Tag Archives: ceramic

Ceramic & Glass Dinnerware & Bakeware Brand Information

I know, I know, THIS is the ceramic blog you’ve all been impatiently waiting for! Enough with the boring stuff, tell me what brands to buy!! 😛

As with everything I write about, personal preference trumps all! This is what I have seen, heard, and learned. Someone could have had the completely opposite experience. What matters is that the brand you buy has good customer service and normally delivers quality product. Please leave comments, email me, etc. and let me know your experience – good or bad – with a different line of products not listed here.

Vintage Pyrex
Vintage Pyrex

Let me put it another way; ANY brand can have a manufacturing defect, even the fancy ones. However, a reputable manufacturer (and for that matter, a reputable sales outlet) will replace these easily and at no cost to you. For years I helped what I thought were persnickity snobs examine their dinnerware piece by piece, and so I became a ninja at spotting the tiniest of imperfections. Some of these are super ridiculous, like, on the bottom of the plate?? Seriously? Or a tiny pinhole nobody would notice. But sometimes the color has a flaw – maybe the bowls got too close to each other during the glaze phase and they didn’t get a full coating. 99.9% of imperfections don’t matter, technically, because the pieces have been heated and it won’t do you any physical harm. But I know what really matters, and it’s what it LOOKS LIKE! 🙂 So when I bought my own Fiesta dinnerware, you bet your bottom I was ninja inspecting every single piece! Even the bottoms! 🙂 (Which is the perk of buying “open stock” versus sets. This will always vary by store, but most stores do not offer open stock, FYI.)

A good website to find discontinued dinnerware pieces is Replacements, Ltd.

Sonoma (TAG) Dinnerware & Other Inexpensive Ceramic Brands

Tag Sonoma dinnerware
Tag Sonoma dinnerware

This is some really good looking stuff, and I think it’s similar in both price and quality to stuff you’d find at Target or Bed, Bath & Beyond, store brands or something by Rachel Ray. These brands all usually have really cute prints, particularly for holidays or something. Sonoma dinnerware is nice because it’s in that price range but they keep making it, versus it being a seasonal item for the big box stores. The company also has pretty darn good quality control and I very rarely had off-color pieces come through the store I worked at. The downfall of any of these less expensive brands is that although they are dishwasher safe, they are not safe from your dishwasher and are prone to chipping in there. You can be pretty much guaranteed that the inexpensive brands are all going to be made in China.

I want to take a moment to say that while I call these ceramics “inexpensive”, I don’t make a ton of money and by no means do I think that ANY ceramics are that inexpensive unless you can find them on clearance! But compared to the brands not manufactured in China, Sonoma & Rachel Ray are cheaper.

Rachel Ray dinnerware
Rachel Ray dinnerware

My first ceramic set of dinnerware was made for Target, and had really fun Hawaiian prints on them. One year later, handwashing only, mind you, I had one bowl left from a 16-piece set. It was 50% off when I bought it, but still very expensive to me at that time in my life, so I honestly expected it to last longer based on the price. I still have that one bowl, and it’s my “junk” bowl that I don’t care about what happens to it, so it goes in the microwave and dishwasher. It has crazing all over it, and a chip on the rim.

Waechtersbach Dinnerware

"You are special today" plate
“You are special today” plate

Some people only know this brand as the “Red Plate Dinnerware” because they are pretty infamous for their “You Are Special Today” line of goodies. Others know them as the easier to remember name “Fun Factory“. Their Fun Factory line is a delightfully bright-colored line of dinnerware that is the most commonly found in the US of all the lines they manufacture. All of their ceramics are made in Germany and are the next level of sturdiness up from Sonoma and other inexpensive ceramic brands.

Waechtersbach dinnerware
Waechtersbach dinnerware

Waechtersbach dinnerware holds up a lot longer in the dishwasher, but are not exempt from chipping if the situation is just right. However, I had a roommate who collected all red Fun Factory dishes at thrift stores and we had one of those little junky dishwashers that you had to roll over to the sink and hook it up to run it…let’s just say the number of roommates in the house and the fact that this couple was older and had a history of many more roommates…I cannot believe these dishes lasted in the dishwasher, especially the way we crammed everything in there. So they are tough, for sure!!

The Fun Factory dinnerware is microwave and dishwasher safe, but not all of their lines are microwave safe so make sure you read the label! The red glaze in Waechtersbach does get pretty warm in the microwave, so beware!

