Since the 1980s I’ve cherished 100% ceramic cookware. To understand why, let’s consider roasted marshmallows. Some folks like to quickly toast/scorch the outside of their marshmallows, while others carefully slow-roast their soft little pillows until the heat deeply penetrates the core, enhancing the flavor throughout and—careful now—melting the sticky goodness right off the twig.
Because metal cookware quickly absorbs and emits heat (it has high thermal conductivity), a thin metal pot is ideal for bringing liquids to a rapid boil or for stir-frying when you want the outside to quickly cook or sear. In other words, slow heat transfer is not a desired feature in a pasta pot, stock pot or wok.
Ceramics, on the other hand, have a lower thermal conductivity than metal. They slowly absorb and emit heat, and unlike metal pots, they radiate healthful far infrared energy. Ceramic cookery slowly, gently infuses the food throughout and enhances the food’s subtle flavors. To complete the marshmallow analogy, while a marshmallow would quickly scorch in a hot steel wok, in a ceramic pot you could slowly warm it into goo.
So while a pure ceramic pot is slower to heat up, once hot it evenly and gently conveys heat, making it valuable for every cooking application but flash cooking. I also favor 100% ceramic cookware because it is nonreactive and free of metals, so there’s no chance of it tainting the food with metallic or synthetic ions.
Note: So-called “ceramic” nonstick cookware is not recommended. These nonstick coatings are not a true ceramic; rather they’re a chemically based polymer that covers an inexpensive metal pan or pot. With normal use they will pit, wear and degrade and then heavy metals will leach into your food.. A few of such examples include: CeraStone Granite, Thermolon, Scanpan, Suntoza, Scanpan Titanium Ceramic Coated, Ozeri Stone Earth, Pedrini, Neoflam, Terraflavor and Happy Call.
Let’s go back to the 1980s for a second: Brown rice had then been a key dietary staple for me for 15 years. I knew its flavor. Then I had my first taste of it made in a ceramic insert, called an Ohsawa pot that nestles inside a metal pot. What a revelation. Although the difference was subtle, the rice was detectably sweeter and tenderer. I was a ceramic convert!
Traditional ceramics are most often available as dish ware (like the illustrated tureen above), vases or bakeware (like casseroles and ramekins) and valued for both their beauty and non-reactivity. However, they’re subject to cracking with sudden temperature changes.
Today there’s a new ceramic line of high temperature fired cookware backed by a 50-year performance guarantee against breakage resulting from hot or cold thermal shock. This line of moderately priced 100% ceramic cookware, produced by Ceramcor is available as both Xtrema and Mercola.
Both ceramic and earthenware pots are made from clay and non-reactive. In terms of durability, ceramics are superior to earthenware (and metal is more durable than either). And when it comes to enhancing the subtle flavors of food, earthenware is without par.
Other non-reactive choices are: CorningWare’s Visions pots are inexpensive and made of pyro-ceramic or vitro ceramic. But as these light brown pots that look like glass are poor heat conductors, they have limited applications. Another non-reactive choice is enamel, like Le Creuset.
May you be well nourished,
RebeccaThis post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a product by linking through this review, it generates a modest commission which helps maintain this site.