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What is Stoneware? How is it made? Benefits?

A top view of a stoneware plate setup with copper spoon and fork.

Set aside the chinaware and take a close look at stoneware, its history, how its made, its advantages, disadvantages, its different types and cost.

When it comes to dishes, there is an array to choose from. From various colors, shapes, and sizes to what type and how much you are going to spend, there is something for everyone. Aside from the style and price of the dishes you choose, there are other factors to consider including durability, longevity, and firing temperature.

Stoneware is one of the many types of dishes you can choose from when looking for plates, bowls, etc. Most commonly found in restaurants, stoneware is popular amongst chefs, but can be a mystery to first-time dinnerware buyers. Stoneware is a type of ceramic dish that has been fired at a temperature between 2150 and 2330 degrees Fahrenheit. Thicker than porcelain and china, stoneware is sure to last a long time making it popular for restaurants.

History

There are many places stoneware was said to have originated from. However, the most well-known origin is 1400 BCE or during the Shang Dynasty in China. Depending on the area or time, the stoneware varied in color and shape. During the Han dynasty, for example, it was white and clean looking. In contrast, the Song dynasty produced beautifully and intricately shaped stoneware with feldspathic glazes.

What started in China, would eventually move to places all over the globe. In the 17th century, China began to export stoneware products to various places in Europe. The stoneware was a big hit amongst the Europeans and was used as teapots, amongst other things.

How is Stoneware Made?

A potter making pottery on a potter's wheel.

In simple terms, stoneware is made by firing clay at an extremely high temperature. Clay is molded into various shapes and is then fired at temperatures of 2,000 to 2,400 degrees Fahrenheit. The high temperatures then turn the clay into stone and the glazes on the outside into glass. The way stoneware is made makes it strong and durable. In most cases, stoneware is fine to put in the microwave. Unlike other types of pottery, stoneware evenly distributes heat, which makes it perfect for tea or coffee.

Uses

Stoneware has various uses including cooking, baking, and eating off of. Stoneware is extremely safe for cooking as it is hard and free of chemicals. However, some cheap brands may contain toxins that can get into your food. So make sure to check if the brand you are using or buying is free of these things.

Stoneware can be used for multiple things in the kitchen. Most commonly, it is used for slow cooking, baking, and serving. Due to the way that stoneware evenly distributes heat, it is perfect for baking items such as bread. Because bread needs to be cooked evenly all the way through, stoneware has been a popular choice of bread bakers and pastry chefs alike.

Pros

In terms of durability, longevity, and overall ease of use, stoneware is the best of the best. Most stoneware products are able to stand extremely hot temperatures. This is why it is perfect for people who love to use their oven. Stoneware allows heat to rise evenly and keeps items warm for longer. Making it great for individuals who like to host dinner parties or chefs who are cooking many items at once.

Most stoneware is also chip resistant. This is perfect for people who bake and entertain a lot or have a hectic kitchen, such as at a restaurant. This makes them functional for decades and a great item to pass down for generations.

Stoneware is also said to have a naturally stick-resistant surface. This saves money on oils and nonstick sprays because you will have no need for them. Over time, unglazed stoneware may develop a dark layer, but should not affect the non-stick factors.

Cons

For people who do not cook often, stoneware is not a necessity. For people who live in smaller spaces, stoneware can be quite inconvenient. These clay pieces are heavy and generally pretty bulky. This makes it harder to move and store. The weight of stoneware could also damage other dishes if not stored correctly.

Stone dishes are not as sleek as other options you may use. Stoneware may also have rougher edges given the shape and make of this particular type of pottery. This can cause stoneware to scratch surfaces such as kitchen countertops. When placing stoneware on a counter, always make sure to have a protective layer underneath.

Types of Stoneware

A set of stoneware dishes on a white surface.

When considering stoneware you should look at the various types. There are three variations to choose from unglazed, partially glazed, and glazed stoneware. Unglazed stoneware can be used to cook meats, baked goods, and even pie crusts. This particular type of stoneware will give you an evenly browned finish. Partially glazed has a clean and sleek exterior with the unfinished interior to make your meals look perfect. Glazed stoneware is perfect for dinner parties as it can be taken directly from the oven to your table. They help keep food warm and can also be put in the dishwasher.

Cost

The cost of the stoneware varies greatly. If you want to buy stoneware plates and bowls, expect to pay anywhere from $20 to $70 for a set of four. Stoneware mugs can cost between $30 and $50 for a set of four. Depending on the brand and baking dish you are buying, stoneware can cost anywhere from $25 to $200.

Where to Buy

Most major retailers sell stoneware items. Well-known cooking brands such as Pampered Chef and William-Sonoma, have entire sections of their website and store devoted to stoneware. You can even buy stoneware at online retailers such as Amazon, just be sure to check that they do not contain any toxic ingredients.

Stoneware Options

  1. White Textured Stoneware 16 Piece Dinnerware Set — Cost Plus World Market
  2. Deep Covered Baker — Pampered Chef
  3. Charcoal Element Salad Plates Set Of 4 — Cost Plus World Market
  4. Le Creuset Heritage Stoneware Rectangular Covered Casserole — William-Sonoma
  5. Gibson Home Rockaway Round Stoneware Dinnerware Set — Amazon
  6. Open Kitchen by Williams Sonoma Ceramic Pie Dish with “Baked with Love” Message — William Sonoma

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