Chantal Bakeware

Chantal Make and Take bakeware
Chantal Make and Take bakeware

Chantal makes a really nice line of bakeware that is oven, microwave, dishwasher and freezer safe. It is really easy to clean up and very durable. They are not a very well-known company, but most people own at least one of their ceramic pie plates and don’t even know it! They revamped their designs a few years ago, changed the colors to be a tad more bold, and offer handles that are easier to actually grip. The coolest thing is their Make and Take line of bakeware offers a silicone gasket seal that is removable around the lid. This makes it very easy to transport these pieces without worrying about spillage, or for marinating something in the refrigerator. The silicone is BPA free, dishwasher safe, and oven safe up to 425 degrees. You can also write on the ceramic surface of the Make and Take with a permanent marker and it will wash off with warm, soapy water, making it easy to label your potluck recipes and get your bakeware back!

Le Creuset Dinnerware and Bakeware

Le Creuset dinnerware

Le Creuset is probably in-line with or another step above Waechtersbach durability-wise. Neither are single-fire, but both are high-fire lines of ceramic making them a lot more durable. I have not personally sold or used the dinnerware, but I do own a few pieces of the bakeware, and it cleans up like a dream! All of their stoneware is made in France and comes with a limited warranty. All pieces are microwave, oven, broiler, freezer and dishwasher safe. Yes, you can put your soup bowl in the oven! Le Creuset stoneware can go to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

Le Creuset stoneware molds, just like their cast iron molds, are broken after the dish is created. Therefore they consider each piece to be unique and hand-made, meaning what you might see as a slight imperfection is just part of it’s uniqueness. They expect slight variances from piece to piece.

Emile Henry Dinnerware and Bakeware

Emile Henry dinnerware and bakeware
Emile Henry dinnerware and bakeware

Emile Henry is made in France, and as mentioned in a previous blog, does not utilize glazes to color their pieces, but naturally occurring metal oxides. A lot of people enjoy their dinnerware because while colored on the outside, the bowls, mugs and bakeware are white on the interior so you can still have that whiteware presentation for your meals while still including very bold colors.

Emile Henry is high-fire, meaning it only goes in the kiln once at a very high temperature, making it the strongest ceramic! In fact, not only can it also go in the freezer, it can actually go from the freezer directly to your oven, AS LONG AS YOU WARM IT UP WITH THE OVEN. Emily Henry is of course microwave and dishwasher safe, and cleans up beautifully, as well.

Fiesta Dinnerware and Bakeware

A lot of people call Fiesta “Fiestaware” which is incorrect, although by Googling it that wouldn’t be the case. Since most people don’t differentiate you will find a lot of links and images labeled “Fiestaware” but there are actually companies that have manufactured Spanish-looking ceramics that they call “Fiestaware”, like this set:

Fiestaware – not Fiesta dinnerware!

Fiesta dinnerware and bakeware, like Emile Henry, is high-fire. Microwave, oven, dishwasher and freezer safe, it can go freezer to oven AS LONG AS YOU WARM IT UP WITH THE OVEN. (Sorry, I cannot stress that enough!) Cleans up really easily, and the best part, it’s made in the USA by the Homer-Loughlin Company.

Fiesta dinnerware
Fiesta dinnerware

People who are familiar with very old Fiesta dinnerware and bakeware might bring up lead concerns, however, it is has been lead free since 1986. They cannot make the claim of 100% lead free because all ceramics have trace amounts of lead in their raw materials that are tested and deemed appropriate levels.

temp-tations Dinnerware & Bakeware

From all of the complaining I have heard, I think temp-tations is the Made in China, affordable option to Le Creuset, Emile Henry, & Fiesta. It is high fire, so it can go freezer to oven (warm up with the oven!!), and is microwave and dishwasher safe. It cleans up very easily and the patterns are really pretty. The bakeware pieces are great because a lot of them serve multiple purposes as both bake- and serveware.

temp-tations dinnerware
temp-tations dinnerware

However, despite their claims that production hasn’t changed at all, customer satisfaction seems to be declining. Their customer service sounds extremely reputable, though, so you will be able to get your damaged or badly painted items replaced without any trouble, but I wouldn’t want to risk that hassle to begin with, personally. I have been gifted a few pieces and like I said, cute prints and easy cleanup – no troubles in the dishwasher! However, of the two sets I was given, the pattern was supposed to be the same and they are completely different shades of orange. They are not things I will ever use side-by-

temp-tations bakeware
temp-tations bakeware

side, and on clearance, so I can live with that!

One great thing temp-tations bakeware does offer that is seemingly unique at the moment are ceramic muffin and mini muffin pans. I did find a generic ceramic muffin pan at Cost Plus World Market, but other than that nothing else has populated in my online searches!

