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Ceramic cookware question

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I have just been given a couple of pieces of ceramic cookware ... I feel like I'm asking a very silly question here, but how can I use them? I've never owned anything besides steel pots or teflon pans before. Are they special use only, or can I make everything in them that I do in my stainless steel stuff? Foods I cook often would be: rice, beans, lentils, veggies, etc. Thanks for the advice , in advance =) Much appreciated.

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  1. Exactly what sort of cookware? Commercial or "artisanal"? Clearly intended for cooking (ie, no issue of lead in the glaze) or possibly decorative?

    In general, you use ceramics for slower, lower heat cooking. Great for rice and legumes, stews, casseroles, long cooked sauces, etc. Generally not good for sauteeing, browning, other high heat techniques.

    If you mean something "high-tech" like the Corningware pans, I think you could probably use those over higher heat with reasonable success but they would never be my first choice in cookware.

    Non-cooking related issues are quick changes in temperature. Even Pyrex can shatter if you pour boiling liquid in a cold vessel or put an oven hot pan on a cold surface. For pottery-type ceramics, this is even more important. Don't put them directly into a very hot oven (put them in while the oven is coming up to heat) and start them over a low flame when using them on the stovetop.

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    1. re: MikeG

      "Even Pyrex can shatter if you pour boiling liquid in a cold vessel or put an oven hot pan on a cold surface."

      Also, pouring unheated liquid (even at room temp) into a hot ceramic cooking dish will cause it to crack and shatter, as I discovered to my horror when I once tried to deglaze a ceramic casserole dish that I'd used to roast a chicken.