sink.
Finally, once it cooled again, I sauteed my blended coconuts to release its natural oils for a deeper seasoning until it turned golden brown. During this stage it should have picked up any remaining clay taste. Some people use onions but I don’t think I’ll be adding it to every dish so I’d stick with the coconut flavor notes.
The 2 day process can be shorter for anyone who wants to do this. Some people season it longer to ensure it’s fully coated before use. I did test Miriam’s pot to make sure there was not any leaks and it passed, there were no leaks after 30 minutes.
Traditional Tools To Cook With
Most of us know that traditional recipes call for clay pots, but what about the tools used during cooking? Most available cooking utensils can be abrasive and usually have a coating that is foreign to the body. If you decide to use coated cookware, make sure you can read the ingredient. “Food safe” is not always safe!
Anywho, I had ordered a coconut wooden shell handmade by locals of India from Amazon. I had read in Indian and African cuisine, wooden utensils has its place in respecting the sturdy texture of clay.
My wooden spoon was used for curries, stews, porridges, soups, and sautéing fresh vegetables. Sticking to modern living? Wooden utensils of your choice is best! The second choice would most likely be silicon.
Reviewing 2 recipes To use Clay Pots
So far I had made 2 meals out my clay pot and it has been amazing. The only questionable thing is the sweating part after 2 hours. Theres limited information about sweating, but I know I wouldn’t make meals that requires a long time cooking until I get more uses out of it. I will be making more frequent meals to see what happens and maybe even make some organ broth to see how that hold. Sweating is a sign of possible “holes” in there. So I’ll cook with it more.
When cooking with clay pots whether you use a stove or oven, make sure the device is turned on until the clay pot is placed in or on it. I used low temperature settings throughout my journey and noticed how it cooked my food fairly well. These soups took roughly 30 minutes or less!
It was very simple to cook and prepare my dishes. I went with a curry to see how strong the smell would be in the pot after washing it. I ended up using limes to get rid of the strong smell, but it did not impact my food at all.
Overall, this pot makes incredibly delicious meals. I‘d personally like more time with it to get the hang of cooking more side dishes in it. I love the fact I didn’t taste clay and how easy it is to clean.
What are your thoughts on clay pot-ware?
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I receive compensation if you decide to purchase through my link. Please note that my recommendations is based on experience and personal investment interests. My pot was sent to me as a gift for review, and I shared my honest opinions on it. P.s I recommend Amazon for EBT users as the items below can be purchased online with a Food Stamp discount. Thank you!