Cooking & Care – How to cook in Miriams Earthen Cookware

Lara, a nutritionist in New York City, said this after using MEC for the first time: “I just finished cooking with your pot for the first time. It was fantastic. I am not someone who is good in the kitchen, but your directions are very clear, and the process felt very natural...”

MEC pots are made using the best skill + technology available today. They are sturdy, and well built, made with you, the cook, in mind. With proper use & care, and the right amount of heat -- low to medium-low -- they can last a very long time!

Only low to medium-low heat is needed because MEC is an excellent retainer of heat (they are made that way), and all the heat given to it stays inside and cooks, taking about the same time as conventional cookware, sometimes faster, and most definitely healthier!

Seasoning Instructions for MEC

SEASONING YOUR POTS/PANS:
1. Thoroughly rinse the pot/pan and lid in the sink, fill the pot/pan 1/4 way up with water, and set it aside for 5-10 minutes.
2. In that time, in a small cup or bowl combine 1 Tbsp. of any flour (arrowroot, wheat, whole wheat, rice, all purpose) with 1 cup of water. For Large and X-Large pot, use 2 Tbsp. of flour. [You can also add 1/4 tsp. turmeric — optional]
3. Now wipe the bottom of your pot/pan and set it on the stove. Start stove on low heat, then after 5 minutes increase heat to medium-low and add the flour mixture.
4. Cook till it thickens to a broth (avg. 25-35 mins). Turn stove off, open lid, and let the broth cool down (30 mins or so).
5. Using a wooden spoon, spoon the broth onto the inside walls of the pot, coating the walls. Pour the broth out, then wash and rinse the pot (no need to leave any residue or coating). Now you can start cooking!

[If grain free, use 1 Tbsp. of cooking oil instead of flour (you can use olive, coconut, or sesame seed oil -- no animal fat). Cover and cook for 30 mins or till you see a steady steam build up in the pot, then turn stove off.]

Helpful Tip: Apply some cooking oil to the outside walls of the pot and lid with your hands after seasoning. This lets it develop a uniform patina as it ages. Do not apply oil to the bottom of the pot/pan.

Seasoning your Yogurt Pot and Sprouting/Fermenting Pot is optional and Gardening pot/pan does not need to be seasoned.

Seasoning Clay Pots and Pans

 

SEASONING YOUR CUPS & BOWLS:

1. Rinse thoroughly and soak the bowls in water in the sink or a large bowl.
2. Add 1 Tbsp. of cooking oil (olive, coconut, or sesame seed oil -- no animal fat) to the water and stir and rub the oil with the water onto the bowls.
3. Remove after soaking for 30-40 minutes, drip dry and wipe them down with a soft cotton towel. Let them air dry. You can start using them right after.

 

SEASONING YOUR GRIDDLE:

Seasoning a griddle is simple & easy, here’s how:
1. Soak the griddle in water for 30 minutes, then drain and wipe the griddle dry.
2. Take 2-3. Tbsp. of oil (olive, coconut, or sesame seed oil -- no animal fat) and apply with hands on the surface of the griddle (both sides).
3. Set aside and set the oven to 250 degrees F.
4. Put the griddle in the oven and warm it for 20-25 minutes.
5. Turn the oven off; allow the griddle to cool in the oven. Your griddle is now seasoned and can be used right after!

After seasoning, we recommend soaking the griddle for 10 minutes in water before each oven use.

COOKING WITH MEC

MEC can prepare a wide variety of healthy meals for your home, including (but not limited to): rice & grains, soups & stews, curries, steamed vegetables, casseroles, cooked beans & lentils, stir-fry, chilis, jams, roasted/braised meats, herbal teas, and even homemade yogurt -- all in one pot!* By following these few simple steps you can have cookware/bakeware that lasts for a long time cooking non-toxic, nutritious, delicious food for you:

On the Stovetop: The unique heat management features in MEC's 100% primary clay pots makes them excellent retainers of heat, so it is important to give the pot only as much heat as it needs to cook your food:- all recipes cook beautifully on just low heat  (setting 3 on a scale of 1-10). If your pot/pan is more then 1/2 full with ingredients, you can increase to medium-low, or 4 after cooking on 'low' for a few minutes. Avoid medium or higher than medium settings. When new, they need some additional time, in about 5-6 uses they cook faster and take about the same time as conventional pots.

[If the pot/pan is repeatedly subjected to high amounts of heat than what it needs to cook your food, instead of indiscriminately throwing that heat onto the food, these pots may form a crack to release that excess heat. So remember to keep heat between low and medium-low!]

With Electric/Glass/Coil Cooktops: For the first few uses (5-7 uses), you may turn the heat up to medium settings -- or slightly past medium, if pot is more than half-full, after cooking for 5 minutes on low. However, as the pot becomes accustomed to cooking on lower heat with multiple uses, you do not need to go past medium-low.

