How to Season a Tagine or Other Clay Pot
Tagines and other terra cotta pots need to be seasoned before use as they are prone to cracks. Seasoning a tagine not only enhances its durability by making it more crack-resistant, it also eliminates the initial clay smell, which can be quite strong. Tagines come in all kinds of sizes and are typically either conical or dome-shaped. Whichever kind you choose, it will be a special piece of cookware to cherish for a long time.
Here is how to season your clay pot in a few simple steps:
1. Immerse your terracotta pot (both the base and the lid) in water and soak it for 12 hours—overnight in a sink is a good time and place.
2. Remove the pot from water and pat it dry. Rub it with olive or vegetable oil.
3. Place the pot in a cold oven. Do not preheat the oven. Turn on the heat to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake the tagine for 3 hours. Let it cool completely. Wash and store it in a dry cool place.
A few more things:
- If you use your clay pot frequently, then seasoning it the first time is sufficient. Otherwise, re-season it occasionally.
- Avoid sudden temperature changes such as placing a hot clay pot in the fridge or on a cold stone countertop, or transferring it from the fridge to the stovetop. Allow it to come to room temperature.
- Always cook the tagine on low heat. If using an electric ceramic surface stove, be sure to use a heat diffuser. I don’t use a heat diffuser as I always cook my tagine on a gas stove over very low heat.
- Clay pots are porous and therefore absorb some of the flavors every time you use them for cooking. They retain those flavors for years even if you wash them well after cooking. It’s exactly that retention of flavors that adds a little something extra every time you cook in a tagine as opposed to other cookware.
- Gently hand wash your clay pot with a mild, preferably eco-friendly dish detergent. Rinse very well to avoid absorption of the detergent. Remember clay pots are porous.
- If baking your tagine or clay pot in the oven, do not preheat the oven.
- Use your clay pot often. The older and more used the clay pot, the tastier the food will be.
- A ll clay pots are wonderful cooking vessels, but unglazed ones yield the most flavor.
- I like to store mine on top of the refrigerator. It acts as a decorative accent when I’m not using it and stays safe from kitchen traffic accidents.