Among the various types of kitchenware, ceramic serveware stands out as a timeless choice that blends functionality with aesthetic appeal. The unique charm of ceramic pieces—ranging from rustic earthenware to sleek, modern designs—adds a touch of elegance to any dining table.
However, the beauty and longevity of these ceramic pieces largely depend on adequate usage and care. The porous nature of ceramics, coupled with their susceptibility to temperature changes, requires a mindful approach to maintenance. Proper care ensures that your ceramic serveware continues to adorn your table for years and retains its functionality and safety for everyday use.
Understanding the composition and characteristics of ceramic serveware is crucial to maintaining its beauty and durability. Typically made from clay, ceramic serveware undergoes a firing process at high temperatures to attain its strength and relatively impermeable surface. Despite this strength, ceramics are still prone to chipping, cracking, and staining if not properly handled.
The care routine for ceramic items isn’t overly complex, but it does require regular attention and adherence to specific guidelines to prevent damage and extend the life of your serveware. Read on for some tips on maintaining the beauty and durability of your serveware.
1. Gentle Cleaning
Abrasive scrubbing tools and strong cleaning products could damage or wear away the glaze. It’s essential to use a gentle sponge and a mild cleaning agent when washing and rinsing thoroughly with warm water to remove soap residue.
Many ceramic tableware pieces are dishwasher-safe. However, you must consider these factors to properly care for these ceramics:
- Manufacturer Guidelines: Always check the manufacturer instructions or labels on the ceramic tableware. Most manufacturers will specify whether their products are dishwasher safe.
- Glaze Quality: The quality of the glaze on ceramic tableware plays a significant role in its dishwasher safety. A high-quality glaze will prevent water absorption and protect the ceramic from high temperatures and harsh detergents in dishwashers.
- Temperature Setting: If your ceramic tableware is dishwasher-safe, use a gentle cycle and a lower temperature setting if available. Extreme heat can sometimes cause cracking or crazing (fine cracks in the glaze) in ceramics.
- Loading The Dishwasher: Place your ceramic serving bowls and platters in the dishwasher with adequate space in between. Doing so prevents chipping and cracking caused by the pieces knocking against each other during the wash cycle.
- Frequency Of Dishwashing: Even if ceramics have a dishwasher-safe label, frequent washing in a dishwasher may eventually wear down the glaze, especially in the case of hand-painted or intricately designed pieces.
Furthermore, you must also be cautious with vintage, antique, or handmade ceramics, as they may not withstand the rigors of a dishwasher. These items often do not have the same level of heat and chemical resistance as modern mass-produced ceramics.
2. Avoiding Thermal Shock
Ceramics are sensitive to rapid temperature changes. For this reason, avoid transferring your serveware directly from the refrigerator to a hot oven or vice versa. Allow it to reach room temperature before exposing it to extreme heat or cold.
3. Proper Storage
Store ceramic tableware in cupboards or shelves. Organise them with a metal or wooden plate rack, as this allows you to easily get pieces out without having to move them all.
For special ceramics that aren’t in regular use, store them in a cool, dry place. Stack them carefully with cushioning layers of cloth or paper in between to prevent scratching and chipping. Hanging or displaying them on shelves can also be an effective way to store and showcase your pieces.
4. Handling With Care
As strong as ceramic tableware is, it is still prone to breakage upon impact or improper handling. Hence, you must always lift and carry your serveware by the base rather than the handles or edges, as these are more prone to damage. Likewise, you must also avoid dropping or knocking your ceramics against hard surfaces.
5. Microwave Use
Check if your serveware is labeled as microwave-safe. This label means the ceramic has been tested and found safe for microwave use. It indicates that the ceramic will not absorb microwave energy, which could lead to overheating and potential damage.
Items with metallic paint or trim (like gold or silver rims) should not be used in the microwave. Metal can spark and cause a fire when microwaved.
Meanwhile, poorly glazed ceramics can absorb water, which might lead to cracking when heated in a microwave due to the thermal expansion of the absorbed water.
Older or antique ceramics—which might not be made with the same technology as modern ceramics—could be more susceptible to damage in the microwave. Additionally, ceramics with any existing cracks or chips should also be avoided, as the microwave can exacerbate these flaws.
While many ceramics are safe for microwave use, it’s crucial to check for a microwave-safe label and be mindful of any metallic accents or existing damage. If you’re in doubt, it’s safer to avoid microwaving the item or to consult the manufacturer’s guidelines.
6. Treating Stains And Odours
To remove stains or odours, soak the ceramic in a mixture of warm water and baking soda for a few hours and then wash as usual. For persistent stains, a paste of baking soda and water can be applied and left to sit before washing.
7. Repairing Chips And Cracks
If your ceramic serveware does chip or crack, assess if it’s safe to repair. For repairing minor chips, food-safe epoxy can be used. However, for larger cracks or damage affecting the usability, it’s best to repurpose the item decoratively.
Aside from the above, polishing and buffing may also help maintain the glossy finish of glazed ceramics. You can occasionally buff them with a soft, dry cloth to remove any lingering dust and restore shine.
Caring for your ceramic serveware is not just about preserving its functionality; it’s also about cherishing the artistry and tradition it represents. By following these simple yet effective maintenance tips, you can ensure that your ceramic pieces remain a beautiful and enduring part of your culinary experiences.
Remember, the key to longevity in ceramics lies in gentle care and mindful handling. With the right approach, your serveware will continue to be both a functional kitchen asset and a testament to your taste and style for years to come.0