After the initial seasoning continue using them so they can get "Fully Seasoned": After the first seasoning use it as often as possible (preferably every day) for a few times cooking water based recipes.  Use it at least 4-5 times in this way before putting it away, if you have to. Water based recipes include making rice, quinoa, soups, stews, lentils, pasta, steaming vegetables, cooking lentils etc. This helps the pot to shrink slightly and become 'fully seasoned'.

Cooking non-meat/vegetarian recipes while the pot is getting 'fully seasoned' is recommended. After this you can then cook both vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes in them.

If You Have a Glass/Ceramic Cooktop, Keep These Points in Mind:

  • For a heat diffuser, we recommend using the ILSA diffuser or the SimmerMat diffuser. In some instances, one may work better than another for your stove.
  • Cooking your meals may take 10-12 minutes longer compared to gas stoves.
  • Some ceramic/glass burners have multiple rings in a single burner (for example: one burner with a 6 inch, 8 inch, and 12 inch diameter ring). Avoid this kind of burner, because these give off too much heat regardless of the setting.
  • In rare instances, some glass/ceramic cooktops may not be compatible (much longer-than-usual cooking times or foul smell emitted) with a particular heat diffuser. In this instance, first try a different diffuser. If this still does not work, then it might be worth investing in a hot plate or a portable gas stove for cooking.

In the Oven -- Recommended max temperature is 450 Degrees Fahrenheit. Start in a cold oven or 250 Degree Fahrenheit and increase to the desired temperature after 5-10 minutes.

A heat diffuser is required for cooking on electric stoves (both glass/ceramic and coil cooktops). Using a heat diffuser is not necessary with gas stoves but is recommended if slow cooking for several hours (bone broth).

*Deep frying not recommended in MEC.

Some Things That Are Done Differently in MEC

Here are some differences to keep in mind when cooking with MEC, when compared to conventional cookware:

Making Scrambled/Fried Eggs

Make sure your MEC pan is "fully seasoned" (5-6 back-to-back uses when new) first, to ensure the eggs do not stick. Instead of using oil, sprinkle a little bit of water in the pan before adding eggs. Cook the eggs with the lid on. Turn the stove off before the eggs are fully done -- this will ensure the heat does not overcook the eggs or scorch the pan bottom.

Making French Toast

Make sure the pan is "fully seasoned" before making french toast (5-6 uses back-to-back after initial seasoning process). Preheat the pan for a few minutes before adding your french toast to the pan. Prepare the french toast with the lid covered. Use oil as needed.

GOOD TO KNOW:

Cook-Time: The more it’s used the faster it’ll cook your food, all on medium heat or less!

For Best Results:  Use separate pot for making yogurt, one for teas/coffee & other herbal decoctions, all other types of cooking can be done in the same pot. Using separate pots for vegetarian and Non-vegetarian cooking is optional.

Wooden Spoons go well with our cookware.

Naturally Non-stick; Can Cook Using Little to No Oil: Most of the steam/moisture & oils in the food remain in the pot so a lot of times little to no additional oil/liquids are required.  Also, by the time your pot is fully seasoned, it is also naturally non-stick.

No Need to Wait for Water to Boil Before Adding Food: With metal pots, food usually gets mushy if it sits in water for some time, followed by heavy boiling. With MEC, food cooks without the water coming to a boil, so you can add ingredients right after adding water to the pot -- no need to wait for water to come to a boil first. This applies to instances like cooking rice and other grains like quinoa, oatmeal, & teff, as well as steaming vegetables and boiling eggs or potatoes. For highly glutenous or starchy foods like pasta, it's a good idea to wait for water to steam for 5 minutes before adding the pasta.

Handles are Coil-Compressed While Cookware is Being Made: The firm-grip rim going around the circumference of the pot/pan/griddle is a specially designed handle to provide a easy handling, access from all sides, chip resistant design. Read more here: MEC's unique handle design explained

Getting Black on the Bottom: With use, the bottom of your pot will become black or gray.  This is WILL NOT affect the functioning. It happens as a result of a normal oxidation process as would happen with any 100% organic matter like wood, stone etc. (when heat is applied).

Small Cracks Forming on the Bottom: If your MEC pots, pans, or other products begin to form cracks, this is indicative that your pot may be receiving too much heat, or it is receiving uneven, sporadic heat. You can read more about this here: trymec.us/cracks

Slight Buzzing/Popping Noise: You may hear a slight buzzing/cracking sound emitting from the lid, especially with newly fired earthenware. This sound will disappear with time and it is simply a natural settling of the clay that occurs after temperature changes.

Avoid Dry or Oil Sauté Until Pot is ‘Fully Seasoned': Don’t dry sauté or in oil sauté spices or onions till fully seasoned. You can do this after the pots are fully seasoned. When sautéing onions or spices in oil, do so for just a few minutes (less time than metals), with lid on.  They get cooked much faster in MEC.