10 Strawberry Street Dinnerware

10 Strawberry Street dinnerware
10 Strawberry Street dinnerware

I am unable to find supporting evidence, but I think that 10 Strawberry Street was bought out by another company. I recall it disappearing from all the higher-end stores for a time, and now I’m seeing it at Target and Walmart in my online searches. Their website is for wholesalers, but their “About Me” says that “Ten Strawberry Street currently manufactures and imports dinnerware, glassware, flatware and serve ware from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, China, Thailand, Poland, Germany and Belgium.” I know it was very popular and customers were very disappointed when they couldn’t find it anymore. It is porcelain dinnerware, meaning it’s extremely durable, and their “Basic” line is the most popular for food service. Since they have allegedly changed hands over the years, I don’t want to give any false hope, but their former reputation speaks highly of their durability.

BIA Cordon Bleu Dinnerware and Bakeware

BIA ceramic ramekins
BIA ceramic ramekins

BIA Cordon Bleu is another line of white porcelain, and of course being porcelain, it’s also highly durable and used widely in the food service industry. A lot of stores will at least sell their serveware and white bakeware if they don’t sell the actual dinnerware.

Like 10 Strawberry Street, BIA is a wholesaler that has a variety of products made in different countries. They do carry a few French lines; they also carry some colored ceramic lines and distribute Danesco kitchen gadgets, as well. Most of the generic white ceramics you buy are probably made by BIA and you didn’t even realize it, like ramekins, for instance.

Deruta Italian Ceramics

Deruta hand-painted designs
Deruta hand-painted designs

Deruta is the city in Italy that is famous for majolica, a type of tin-glazed pottery, that has been in creation since before the Renaissance. Deruta still produces handmade, hand-painted ceramics you can buy today. With the exception of their dinnerware needing to be stamped to ensure uniformity, the rest of their pieces are all hand-painted by artists and signed on the bottom by the person who painted the piece. I can’t find much use and care advice on their page, but an importer recommends they are only dishwasher safe on the “china” setting if you have one, or else a very light wash setting. Avoid abrasive scrubs and cleansers, and do not put in the microwave or oven. I think this is due to another claim that extreme temperature changes will cause crazing, which of course doesn’t hurt the piece, it just doesn’t look great. Deruta’s site claims that they will last generations if handled properly, however, and says they are very sturdy.

Sur la Table carries a line of Deruta-Style Dinnerware that is crafted in Italy exclusively for them that’s a little more affordable than the other stuff, but it’s still pretty expensive.

Corelle, CorningWare, & Pyrex

CorningWare stovetop baker in a modern print
CorningWare stovetop baker in a modern print

Corning, Inc. (Corning Glass Works), were the American manufacturers of Corelle, Corningware, and Pyrex  until they sold the majority interest of their consumer production lines to World Kitchen in 1998. Corning is and always has been known for the strength and durability of its unique glass products. I can’t find any specific information regarding whether any of these are still made in the US or not. World Kitchen‘s website says they produce in the US, Canada, and the Asia-Pacific region. On other web resources (that aren’t 100% reliable so I’m not linking to them), I am finding claims that certain lines or certain pieces of Corelle and CorningWare are still made in the USA, but you have to check carefully. The CorningWare Wikipedia entry leads me to believe that in 2001 when two US factories were closed we may have lost our American manufacturing of Corelle & CorningWare. Maybe the pieces we’re finding still made here are just leftovers? You can email their Customer Service and ask, or possibly the packaging will let you know where it’s made.

Corning does still have a its homebase in Corning, New York and still manufactures things, however, they primarily focus on screens for electronics, laboratory glass, and telecommunications fiber optic cable and hardware. You can visit the Corning Museum of Glass to learn about over 35 centuries of glass and even make your own glass while you are there!

Corelle dinnerware
Corelle dinnerware

Corelle is a tempered glass product that’s composition allows it to be lighter and thinner than most ceramic products. It’s still the same stuff they’ve been producing since 1970, so everyone in my family at least used to own Corelle. Like my family, I know many people who have the story about that one person in their family that managed to break a Corelle dish, despite the numerous other times they were dropped! Corelle dinnerware is both microwave and dishwasher safe, and there are no edges so you don’t have to worry about scratching if you stack your dinnerware. I plan to supplement my Fiesta dinnerware with some Corelle in the very near future! It’s a very great price for something that will last forever.

CorningWare bakeware - NOT stovetop safe!!
CorningWare bakeware – NOT stovetop safe!!

