Ever since people started realizing the harmful effects of poorly built cookware, they have been going back to the past to bring back traditional cookware that are durable, safe and healthy. Nowadays, cast iron cookware is quite common in many kitchens. A similar choice that is slowly finding its way back to Indian kitchens is soapstone cookware.
What is Soap Stone Cookware?
Soapstone, also known as steatite, is a metamorphic rock rich in magnesium and boasts a large concentration of the mineral talc. Apt to its name, soapstone is hard and sturdy as a rock but has a soft surface.
But the unique composition of the material isn’t the only stunning detail about soapstone. You can use soapstone cookware for making a variety of dishes. Just like cast iron, it has excellent heat retention, which makes it an ideal choice for Indian cooking.
It serves you well for indoor as well as outdoor cooking. You can use it on the stovetop, oven, and even on the grill. Further, you can cook almost any dish in soapstone cookware. Thus, it is a versatile option without many limitations.
Related reading: Which Types of Cookware Is Best For Health?
How to Prepare Soapstone for Cooking?
Before it becomes a viable surface for you to cook on, you must cure any soapstone cookware with oil. When the oil permeates through the entire material, the cooking surface of soapstone becomes almost non-stick. The seasoning or curing process will also give your soapstone the traditional, gorgeous look that it is so famous for.
Once you are done with the curing process, your soapstone cookware will last longer and will also be easy to clean.
How to Cure Soapstone Cookware:
- Start the process by thoroughly rinsing your soapstone cookware with hot water.
- After rinsing properly, wipe it with a clean, non-abrasive cloth.
- Grease all the sides of the cookware, inner and outer, generously with your preferred vegetable or cooking oil. Make sure that you handle the oiled material carefully.
- After oiling your cookware, leave it in a dry and warm space for about 24 hours. This will allow the oil to permeate into the stone thoroughly. After 24 hours, the material should almost feel dry as the oil would be absorbed by the stone.
- Now everything is set for you to take the final step. Different types of cookware have different procedures.
- For pans, grills, or lids, you need to heat it in an oven set at 175 degree Celsius for 15 minutes. Let it cool off completely before removing from the oven.
- For jars and pots, pour room temperature water into them and heat it gradually. Keep increasing the flame of the stove to a medium-high level slowly. Allow the water to boil for at least 30 minutes before you turn the heat off. Once the water cools down, empty the vessel. Your cookware is now ready for use!
Benefits of Soapstone Cookware
Soapstone is rightly finding its way back in Indian kitchens due to its versatility and immense benefits. They are-
Soapstone cookware offers excellent heat retention and distributes heat evenly over the entire surface. Moreover, unlike cast iron cookware, soapstones don’t develop hot spots. No wonder soapstone is the perfect choice for cooking meals that require slow cooking.
Soapstone cookware is aesthetically pleasing, that it can double up as a serving platter too.
Soapstone manufacturing is a completely eco-friendly and natural process. It requires less energy for cooking and is sustainable for the environment in the long run.
After curing, soapstone cookware achieves a close to nonstick finish- a popular demand in the culinary world. This makes soapstone easier to clean and also a viable option for storing meals.
Neutralizes Acidic Food
The calcium and magnesium in the cookware slowly transfer to acidic food like curries made with tamarind and tomatoes. Thus, it reduces health issues like acid reflux and stomach burns.
Soapstone Maintenance and Safety Tips
Soapstone isn’t the kind of material that you would typically use for any other purpose. Many people thus get the dos and don’ts of its maintenance and safety wrong.
How to Clean Soapstone?
Soapstone cookware can be hand washed just like any other material. Use diluted dishwashing soap and a non-abrasive scrub to clean it. Store it away after applying a thin layer of oil.
If you have burnt residue stuck at the bottom, pour some water and boil it for a few minutes and scrape off the residue with a spatula.
Tips for Maintenance
- Make sure that you allow your soapstone cookware to cool to room temperature before you clean. Sudden temperature variation may result in cracks in the cookware.
- Use only diluted dishwashing soap.
- Reapply oil after using dish soap or detergent.
- Make sure that you cure soapstone before using it the first time.
- Make sure you use a heat diffuser on electric cooktops to prevent thermal shock.
- Use potholders to handle hot soapstone cookware.
- Take care not to hit the edges of the cookware on hard surfaces as it could break.
Soapstone is a great, sustainable alternative for passionate cooks. It offers a kind of an antique look to your kitchen. Moreover, it is quite practical too.
If you are looking to invest in a new set of safe and healthy cookware, soapstone is something that you should definitely consider.