DOs & DON'Ts
I am interested in buying the Tierra Negra range of cookware. I notice that metal implements are not recommended for use but what about eating from the dinner plates with knives and forks? Will they withstand normal eating?
The surface of the tierra negra® tableware and cookware is relatively soft. It does not have a hard vitreous glaze; it has what potters call a "slip" glaze, which is basically a layer of very fine clay painted over the surface and then polished with semi-precious stones. This type of glaze allow the cookware to be used over direct heat on the hob and also in the oven, but it is not as hard as a vitreous glaze and it will last longer if wooden implements are used.
Having said that, many people (including restaurants) use metal cutlery and, although the surface will eventually tarnish, the damage caused is less noticeable with the satin black finish of the product. Using metal implements when cooking (for stirring, mixing or serving the food ) is often more abrasive and this is when we would particularly recommend the use of wooden implements such as spatulas and spoons. These are available in many cook shops, of course, and we also have some on our website (30cm wooden spatulas and tasting spoons).
Tierra negra® has a history dating back over 700 years and it is still made in the same traditional way. With the advent of vireos glazes it became less popular as tableware because the surface tarnishes more rapidly. As cookware, however, it is a very versatile product and its attractive appearance makes many people want to use it for serving on the table and as tableware.
Personally, I use it mostly for cooking and serving food but I also use many of the bowls as tableware with metal spoons. The damage caused is usually minimal and more than balanced out by the attractive appearance of the product. I do also use metal knives on the product, mostly on the trivets, which I use both as cheese boards and chopping boards. The marks caused by the knives are visible on the surface but not particularly noticeable. Perhaps it is worth mentioning that our CL 296 dinner plates where used by Nigella Lawson to serve her “lamb casserole” in one or her popular Christmas shows.
We do have spare lids but unfortunately finding one to fit a particular casserole can be very difficult. This is because every piece of tierra negra® cookware is individually hand made and each lid is made to fit a particular pot or casserole. Even if you have a round lid of a given size, you will find that they are never perfectly round and only by checking with the actual pot or casserole can we find a suitable replacement.
In our experience, the best way to find a matching spare lid (when we do not have the casserole here) is for you to draw around the edge of the old lid or somehow over the actual lip of the casserole. It has to be a real life drawing so we can try our spare lids over the drawing. Using this method, we have succeeded in many cases in finding a replacement.
The drawing should be sent to our warehouse. We charge £19.50 for this service, including packing and postage, which you can pay either on our website *LINK* or by BACS (or Faster Payment) direct to Scot Columbus, sort code 12-20-26, account 01615188, reference "Lid replacement".
Click here to purchase a spare lid.
1c Newbattle Abbey Business Park
You make several styles of casseroles...do the different shapes have any advantage for certain recipes?
Generally, soups are best prepared in a deep vessel, casseroles in a medium height vessel and rice dishes in a shallow vessel. Apart from that, because ceramic vessels take longer to heat up than metal pots and pans, round based cooking pots are best used over gas; if you have an electric, ceramic or solid fuel hob you would be better to use a flat based casserole.
I am the proud owner of 3 tierra negra® cooking pots/dishes. Whilst using the cooking pot I inadvertently let the food dry out and some stuck to the bottom of the pot.
In trying to get it clean my partner used a scourer, thus removing some of the glaze from the inside base.
When I used it again to make a curry, I used ghee to fry the meat as usual. Unfortunately the pot (and presumably because of scouring the inside), even after several washes still smells of ghee.
Is there any way to treat the pot to get rid of the ghee, or at least the smell, and is there any particular method to season tierra negra™ cookware prior to use (currently I heat the cookware and wipe the inside with cooking oil)?
As you may have realized, tierra negra® ceramics are slightly porous. This is because of the clays used in making the product, which also allow it to be used over direct heat on the hob. With the surface glaze removed, the potential absorption of liquids and suspensions will be increased and this is how the ghee will have been absorbed.
To remove the smell, I would suggest first that you apply a generous amount of washing up liquid to the inside of the pot and allow it to stand for an hour or so. Then fill the pot with hot water and gently apply a washing-up mop to the inside of the pot, before leaving it to soak overnight. Finally, rinse thoroughly with warm water and leave to dry. This should remove most of the fat from the pot. To kill any bacteria that may be causing the smell, place the pot in the oven at a high temperature (200°C or Gas Mark 6) for 20 minutes and then allow to cool before storing.
Because of the porosity of tierra negra® products, it is very important to ensure that they are thoroughly dried before being put away in storage, especially if the storage area is unventilated. This is because of the risk of mould developing, should mould spores be present in the storage area. Generally, for moulds to grow, both water and some form of organic food material are necessary. Thorough washing should remove most food materials and thorough drying (either on a dish rack in a well-ventilated area or through heating in an oven) will remove any moisture.
You may have observed, if you have washed your tierra negra® dishes by hand, that they appear to dry very rapidly when placed on a drying rack. This is because much of the water is absorbed within the body of the dish, rather than evaporating. For this reason it is important to leave the dishes to dry in a well-ventilated area (or to heat them in the oven) before storing them away.
What I have suggested above should remove the smell but if it persists you could try using a sterilizing solution such as Milton.
On the question of seasoning, placing the vessel in the oven, three-quarters full with water, and then leaving for 30 minutes at 200°C, is the usual method. This usually seals the cookware, although a better seal is achieved after it has been used several times for cooking. Boiling milk in the vessel will help if it is still found to be too porous.
What happens if you are out when a delivery is attempted?
The courier will leave a card with instructions on how to contact them. If you gave a mobile phone number when you placed your order, you will also receive a text message. You should then contact the courier by phone or by logging onto their website.
You will need to give the tracking number for your delivery; this will have been sent by the courier to the e-mail address you provided when you made your order. Note that if you have asked for the delivery to be made to someone at a different address, the tracking number will have been sent to the e-mail address you provided for this person.
You can arrange for a second attempted delivery, but note that if you ask for an early delivery or delivery to an address with a different post code, you may have to pay an additional charge. You can also go to the local depot operated by the courier to collect the parcel yourself but you should check their opening hours before doing so.
If you do not contact the couriers within 5 working days of the first attempted delivery, your order will automatically be returned to us at an additional cost of £13.50. We regret that in this case we will have to pass on this additional charge as well as a further £4.50 if redelivery is required.