CorningWare is a unique pyroceramic glass cookware that is very unique in that it could go directly on the stovetop. Unfortunately they removed CorningWare from the market in the late 90s. A company in France called Pyroflam (distributed by ARC International) is the only manufacturer of vitroceramics in the world and they create a line for CorningWare, now. The lids cannot go directly on a burner or over an open flame, it must be on the base because it is not vitroceramic glass. World Kitchen also manufactures ceramics that are NOT stovetop safe, so I would assume that’s why the removed the burner image from their original logo. Make sure you read the label and instructions before buying the wrong thing!

Pyrex is now tempered glass and is actually still made in the USA and according to this customer service announcement, and despite it no longer being made of borosilicate glass, it is still safe to use. Because people have experienced exploding Pyrex, there have been rumors floating around that this occurs because of the tempered soda-lime glass now used, but as I said, that article as well as the Consumer Product Safety Commission and other sources say it’s safe. As with everything, make sure you read the use and care instructions.

Pyrex glass bakeware
Pyrex glass bakeware

Pyrex’s video guide says not to use it in the broiler (despite many Pinterest recipes telling you otherwise – don’t believe everything you read!), make sure you put a little liquid under anything if the whole pan isn’t covered (like meat versus making a casserole, make sure there is liquid under the meat), preheat the oven, and use a cloth potholder – don’t put it on the stove burners, a metal trivet or a cold counter. I would say make sure the pan is room temperature if you’ve refrigerated something to bake later because just like ceramic, extreme temperature changes are not good for glass either. As with the Corelle, I know many people who have the story of that one person in their family that manages to blow up Pyrex, and we all assume by their personalities that it was probably their fault despite their claims of it being otherwise!


There are many brands of glass dinnerware and bakeware, and since we’ve talked about how ceramic becomes glass, it makes sense to fit glass in here, especially since Pyrex comes from Corning, Inc. with its ceramic cousins. Glass is always going to be more durable than ceramic, however, it shows scratching much worse than ceramic does. However, like ceramic, it sounds like there are ways to remove these scratches if you wanted to. I have a few colored glass plates that are really fun, but boy are they scratched! I am most familiar with brands like Libbey, ARC International, and Anchor Hocking and they are all very reputable and affordable options.

Anchor Hocking Oneida glass dinnerware

Ceramic Dinnerware and Bakeware Basics

Buying Ceramic Dinnerware and Bakeware

Buying Ceramic Dinnerware and Bakeware

There are a few different things to consider when purchasing new ceramic dinnerware or bakeware, and I’ve also included some use and care advice to help you out.

Choosing Durability

Ceramics can be expensive, and usually the inexpensive ones will end up needing to be replaced constantly, so I’m a believer in spending more for better quality and that it will actually last a lifetime.

This is me standing on a Fiesta dinner plate as demonstrated to me by the Fiesta rep I met once.
This is me standing on a Fiesta dinner plate as demonstrated to me by the Fiesta rep I met once.

As mentioned in the “Ceramic Dinnerware and Bakeware Basics” blog, durability comes from how the ceramic is made. Depending on how many times the piece was fired during its creation is a huge factor – the less (at higher temps) is better.

This butter dish knob broke  off easily; super glue did the trick since I don't eat off of it.
This butter dish knob broke 
off easily; super glue did the trick since I don’t eat off of it.

What also matters is the design – having thin edges or connecting pieces might be an indicator that it will chip. Imagine the piece lightly bumping into another piece in your dishwasher – edge to edge. Do you think it would stand up in this situation, or crack? The less edges the piece has the better, too. Bowls are a great example of this – does the base of the piece have a protruding edge? Just something else that could get chipped.

Click here to watch my Ceramic Edge Test video.

Choosing Colors

Le Creuset dinnerware set
Le Creuset dinnerware set

Colors can be fun until you put food on them, then all of a sudden the fun colors make your food look not so appetizing. I have a friend who gave up a cobalt blue loaf pan simply because she made mac and cheese in it and it looked inedible to her! There’s a reason why restaurants use whiteware; there’s also a reason why food judges always rate chefs on their “plating” – this is taught in culinary school, I kid you not!

Also to consider with color is what scratching will look like (see more about scratching on ceramic below). Cobalt blue is notorious for showing marks very well and customers were always returning it with complaints. I have the “Sunflower” color in Fiesta dinnerware, and while all of the different colored plates show a small amount of scratching, the yellow really looks unappealing.

Choosing a Brand

You want to do some research and make sure the brand you choose is going to be around for a long time, producing the same product lines, and also the same color choices, otherwise you won’t be able to replace or add to your collection in the future.

