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flameware clay

updated thu 25 jul 02


Rob Van Rens on wed 24 jul 02

>I know too that they must be fairly available in Italy since one of my
>cookbooks (Marcella Hazan) refers to placing the earthenware frying pan on
>the burner. Perhaps Francoise you could ask your supplier what is needed in
>general to make such a flameproof clay since it does not seem to be
>available in North America.

A quick search on Google using the keywords "Flameware" "Clay", and
"Supplies" turned up at least one supplier of moist or dry flameware clay

Seattle Pottery Supply
35 South Hanford
Seattle, WA 98134
(206) 587-0570
Toll Free (800) 522-1975
Fax (206) 587-0373
Fax Toll Free (888) 587-0373

Info copied from their website.

A very little research (one search engine, reading only the first page of
hits) shows that there are others, as well; I just copied the first and most
obvious one.

Now, I will digress. Read on if you dare.

For what it's worth, I have a saucepan made from heavily grogged red
stoneware, with UNGLAZED exterior walls about 2 cm thick...the lip and
interior are covered with a thick, dark very glossy glaze that looks like
chocolate syrup.

When I purchased it, I asked the maker about it (long before I had done any
pottery myself). He said that the clay was nothing special, just a high
thermal-shock resistant stoneware (ask your clay supplier)...glaze was ugly,
but resistant to thermal stresses and wouldn't leach anything into the

Anyway, I've used the thing pretty regualrly for about two years now. I
don't put it on the stove wet, and I don't put it one the stove empty. I've
boiled veggies in it, and it's the best pan I've _ever_ found for cooking
tomato sauce...for those of you who know about cookware, this is even better
than Le Creuset stuff. And once you turn the flame off, it'll keep the food
hot for about an hour, longer if covered.

It doesn't heat up fast. I know for a fact that earthenware frying pans are
possible...there literally dozens of historical examples, including written
recipes specifying earthen pans over metal ones. I also own an Italian
terra cotta bean pot...very nicely shaped, not nearly as thick as the
handmade saucepan. It holds about 3 quarts. It, too, is unglazed on the
outside, although the interior is glazed with a clear glaze. It, too, works
beautifully, though I rarely use it to cook 3 quarts of beans. If you're
going to simmer bones for stock, though, it's beautiful.

I have also used a very large ceramic vessel in brewing. Again, unglazed
exterior (do you see a pattern emerging?). it was set over a wood fire, and
it was nice because the earthenware provided a very steady, even heat
without the temp spikes associatee with metal vessels. It was relatively
fragile, and we were careful never to heat it empty, but for brewing, which
involves long periods of holding at specific heats for starch conversion,
protein breaks, and enzyme denaturing, it was the best I've ever seen (and
I've worked as a professional brewer)

Anyway, anecdotal experience. And now I'm thinking about ordering a couple
of bags of flameware clay and throwing myself a big-a**ed brewkettle, just
to see if I can.

If it works, I'll happily provide brew for any clayarters in the DC area who
happen to stop by.

Robert Van Rens, Workshop Coordinator
Otto Kroeger Associates
703-591-6284, x110 Phone
703-591-8338 Fax