Brazilian Clay Pots are undoubtedly one of the most significant representations of the culture of the Brazilian State of Espírito Santo. The clay pots, known as Panelas de Barro Capixaba, have been made for centuries by the indigenous people that inhabited the coastal regions long before the European colonization of Brazil began in 1500.
Originally the unglazed bowls and pots were molded by hand using black clay and mangrove tree sap which resulted in very rustic pots indeed. The pots were also fired over open fires rather than in a kiln. Today, our artisans use similar techniques and raw materials, however, they are molded to produce uniform sizes and shaped, and are kiln dried which makes them harder and more resilient.
The pots are almost a necessity to cook regional dishes such Moqueca and Bobo. They come with their own wire trivet in order to take them to the table for an exotic presentation.
How we measure
The Brazilian Clay Pots are truly rustic items, and although similar to Black Clay La Chamba Pots, they are not as smooth. As with most handmade products by artisans around the world, the pieces may have slight imperfections in the form or finish of the materials. Sometimes sizes of same model pieces may also vary slightly, however, these imperfection do not compromise the aesthetics or functionality of the pieces and are considered normal and to be expected. Likewise, although lids are made individually to match each pot, they do not always fit perfectly as the two parts may shrink differently during the firing process. The lids do not fit tightly on the rim of the pot, but more rest on top of it.
You may observe with certain use that your pieces may change in color, especially on the bottom where there is direct contact with heat. This is normal and does not affect the pieces in any way.
Brazilian Clay Pots are rather heavy and have thick walls and therefore quite sturdy and can last many years. Still, they should be handled properly and with care. The pieces can be used in the oven, in the microwave or a stovetop, and can go directly to the table for an exotic presentation. The pieces can be used directly on a gas or electric range, however, it is recommended to use a heat diffuser on electric ranges. The heat diffuser (which can be used with gas stove as well) has the added benefit of distributing the heat slowly to prevent foods from burning. Clay cookware can also be used on induction cooktops with the use of an induction cookware interface disk.
The pieces must not be submitted to drastic changes in temperature. The pieces should be allowed to adjust slowly to heat, letting them slowly heat up until they are hot, either on the stove or in the oven. Likewise, you should also allow the pieces to adjust to room temperature before washing or storing them, and never sit a hot pot on a cold surface such as granite or tile. The pieces retain heat for a long period of time, so be careful in handling a hot pot.
For cleaning, avoid using the dishwasher, hand washing is recommended. After each use, fill with warm, soapy water, allowing to soak briefly if heavily soiled, then scrubbing lightly with a sponge or soft cloth.
Do not use metal or abrasive pads as they may scratch the surface and avoid strongly scented soaps which can flavor the clay. Use wooden utensils with the pieces as metal utensils can scratch and damage the inside.
Before a Brazilian Clay Pot can be used for cooking the first time; it should be “cured”. The curing process seals the pores of the Clay and prevents from liquids to seep through.
To begin the process, rinse it well under running water to remove any dirt left over from the manufacturing or shipping process and let it dry completely, preferably overnight. Once dry, wipe it with a generous amount of oil (preferably olive oil) both inside and out including the lid using a towel of pastry brush. Put the pot on the heat and slowly bring up the heat to medium for about 5 minute.
Let the pot cool completely. Once cooled, fill the pot with plain water and put it back on the heat and let the water boil for about 10 minutes. Once again let it cool of, empty the pot and rinse it well under running water, and begin enjoying your Brazilian Clay Pot.