Fiesta dinnerware color options
Fiesta dinnerware color options

Fiesta dinnerware actually claim they never discontinue pieces because the pattern has remained the same for decades, only the colors have changed (or rather, “retired“). This might not make a person who buys all one color happy if their color gets discontinued!! You should be able to find information on at least quality vendors about when a pattern came out or how often they discontinue colors, etc. if you do enough research.

Read about individual ceramic and glass brand names.

Use and Care

Emile Henry dinnerware and bakeware
Emile Henry dinnerware and bakeware

Make sure to check to see if the dinnerware or bakeware you’re selecting is dishwasher and microwave safe. Generally all ceramics are, however, the claim that it is safe for the dishwasher doesn’t mean it’s safe FROM your dishwasher. I load all of my ceramic bowls with dishwasher-safe plastic pieces in between them to avoid them bumping each other while being cleaned. I also find that if a piece of bakeware has buildup on it, just like cookware, it’s probably just going to get baked on harder inside of the dishwasher and not come out clean.

As mentioned in the “Basics” blog, different elements exist within different color dyes that are used on ceramics. Different elements react differently when heated in a microwave; for instance, reds get hotter than any other color because of the lead contained in the glaze. It’s not harmful to you as a user, but it does react to the heat!

Not all ceramics can handle the same temperature ranges, so be sure to check the instructions or label of the piece in question. You can really only assume bakeware is good to 350 degrees Fahrenheit; anything higher you would want to be sure you check first. Some of the sturdier brands go as high as 480 degrees, but I’ve never seen one that is OK to use on “broil”.

Le Creuset cast iron oven and three different bakers. Don't mix them up and put the bakeware on the stove!
Le Creuset cast iron oven and three different bakers. Don’t mix them up and put the bakeware on the stove!

Be wary of Pinterest recipes and other things you read online. Like with anything  you read on the internet, not everyone’s an expert. (Not even me! I double-check myself constantly and will always update my blogs accordingly, however.) Two different casserole recipes I randomly found on Pinterest and tried asked me to put in my “oven safe” bakeware and then crank them up to 500 or broil and  told me not to worry, it was fine. Luckily both times I realized my stupidity and turned the oven back down quickly enough.

When an item says it is “freezer to oven” safe, they mean they want you to warm it up with the oven. Don’t EVER put cold ceramic in a hot oven, let them come to temperature together! (Same goes for a pizza stone!) Extreme temperature changes are a major cause of cracking and crazing with ceramics.

Ceramics are never stovetop safe (with the exception of CorningWare’s stovetop safe line), so be careful when you are using brands that create both cookware and bakeware. I’ll never forget the poor gal who tried returning her Le Creuset baker because it cracked on the stove! It had a lovely electric burner ring stain on the three pieces it had become and we were not able to replace it for her because that wasn’t proper use – she thought all Le Creuset was safe for the stove. 🙁

CorningWare stovetop baker in a modern print
CorningWare stovetop baker in a modern print

Surface Scratching

Scratching on ceramic is normally caused by two different things.

1. Flatware scratching: This is inevitable unless you do all of your cutting on a different surface. The metal from your flatware leaves unsightly marks on lighter colored porcelain and ceramics. There are various cleaning products you can purchase that they say will remove these marks, but I have never personally tried any of them.

2. Ceramic-on-ceramic scratching: This occurs when you stack your ceramics, more commonly with plates. Generally the base of a piece of ceramic has a ring that is not glazed and also a little rough to the touch. When you pull one dish out, it lightly scrapes against the other item it’s stacked against, causing a scratch. These scratches can actually be deeper and worse than flatware scratches.

Ceramic-on-ceramic scratching can be avoided by purchasing ceramics with less edging, sanding down  your unfinished edges, or storing them in a plate rack versus stacking them.

Plate rack storage to avoid surface scratching.
Plate rack storage to avoid surface scratching.

I created a guide for you, which includes a quick video on how to sand your ceramics without sandpaper, using other pieces of dinnerware. You can also use a lower number grit sandpaper.

Check out How to Sand Your Ceramic Dishes and Bakeware by Your Ultimate Kitchen on Snapguide.

You can use the bottom of two similar-sized pieces to sand each other.
You can use the bottom of two similar-sized pieces to sand each other.

Back to Ceramic and Dinnerware Basics

Forward to Ceramic & Glass Dinnerware & Bakeware Brands

Ceramic Dinnerware & Bakeware Basics

Some of this information was already in my “Clay & Terra Cotta Cookware” blog, but we’ll go into more detail here. Some people might be surprised or confused that dinnerware and bakeware are being lumped together, but the same properties exist among any items made from ceramic, and certain companies make both. The only difference is the shape they form them into!

