Glazed vs. Unglazed clay pots

Posted on Feb 12, 2016

There seems to be a lot of rage lately about clay pots and cooking in clay. 100% pure clay cookware is non-toxic, not to mention the rich flavours you get to experience by cooking in clay. However, there also seems to be a very drastic distinction between glazed and unglazed clay cookware that goes opposite to anyone’s natural instinct of considering a glaze nothing more than preservation for the pots. Manufacturers of pure clay cookware say that’s not the case though and here is why.

Glazed pots can be toxic

Clay or not, when cookware is glazed, you can say goodbye to non-toxic features. Most glazes, contain alkaline bases, lead, zinc, copper, chlorine and sulphur and many, many other such poisons. The whole point of using clay cookware is to have an all-natural, healthy environment to cook your dishes, which won’t be the case anymore if you go for glazed pots.

Glazing cancels the unique properties of clay cookware

One of the most appreciated properties of clay pots and pans is that it slow cooks food like a steamer without making the food soggy. This is because the moisture and heat within a clay pot circulate during the cooking process, because the breathable nature of an unglazed pot. It’s what many chefs called “delicate” cooking. Another great thing about this type of cookware is that clay has the ability to interact with acidity levels in food and neutralize them as to ensure a good pH balance. For instance, a tomato sauce will originally be very acidic, but when cooked in a clay pot, it will take on some natural sweetness. Some people even drink coffee from clay mugs for the same reason. Glazed pots can’t provide these unique benefits.

Unglazed clay pots are the real thing

If what you are looking for is a cooking pot that ensures no toxins or metals react or leach into your food, then unglazed, pure clay cookware is the answer to your needs. Why would you even want to add glazing to that? If you’re worried about the lifespan of the pot or the bottom of your pans, then simply make sure you follow manufacturer’s instruction for proper use and care of the pots. Alternatively, you can go for clay pots with terra-sigillata finishing, which are easier to clean and use and don’t require soaking before each cooking. This is not a glaze, but a natural finishing which involves each pot being hand burnished with pure clay again.