While your pot/pan is in the process of getting fully seasoned, a pot that is holding a lot of water may precipitate some of the water to the exterior of the pot: Avoid storing a pot filled with water. Additionally, avoid pre-soaking ingredients in MEC — your ingredients will cook just as well with no soaking beforehand because of MEC’s earthen far-infrared heat is deep penetrating, cooking thoroughly and quickly even without pre-soaking. If need be, soak ingredients in a separate glass bowl.

Avoid Sudden, Extreme Temperature Changes: Example: If taking out of the freezer/very cold refrigerator, let it come to room temperature before putting it on the stove for reheating and vice-versa.

Sit Hot Pots on pads, trivet or a wooden board.

Stovetop & Oven-safe: For use on gas and electric cooktops, in the Oven, Solar Ovens, outdoor grills, wood-fired stoves etc. Can also be used on slow cookers/crock machines if they fit inside with 1/4 space on all sides and if manufacturer permits the use of other inserts.

Refrigerator Safe: Let the pot cool down to room temperature before putting it in the refrigerator.

When Slow Cooking: Use your pot for slow cooking for several hours of cooking once it's used at least a few times (4-5 times) for cooking recipes that take less than an hour of cooking.  All slow cooker recipes can be done in a maximum of 2 to 3 hours (example: one recipe that takes the longest time - beef bone broth cooks in 2.5 hours in the X-large pot, 6 qt). No need to cook the food for 12 to 15 hours anymore!

Always use a diffuser when slow cooking with your pot. Click here for more detailed instruction for using MEC pots as a slow cooker.

Are Excellent for Passive Cooking: Food passively cooks with the heat retention capability of MEC: once a meal is about 3/4 done, you can turn the stove off and let the meal finish cooking without the stove/oven being on. This saves both energy costs and the environment!

CLEANING:

Although dishwasher safe, hand washing is recommended. They’re easy to clean because of their non-stick properties. Avoid using soap. To wash, wet the pot under water then sprinkle baking soda, scrub and rinse off.
Rarely, if food gets stuck to the bottom or gets burnt, add 1-2 cups of warm water to the pot, sprinkle baking soda and let it sit for 10 minutes, then scrub and rinse off. Use a metal spoon to gently scrape off any burnt food if necessary. Avoid using a metal—steel or aluminum scrubber. A scrubbing brush is fine to use.

For detailed cleaning instructions and information on how to clean your pot after making cooking mistakes, read this FAQ: How To Clean MEC Pots

STORAGE:

Store with the lid off and in a well-ventilated place, preferably in a place with exposure to sunlight or daylight.  Avoid storing in closed or damp areas (like inside cabinets). Occasionally (once every 2 months), it's also a good idea to dry your pots on the stove top at the lowest setting for 5-10 minutes or until the rim is warm to touch.


Seasoning, Use, & Care for MEC Water Jar

Seasoning Instructions:

  1. Wet and rinse the pot out thoroughly (inside, outside, & lid).
  2. Fill it halfway up with water; let it rest for one day — you may want to leave a towel to collect the dripping water in the bottom.
  3. Pour the water out after one day, or the following morning.
  4. You can now fill your now-seasoned jar with fresh water. Your water will be ready for consumption in 30 minutes, or once you see droplets forming uniformly on the lower bottom of the pot (as shown in the picture below).

MEC Water Jars -- Natures best water cooling and purification system

If placing your jar on the counter, depending on the impurities in the water, you may see a good amount of dripping -- place a plate or vessel underneath to collect that water. If you can get a plant stand at any local home improvement store, you can place your pot on the stand and the elevation will help the water collecting on the outside to evaporate as opposed to dripping down. If your water is clean, you may not experience a lot of dripping.

If you live in a hard water area, you will see white deposits on the outside of your water jar. This is normal and does not affect the functionality of your jar.

Cleaning Recommendation:

You can clean your MEC Water Jar once every 6-7 days. If you see a lot of toxic deposits collecting on the outside before 6 days have elapsed, then you can clean the jar sooner.

Serving Instructions:

Serve water with a cup ladle, or a US measuring cup, or even by dipping your cup into the pot. If using a cup ladle or US measuring cup, you can leave it inverted over the knob of the lid for use anytime.

 

Naturally Purifying water MEC Clay Water Jars
Naturally Purifying MEC Clay Water Jar


For more information on using  MEC cookware as a  Rice cooker, Slow cooker, Dutch Oven, Yogurt maker, Bread baker, please click on the respective links.

And finally, we know that although clay pot cooking is the most time-tested, healthiest & safest way of cooking, 100% natural clay cookware might be a new concept to some, and we want to assure you that we are here to help with any questions you might have while getting to know and cooking in this amazingly healthy way! Email Us with any questions you might have and we’ll get back to you right away.

Please feel free to refer to this free guide to MEC clay cooking by Sally Zimmermann (an MEC Expert).

Happy Clay Pot Cooking. Wishing You Great Health & Taste!