Emily Henry dinnerware, bakeware, and stovetop
 collections are all made from the same clay!

So first, some ceramic basics.

Clay, when fired, becomes crystalline, like glass. Therefore, ceramic dinnerware and bakeware is no different than purchasing glass dinnerware and bakeware. Meaning it’s non-porous (unless chipped!) and environmentally friendly.


Le Creuset dinnerware set

Earthenware is non-porcelain, clay-based pottery that is porous after being fired. It can be made out of a variety of different clays and can be glazed. Terra Cotta is a type of earthenware made from clay and therefore it is also porous after being fired, but is never glazed. Ceramic is made from clay in the form of kaolin but sometimes other materials are mixed in, as well. It is always glazed and often colored. Most ceramics are crystalline, meaning they act like glass. Porcelain is made from clay and other materials fired at high temperatures, and is the most glass-like of all the varieties of ceramics. It is often referred to as China or Fine China since that is where its production originated. Stoneware is ceramic that has been fired once at a higher temperature and is considered to be even stronger than porcelain.

Confused yet? 😛 Again, ceramic is like glass, non-porous and strong.


Different manufacturers utilize different glazes to create the colors on their ceramics. A few vendors even use natural ways to color their wares; Emile Henry uses metal oxides (naturally occurring) to create their colors. As I mentioned, ceramics are non-porous so you wouldn’t have to worry about anything in the colors leaching out into your food, but I suppose if you were still using chipped ceramics you would have to consider the glazes at that point. Most inexpensive ceramics made in China also contain glaze made in China, however, if a piece is manufactured in one country does not guarantee that the glaze also came from the same country, so do your homework if this matters to you!

Fiesta dinnerware colors!

Every color has different elements within it, so you’d have to know your pigment chemistry to focus your concerns properly. For instance, red dyes have the most lead in them, yellows can have cadmium, and blues can contain cobalt. Most people are only concerned with lead, so know that all items are lead tested before they are able to be sold in the United States, which means anything you are buying off the shelf is considered within safe levels. You shouldn’t be using cracked or chipped ceramics, however, so this shouldn’t be a concern. It is against food safety regulation to eat off of cracked dinnerware because bacteria can grow in cracks, so always send your food back if you receive it on something chipped or cracked! (Chipped or cracked glassware is just plain unsafe – you don’t want to cut yourself! Send it back.) Chipped ceramic will also get much hotter in the microwave, as will anything with more lead in the glaze. Yes, your favorite red mug really does get hotter than your white one, you’re not crazy!

Cracking Versus Crazing

This plate is cracked!

Cracking is when an object breaks into two or more pieces under stress, while crazing is the phenomenon that happens before cracking. Crazing looks like a network of cracks, usually within the glaze. You can feel a crack if you run your finger over it, while you cannot actually feel the crazing if you were to do the same.

This bowl has crazing.

You can still utilize dinnerware or bakeware that has crazing, you just want to be extra careful with it because sometimes bumping it hard in the affected area will cause it to actually crack. Other times, the ceramic will never actually crack and you can use it for ages, which makes sense because crazing can actually increases the strength of the piece…ah, science! Crazing is caused by flaws in production (less expensive pieces made by machines with low quality control will craze easily) or excessive stress on the piece (using it at higher temperatures than recommended).

Making Strong Ceramic Pieces

What makes one brand of ceramic better than another? Ceramics that don’t have a lot of extra edges or have smoother, thicker edges are more likely to last longer, like Fiesta dinnerware. The less edges there are, the less chance they have to chip! Pieces that have to be added on later, like handles and knobs, can be very fragile because of how thin they can be and difficult to “attach”, so be cautious. How many coffee mugs do you own with broken handles?!?

Fiesta has thick and almost non-existent edges making it very hard to break.

Companies that reuse their molds for too long will start losing the quality control in their production. Think about it – the molds the ceramics are created in go in and out of the kilns repeatedly, breaking down over time. Le Creuset actually destroys their molds after each firing so each piece is unique and considered to be hand-crafted. (The same goes for their cast iron!)

Le Creuset stoneware

I’ve mentioned molds going in-and-out of the kiln repeatedly, but didn’t talk about how the ceramics themselves sometimes do, too. The more something has to go into the kiln like this, the more brittle it becomes. As stated in the definitions section above, stoneware and porcelain are created at higher temperatures, which makes them stronger because they didn’t have to go in-and-out as often as others might have. Fiesta dinnerware and Emile Henry are both “high-fire” meaning they only go in once at an extremely high temperature. This is the strongest ceramic dinnerware and bakeware you will find, but the other stoneware is very strong, too.

