Ceramic cookware with its glazed finish can add to the décor of any kitchen. The brightly colored and beautifully decorated ceramic pots and pans look absolutely stunning. But the point is, can you safely cook in ceramic cookware? Although, it is often touted as eco-friendly and microwave safe, there are certainly some safety hazards associated with them. However, before you rubbish them as useless, let me tell you that there are some areas where it scores over metal cookware.
Pros and Cons
Ceramic cookware basically comes in two forms, clay-based and enamel-based. Clay based is lightweight and easy to use. Hence, it is preferred by many chefs and homemakers. However, this type of ceramic ware is prone to chipping and breakage. Thus, if you wish to have durable cookware sets, you may go for enamel-based cookware. This type of ceramic cookware is manufactured by coating an enamel on a metal body, usually cast iron. The enamel used is mostly porcelain, which is actually molten glass powder. The ceramic cookware is finished with a porcelain glaze. This type of cookware is very durable and resistant to high temperatures, chipping, and breaking. Due to the metal body inside, this type of cookware is often bulky than its clay-based counterpart.
The safety issue regarding the ceramic cookware, originates from porcelain glaze. It often contains small amounts of lead. During the process of glazing, lead is sealed in the first firing itself. This is a safe practice as the sealed lead has little potential to induce harmful health problems. However, if the process is not completed correctly, the lead does not get sealed. As a result, the lead leaches out of the glaze and gets mixed with your food during cooking. This accounts for slow lead poisoning which can be tremendously harmful to your health in the long run. Often chipping or cracking of the ceramic cookware exposes your food to lead, by coming in direct contact with the contents of the glaze.
However, one advantage of ceramic cookware over metal pots and pans is that food can be safely stored in it. The surface of the metal cookware often reacts with acids in the food. Thus, if you store food in it, you are left with a metallic taste in your mouth. Iron, copper, and stainless steel are the metals that are unsafe for storing food. Even the most popular stainless steel cookware has a coating of tin, which can interfere with the food and bring about certain undesirable chemical reactions. On the other hand, the nonporous structure of ceramic cookware offers little scope for the contents of the cookware to combine with the food. Thus, its dangers are minimized if you use them only to store cooked food. Additionally, it can be safely cleaned in a dishwasher, which is not the case with metal cookware like stainless steel, which requires you to clean it with hands using a hot soap solution.
How to Buy Ceramic Cookware
Ceramic cookware should be always bought from reputed manufacturers. Look out for the 'lead free' label on the cookware and always opt for one. Ceramic cookware from foreign manufacturers is best avoided. If you must, only buy it to adorn the crockery cabinet of your kitchen. Also, buy the right-sized pots and pans for your kitchen. The bottom of the cookware should fit the size of your burner. A margin of 1 inch is acceptable. Always check the cookware for chips or signs of withering. Compare the various reviews, and select the one that offers maximum safety.
Thus, ceramic cookware has more aesthetic value than utility. However, if you go for safer options, you can avail utility along with aesthetic value. This might be an expensive option, but then nothing is worth more than your health.