Microwave Oven Pots an – Innovation

Innovation in Microwave Oven Compatible Red Clay Pots

This is an attempt taken by Centre for Social Development to develop a new product in the series of innovations.

Red clay, the widely spread and abundant of mineral substance available in earth.  The making of pottery depends on the chemical change that takes place when clay is heated in the fire.  The hydrated silica of Alumina become anhydrates and within the harden of the vessel remains unaltered.  In preparing clay it should be added with sufficient water to become plastic into a perfectly homogeneous mass.  During the process of firing all clay shrink in volume partially through the volume of water and partly on account of increase of density.  The class of pottery cheaply in the form of bowls was actually used for domestic purposes.

The traditional pottery industry is declining very steeply due to the reason that:

  • The return received from the products sales is less and this amount could not be enough for the artisan to sustain and lead a peaceful life.
  • The consumertastes differ from person to person. Due to limited designs there is less marketability of the traditional products.
  • The tradition old techniquesare practiced by the application of the absolute machines, the products are crude, heavy and not attractive to the customers.
  • Due to drudgery of operation young generation is not willing to take up this industry as a profession.

Efforts were taken by CSD to prepare a product which is eco – friendly, cost effective, utility and brings adequate income for the artisans.  The idea of finding out value added products based on red clay as a base material was planned.  To attain this products series of experimentation and innovation has been undertaken by the CSD group.  Some important attempts can be summarized as below.

  • Fixing of different types of red clays and other minerals was undertaken to withstand the higher temperature to get a microwave oven compatible pots which could sustain in the oven.
  • The technology for processing of the raw materials  andto obtain a homogeneous clay body mix which could be utilized for fabrication of the particular product.
  • Introduction of different types of fabrication technology with the use of various machines and equipment and to fabricate qualitative products in volume.
  • To satisfy the consumer’s taste and requirements different types of products were designed to meet the multiple uses.
  • The appropriate firing of the product is important to get a quality product. Firing determines the economy of the industry. Hence electric furnace and oil fired kilns were introduced to get economy of firing and quality products.  The temperature achieved is 1120°C which is higher than the fusing temperature of the common red clay.
  • Preparation of suitableglaze over the surface of the products was arrived and applied in the article.
  • Packaging system, which is not generally practice in red clay production was introduced for easy handling and less breakage during transportation.

The salient features of red clay microwave oven pots.

1. Food Cooked In Terracotta Tastes Better

Food doesn’t react with clay like it does metal, where food takes up metal ions from the pots it is cooked in, tarnishing the flavour of the food. Flavours in the steam of the cooking liquid are absorbed into the porous clay and redistributed back into the food instead of being lost as steam escapes. Clay cooks by far infrared heat which penetrates deeper into the food, allowing salt and flavouring to penetrate deeper, allowing a full range of subtle flavours to emerge. As food generally has better flavours cooked in terracotta, less salt and other seasonings are required.

2. Food Cooked In Terracotta Is More Succulent and Could Contain Less FatClay retains moisture. A clay pot with a lid produces a sealed container, which doesn’t allow vapour to escape as it does with other cooking pots. The food can cook more in its own juices without excess liquid or fat being used. This produces fuller flavours when cooking and food remains moist. Meat especially benefits from being cooked in clay staying moist and juicy.

3. Terracotta Pots Retain NutrientsMore of the essential nutrients and vitamins are retained in foods cooked in clay pots because food cooks in a closed environment with limited liquids, and nutrients are not lost by steam escaping.

4. Cooking In Clay Reduces The Risk of Metal Poisoning In FoodsFood cooked in metal vessels such as aluminium, cast iron and stainless steel, takes up metal ions from the pots they are cooked in. We are beginning to understand the effects of long term accumulation of toxic metal ions in our bodies such as the disruption of basic metabolic function.

5. Terracotta Holds A Slow, Steady HeatAs the heat is also penetrated more evenly than in a metal cooking pot, this allows foods to cook gently and evenly. As clay produces a more efficient type of heat, foods can be cooked at lower temperatures, using less energy, which could assist in lowering energy bills.

6. Terracotta Pots Retain Heat After The Heat Source Has Been RemovedThis produces the great advantage that food taken to the table in its cooking pot will stay warmer for longer at the table. Food will continue to simmer 5-10 minutes after being removed from the heat allowing a host to prepare service of other items while foods in their clay pots will remain hot. It also reduces the need to re-heat foods, which often leads to food becoming over cooked.

7. Food Browns In Clay, Even With The Lid OnMany foods benefit from gaining a bit of colour during cooking, adding to its appeal when served at the table. Foods including stews will take on a little surface colour cooked in a terracotta pot, giving the look and taste of being cooked to perfection.

8. Terracotta Is Designed As Oven To Table CookwareTerracotta is attractive to serve food from at the table and with a range of shapes and sizes to choose from, every element of a menu can be cooked in it including starters and desserts or serving a salad or main course. The great advantage of preparing, cooking and serving from one dish is there is often a lot less washing up!

9. Terracotta Is Virtually Non-Stick,So It’s Easy To CleanTerracotta’s properties means it is virtually non- stick and performs better than non-stick surfaces in tests.Food will cook evenly and gently over a steady heat without sticking. Sometimes you will want to use your terracotta cookware to brown meat or vegetables to add colour and flavour to your dish.Cool your terracotta slowly then food particles and caramelised cooking juices can easily be removed with warm soapy water and a soft brush. Terracotta is usually safe to go in the dishwasher, but like all dishwasher safe items, it will look better for longer if hand washed. As clay is porous it may take up the strong detergents used in dishwashers. As it’s so easy to hand wash it-why not!

10. Terracotta Is VersatileItems are multifunctional so only a small amount of equipment is needed to have a functional kitchen. Use terracotta to bake, fry, braise, brown, grill and to serve hot and cold foods from. A sarten pan for instance could be used for making and serving sizzling garlic prawns, bake a creamy rice pudding in or serve a crisp and colourful salad from. You wouldn’t want to do that with your metal frying pan would you?

11. Terracotta is Strong and DurableBy following a few care guidelines Terracotta can be used confidently on most cooking mediums. Oven, hob, BBQ, Aga, and microwaves. It is freezer safe, so leftovers can easily be kept and is dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. A well looked after pot will become seasoned with use, increasing its strength and durability.

12. Terracotta Is A Renewable Natural ResourceClay is a natural resource formed in nature and is replaced by nature when we use it. (Provided we use it in a sustainable fashion of course) There are much less side effects on the earth in using clay than extracting and processing metals.