More details about “Buying Ceramic Dinnerware and Bakeware

More details about “Ceramic & Glass Dinnerware & Bakeware Brands

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dishwasher

I will admit to you that a lot of issues with kitchen wares arise out of putting them in the dishwasher. I grew up without a dishwasher, so I’m pretty great at hand washing them and don’t have an issue doing them that way. I’m also pretty fast at it so it doesn’t take up hours of my day. 

sexist_dishwasher_adI have used dishwashers since then. I’ve known people to have lovely looking dishes come out of theirs. I’ve lived with people who bought cheap dishwasher soap that didn’t work and had nightmarish issues with them at jobs. But now that I understand them a little bit more, how various products react in them, and have been using one in my own home a little more regularly – I have learned to stop worrying and love using my dishwasher!

The Basics:

  • Don’t put things in the dishwasher that aren’t dishwasher safe. They usually say that for a reason.
    • Cheap plastics leach BPA, some ceramics aren’t strong enough to handle bumping each other with the shaking motion of the washer, and certain finishes can’t handle the harsh environment, etc.
  • Pans on the bottom, plastic on the top. Some items will specify they are top-rack only. The heating element in the dishwasher is on the bottom, so this is to keep the item away from the heat.
  • Do not lay knives down on the top rack! If they don’t fit in the utensil holder, hand wash them.
  • Wood does not ever go in the dishwasher. (Epicurean brand can because it’s a special compressed wood that is dishwasher safe.)

Dishwashers get EXTREMELY hot, so that’s the reason a lot of items can’t go in them in the first place. They are the problem with plastic leaching BPA, so if you don’t have a dishwasher you really don’t need to worry about it. Plastic baby bottles are almost never dishwasher safe and unfortunately a lot of parents try putting them in on “sanitize mode” which is usually the hottest setting on the dishwasher. Not a good idea!

Notice the heating element is in the center of the inside of the machine.
Notice the heating element is in the center of the inside of the machine.

I have overcome this issue by sticking to the lower-level settings on my dishwasher. I have a couple of settings above “normal wash” and I have never touched them. If you have anything dirtier than that it’s not even worth trying in the dishwasher, in my opinion. Whatever is stuck to the pan will just get baked on inside of the machine.

Which brings me my next tip – turn off the “heated dry” setting if your dishwasher allows you to. This is just a waste of electricity (in my opinion!) that literally just bakes the dishes after they are washed, so if anything is still stuck to them, it just got baked on harder. The dishes are hot and usually still moist anyway if you do use it, so what I do is turn it off and when the wash cycle is over I just open it up and pull the racks out so they can air-dry. The plastic storage stuff doesn’t seem to dry well so I pull them out and put them in the counter dish rack to dry. Of course this is easiest when done later in the evening so they can dry overnight.

dishwasherYour dishwasher shakes. A lot. Think about your dishes getting bumped around into each other inside of that thing for an hour while it runs. This is why ceramic dishes chip in the dishwasher, because they bump edges with each other. Same with your nonstick finish, if something is bumping into it in the same spot over and over – chipping. I worry about my ceramic bowls even though I put them on the top shelf and they are a really good brand name, so I put the dishwasher safe plastic items between all of the ceramic items to try to avoid them bumping into each other.

The worst is if you put your sharp knives flat on the top rack – they shake and cut into the plastic rungs. This is what causes  your flatware to rust, when the plastic coating is exposed inside of your dishwasher. You can sometimes remove this staining with Barkeeper’s Friend but usually you will end up having to replace all of your flatware and also replacing the racks inside of your dishwasher, which is very costly.

As I already said, if my pans are really dirty, I just resolve to hand washing them. I let them soak overnight and wash them with any other items I have that are not dishwasher safe.  Sometimes you can get away with scrubbing the pan with a dish brush or a scrub sponge and getting all the big stuff off of it so it is dishwasher-ready, however. I pretty much end up cleaning them first if I do this because if anything is stuck to the pan, it will be baked on in the dishwasher, usually. And if it does come out this way, dirty, resign yourself to hand washing them at that point – putting them in for another dishwasher cycle will not get it off!

happy-lady-with-dishwasherMy motto is, “If you love it, hand wash it,” so even a lot of the things I own that are dishwasher safe – I still hand wash. Some items I will throw in the dishwasher every now and again and it’s not the end of the world, but some little thing will happen that reminds me that I do indeed love it and I better wash it by hand next time. And actually, sometimes putting your stainless steel Kitchen Aid mixer bowl or stainless pot in the machine actually helps bring back its luster – just not every time so I only do it every handful of uses. One of my dearest kitchen store friend (and mentor) had the best saying about dishwashers: “It’s called a dishwasher for a reason. It’s not a pots and pans washer. It’s not a glassware washer.” So keep that in mind when putting items other than dishes in that machine, even if it does have special settings for those other things.

