I'm from Mexico, and every time either my grandmother or mother bought a new clay pot, they started "healed" the clay pot by boiling water with vinegar, rub garlic on the outside of the pot, and let it rest all night long.

I recently bought a clay pot, and it released black particles into my food. I asked why, and my mother told me it was because I didn't "heal" the pot.

I thought it was ridiculous, so that made my wonder if it's truly necessary to "heal" a clay pot, and if this belief is endemic of Mexico or is it also well know in other parts of the world as well.

Hope this question isn't off topic. And if it is, feel free to flag it.

  • Anything you intend to put food into with a porous surface should be cleaned thoroughly. Boiling water in the pot will ensure that the dirt (black particles) will be released into the cleaning water first and not into your food. As far as the vinegar and garlic...I think that's just for show. – Mr. Mascaro Dec 30 '14 at 21:36
  • Hypothetically I suppose the vinegar could help to scour any deeply-embedded dirt out of the pot, since it's mildly astringent. And I suppose the garlic would enhance the aroma of whatever's cooking. But the most important factor is most certainly cleaning the pot out before use. – logophobe Dec 30 '14 at 22:08
  • I suppose my initial cleaning was not sufficient given the porous surface of the clay pot. But wouldn't that be necessary every time before cooking? Apparently the "healing" process only takes place when the pot is new, and not before each meal. – ILikeTacos Dec 30 '14 at 22:19
  • For thousands of years people have suffered with clay pots, and their associated problems. Now we have cheap glass and steel. Please use them. It adds nothing to the cooking process, and if it did you should be worried – TFD Jan 2 '15 at 21:11
  • @TFD could you elaborate more or point me to the right place to read more about associated problems with clay pots? – ILikeTacos Jan 3 '15 at 4:49

TL;DR: You should.

I don't own clay pots myself, so take this with a grain of salt. I found some information on the Bram Cookware website called Clay Cooking 101. It has recommendations as well as an instructional video.

The process apparently is called seasoning, rather than healing. Here is a short summary from the page:

Seasoning Your Clay Pot

Give your new clay pot love and it will love you back! Cookware that will be used over a direct heat source on the stovetop needs to be seasoned before its first use. This strengthens the pot and prevents it from cracking. It will also make the pot more durable so it can provide you with many years of fantastic cooking.

Now for the black particles in the food, I'm not certain what that could be; so it's probably best to play it safe and not eat the food.

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