Pictured Above: Example of clay pot that some might consider good for food use, but in reality is only approved for decorative purposes. Melissa Guerra carries this bean pot in her San Antonio Mexican marketplace only, not available for sale on website. (SKU 25288 $10.95) Always check labels before buying clay cookware.
Many people doubt the excellence of a good, classic clay bean pot. Frankly, some consider them a bad investment, as clay cooking pots are fragile, can chip easily, and must be cured before using.
Don’t forget, long before metal pots were widely available, clay pots were the most common cooking pots available in households. Clay is basically baked mud, and mud is in abundance worldwide. Our ancestors used clay pots as they were inexpensive, abundant in every community, and easily replaced if they broke. With the onset of the Industrial Age, metal pots eventually took the place of clay pots in modern kitchens, but many homes in non-industrialized communities throughout Latin America still use mainly clay pots.
Here in the U.S., however, many chefs and home enthusiasts are rediscovering the clay cooking pot, especially when it comes to slow cooking beans or stews. Metal pots are very heat efficient, and transfer heat very rapidly to whatever they are cooking. Clay pots are slow cookers, which allow the flavors to slowly marry, and luxuriate.
Most chefs know that ingredients and cookware are the main elements in a successful recipe. Clay cookware provides incredibly texture, and better developed flavors to dishes that require long cooking times. Experiment with making beans in a clay cooking pot, and you will discover why using a clay pot to cook beans is the artisan chef’s choice.
Cracking, chipping or breakage do occur with clay cookware, however, just remember that even the most expensive clayware is costs less than most stainless or aluminum cookware. Personally, I have had the same Spanish bean pot for over 6 years, and even though it has a small chip, I use it at least once a week. That’s 312 uses so far, and it’s still going strong!
As an added bonus, clay pots are biodegradable, making them a type of truly green cookware.