Can I put my terracotta casserole dish on an electric hob?
January 2, 2010 11:07 AM   Subscribe

Can I use my new terracotta casserole dish on an electric stove top?

I just bought my first terracotta casserole dish. I think it's one of these, but with a yellow glaze (there's no glaze on the bottom). The label says it's suitable for direct flame with a heat diffusor, and for vitroceramic, but I have standard electric hobs. Can I use it on these, e.g. to brown the meat for my casserole before it goes in the oven?

As a secondary, just-out-of-interest question, I'm in the process of soaking it for 12 hours before first use as instructed on the label. Why do I have to do this for the first use only? The fact I don't have to do it before every use suggests that the initial soak will change the dish in some lasting way that will protect it for ever more, but surely it'll just dry out again?
posted by penguin pie to Food & Drink (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, and the label refers to it as a 'rice casserole'. But that might just be odd translation, as it was made in Portugal and the rest of the English on the label is slightly off-kilter.
posted by penguin pie at 11:13 AM on January 2, 2010

I don't know for sure, but I'd say no to direct heat on the electric stove. It definitely runs the risk of cracking and that would be a shame. I have a traditional Moroccan terracotta tagine and it's for oven use only. (I also only had to soak it once-- but I don't know why!)
posted by picklebird at 11:22 AM on January 2, 2010

I love my terracotta pots, and use them on a gas (lng) range with no heat diffusor, paying attention to start with a very low flame, I think you could start with a low heat and raise it after a few minutes. Keep in mind that a terracotta pot has a very high thermal capacity, meaning that -compared to a steel/aluminium pot- it will take longer to get to the desired temperature, and it will remain hot for much longer after turning off the heating.

wrt: soaking in water before the first use, I think it has to do with rehydrating the ceramic lattice (water bonds chemically with the ceramic, which is dehydrated after being fired in the kiln, which is why you only need to do it once) -- my hunch is it gets more resistent to temperature variations, but don't quote me on that.
posted by _dario at 11:40 AM on January 2, 2010

Best answer: Use a heat diffuser, or don't use it on the stove. You'll crack it.

posted by desuetude at 11:47 AM on January 2, 2010

Best answer: Another vote for no - I cracked my terracotta tagine this way (there were no instructions other than to soak it, which I did, so I naively assumed it would be ok. It was not!)
posted by schmoo at 5:13 AM on January 3, 2010

Response by poster: Thanks all, I'll keep it off the hobs and inside the oven to be safe. Now I just have to learn how to make a stew so that the vegetables also cook, not just the meat (unlike today's attempt, where the lamb was delicious but the vegetables were practically raw. Hmmm).
posted by penguin pie at 9:07 AM on January 3, 2010

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