Speaking of glassware, I don’t put anything with a painted design in the dishwasher, nor any stemware. If you have really inexpensive, sturdy stemware like Libbey, that will probably hold up. Anything shaped like a martini glass is just asking to break because of the bumping. Luckily most stemware is too tall for most dishwashers unless you purchase one that has specific glassware settings. Use at your own risk! I find that the glassware tends to come out with a teensy bit of spotting, but maybe that’s because I don’t steam clean them afterwards with the “heated dry” setting!

If you just can’t stand to hand wash, make sure you read the labels of what you’re buying and avoid items that aren’t dishwasher safe. There are still kitchen items that you cannot find dishwasher safe, and I’m sorry, you’re just either going to have to not use it, hand wash it, or buy really cheap so you can afford to keep replacing it because you put it in the dishwasher anyway. 😛 (Meat tenderizer is the item I know you can’t find as dishwasher safe. Even the OXO one can’t go in there – it’s a kind of metal that will oxidize. All the generic metal meat tenderizers I have seen are the same kind of metal so there must be a reason for it.)

Cascade Complete Pac
Cascade Complete Pac

My last tip will be on dishwasher detergent. The only thing I have found to work almost all the time are the Cascade dishwasher pacs. They now make a few different versions of this, and I find the Cascade Complete work the best. (Although now there is a “platinum” version I will have to try!)

Just use your best judgement, and the dishwasher can be a great help in your kitchen without costing you a fortune in replacement costs if you’re smart about how you utilize it. Of course spending the extra money for more durable kitchen wares always helps, but clearly we can’t always afford that. So the Dollar Tree items…those get hand washed in my house. 😉

And remember…if you love it, hand wash it!

Leave dishes to air dry, like this!
Leave dishes to air dry, like this!

Happy Cleaning! 🙂

Read more about My Favorite Cleaning Gadgets.

Clay & Terra Cotta Cookware

Emile Henry Flame Top Brasier

Anything ceramic/stoneware/terra cotta/earthenware being sold as sturdy cookware should be high-fired. This means when it’s being made, it is put in the oven once at a really high temperature, versus being pulled in and out several times like how most ceramics are made*. Doing this causes a piece of stoneware to become more brittle so it won’t hold up as long. A high-fire piece is going to be a heck of a lot stronger and can handle the stove top and oven. Since this cookware is just clay, the heat will distribute evenly, just like a stainless clad pan!

Emile Henry and Piral are the brands I am most familiar with. Since it is sold as an “all-natural” cookware, the colors (at least in these brands) are actually derived from metal oxides, not dyes, which are naturally occurring. These companies make a lot of dutch oven style pots, so they’re a great alternative to a heavy cast iron dutch oven. I always tell people to pick up the pan, then imagine it full of food. Can you carry it? If not, clay is probably the better option!

Natural cookware like this will generally require special care, so read your instructions! Cookware like Piral asks you to soak it before just the first use and to utilize a heat diffuser on electric stoves. Emile Henry also has seasoning instructions before first use, which are kind of funny. You boil a layer of milk and immediately turn the heat off and let it cool. Emile Henry will also start producing what look like hairline cracks inside the piece over time. Completely normal, and actually most cookware in this category will warn you of natural flaws that will occur!

Piral Cookware

If you are cooking with unsealed clay, you will need to soak the piece, usually for 15-20 minutes. The water turns to steam and keeps the food really moist, so these are really great for roasting meat! Generally, clay is only for oven use and is a bit more fragile than the ceramic cookware mentioned above. Clay cookware can be really inexpensive or really expensive like the Romertopf brand that I remember selling a lot of during the holiday season.

Sealed cookware like Emile Henry and Piral are going to be a bit more costly than clay, but are backed by warranty periods, which I think is amazing for something that seems like it should be so fragile.

Click here to return to “Buying Cookware” to compare to other types of cookware! 

*Read about “Ceramic Dinnerware and Bakeware Basics

*Read about “Ceramic & Glass Dinnerware Brands

*Read about “Buying Ceramic Dinnerware and Bakeware