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Purple Clay Cookers


Kerry Beal
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A fellow eG'er and I were out at the Pacific Mall in Markham today. Of course both being obsessed with food we spent most of our time looking at housewares and groceries.

A recurring theme in the housewares stores were purple clay everythings - rice cookers, slow cookers, soup kettles, steamers and even herbal kettles.

By the time I had seen these a few times I had to ask what was so special about them. The fellow seemed to feel that the clay had some special properties that caused it to make rice that tasted so much better than rice cooked in any other material.

So has anyone used any of these cookers? Are they really as amazing as he says?

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A fellow eG'er and I were out at the Pacific Mall in Markham today.  Of course both being obsessed with food we spent most of our time looking at housewares and groceries.

A recurring theme in the housewares stores were purple clay everythings - rice cookers, slow cookers, soup kettles, steamers and even herbal kettles.

By the time I had seen these a few times I had to ask what was so special about them. The fellow seemed to feel that the clay had some special properties that caused it to make rice that tasted so much better than rice cooked in any other material.

So has anyone used any of these cookers?  Are they really as amazing as he says?

I don't have experience with those cookers but I do have extensive experience with clay.

"Purple Clay"is more commonly known as Yixing clay, which is famous for its use in unglazed small tea pots that are decorated sculpturally.

The minerals in the clay deposits of that region result in the dark colors of this clay. I don't think the clay has special properties per say. What is important in the culture of this clay in cooking ware is that it be left unglazed (esp on the inside of the cooking vessel). With the clay being unglazed, it leaves itself susceptible to being imbued with the flavors of what you habitually cook in it. For example- Yixing teapots are never washed, as the buildup of fragrance from the tea is prized by its owners (never mind the oxidation that is likely occurring in the same flavors).

I suspect industrious thinking is trying to extend the Yixing teapot to all other styles of cooking. I could see how this would be nice with rice cookers- esp for fragrant varieties of rice. The clay cooking vessel would ensure an even distribution of heat and good heat retention, and the fragrance of the rice would build up (over years) in the clay vessel.

flavor floozy

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