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I have a 2 1/2 quartfrench white cassarrole that i would nnot give to my worst enemy. this thing is poorly desgined, cleaning it is impossible compared to pyrex. putting it in the oven with no place to hang on is dangerous. getting it out of the oven, i have to use a pyrrex cake dish to handle it.lid does not seal making it usless. definetly a waste of money
How do you cook food on your hob, oven and microwave? My father didn't like the advent of cheap plastic microwave wear scientifically because of the fear that the plastic would taint food. Indeed we did have a few starter kits (which we ended up using as pots in the garden or for mixing paint) which had discoloured due to cooking in the microwave. (This is a long review.)
About 20 years ago when we got our first microwave, we were enticed to try a new cooking pot which had reached the UK market. It was called a Corning dish. We had never heard of the brand before but the price of the pots mirrored the same design as white glass versions of Pyrex, known for its toughness and cooking versatility. However there was some advantage to Corning even though the prices commanded a high price. Whilst they looked like Pyrex, they could be used in the oven, hob and microwave. They were also easier to clean and if dropped they did not break into tiny fragments of dangerous glass splinters.
These days however it is really hard to find Corning Ware. Whilst I tried Jenners in Edinburgh who professed to know all about kitchen ware, John Lewis couldn't supply me with any and Lakeland Plastics had never heard of this company. In the end my mother managed to purchase three cooking pots with matching clear glass lids from a trade commercial cooking supplier company who deal with Corning Ware as well as other commercially graded products.
** Who is Corning? **
Corning is very similar to Pyrex having been fashioned out of a glass ceramic material which is suitable for conventional oven and microwave cooking but the beauty of Corning is that it can also be used on the hob too! This must have made the designers at Pyrex green with envy because whilst Corning use Pyrex covers on their pots, Pyrex's own ceramic glass pots cannot be used on the hob. This gives Corning a clear advantage over other pots from companies including Pyrex which market these types of white ceramic pots with clear glass lids. Corning was taken over in the 1990's by American company "World Kitchen," but historically Corning has been making these kinds of kitchenware pots since 1958.
Pyrex however confuse still waters; for example, they launched a brand name which sat alongside Corning Ware, simply known as "Pyrex Corning," to show that their product had been made in France and the consumer was pushed to believe it was the same brand even though latterly the companies do share similar components.
Now when I say pots, I really mean round casserole pots or dishes where sometimes Corning don't include an additional lid but Corning also make some very beautiful coloured stone ware pots which are not designed to be used in all three cooking ways. As such this review, however dependent on the category's subject will probably centre on one simple casserole dish although I have also had use of Corning Stone ware which I feel gives Le Creuset a run for its money.
** The Corning Ware Range **
Presently there are a few good ranges to consider if you ever consider Corning Ware as a brand.
For example we have a beautiful deep red casserole stone ware Corning pot which comes with a matching stoneware lid. We have had this pot for 10 years after a friend came back from the USA and bought the pot for us especially. Over Le Creuset which my mother loves but cannot lift due to arthritis, the Corning version is extremely similar but it cannot be used on the hob. The weight of the dish (on the website it is now called the "Ruby" pot) is approximately 1kg which equates to a standard bag of sugar (or 2 if you consider two small packs!) but the ease of use has really been the fact that it can be carried from the oven straight to the table without being bulky and losing the image that it is a cooking pot and not a display pot when guests arrive. In all intents and purposes it looks like a Le Creuset branded pot if it wasn't for the labelling of "Corning," in large capitals! Our pots for example have always been washed in a dishwasher and still to this day, our Ruby pot still has its gleam and shininess that all glazed stone ware pots and general kitchen ware should have.
In terms of heat then this stoneware pot can easily accommodate and heat up to 300°C which is more than enough for domestic ovens these days. We have also used the pot in our commercial microwave (the first one we had which lasted 15 years) and found similar results, particularly Indian dishes which in our opinion need good strong cooking pots for authentic home cooking.
Corning therefore make a whole range of cookware ranging from stoneware pots in a variety of colours such as red, blue, green and other derivatives along the way. But they also produce table way, a recent collection which my mum desperately wants to get her hands on which is called the "Traditions" range.
These quaint looking dishes to her mind would look good in any classy kitchen, but more importantly given that we have had Corning dishes, from original for 20 years the reputation and brand recognition has been set from the word go and the longevity and quality has impressed us. They also make ramekin dishes, different sizes and colours of other small, modern cookware and a handy size of dishes and small square pots for picnics and travelling.
We also have a square roaster dish made by Corning which comes with a Pyrex lid but this is no longer viewable on the website! The weight of all these dishes and general bake ware however is average which mirrors the same weight characteristics which could be applied with any Pyrex for comparison aspects.
** The French Collection **
It is strange that now, Corning Ware have gone to the trouble of producing a basic range of casserole pots and accompanying dishes and labelling it the "French White," collection but then again with its Pyrex lids, perhaps in favour of using the French company initially for their lids, Corning Ware in some way are trying to pay homage.
The beauty of Corning Ware therefore isn't just the fact that all these pots from the French range can be used on the hob, oven and microwave but they stand well individually on the table once the food has been cooked. The pots can also be placed in the fridge OR freezer too, which means one pot should really do all - and one pot did me well when I lived away from home the first time I became a student! Infact the very same casserole pot is still here, identified by the fact that it has flowers on its bottom rim of the pot, which shows it's dating by the design and when other companies were doing the same to jazz up their cookware.
Presently through the commercial kitchenware supplier we have purchased three pots;
The first casserole pot is a small pot, measuring 2.75" by 6.25" diameter, whilst their medium sized pot is 3" by 7.25" diameter. We bought two medium pots and one small pot; with the likelihood that if Scotts of Stow continue to sell these two casserole pots, we will make future purchases.
In terms of quantity of food, each pot can take one complete meal, although I have also used the medium pot for boiling a 3 person's quantity of pasta. I've even fried onions and garlic with meat in the pots which adds to the versatility and thanks to the clear glass knobbed lids; it is easy to check on the progress of the food whilst cooking. Although all three pots which we have are small and medium sizes, it is possible to use all three for any cooking prep required, with the beauty of the fact that they look inoffensive now without the lurid flowery patterns on our old Corning pots.
One downside though is that the handles on the pot do get warm over time and when cooking in an oven or microwave for around 10 minutes of more, the handles are not "stay cool" by design and as a pot it is common sense therefore to use gloves when transporting from the hob to the table.
** Prices **
The price we paid including VAT was £86-85 for all three pots and this was from commercial kitchenware company, Scotts of Stow. They currently sell the small casserole and medium casserole pots, all in white with clear glass lids. £29-95 for the medium pot and £26-95 for the small pot; an additional charge of £4-95 was also applied for postage and packaging.
At the moment there is only one seller who is selling Corning Ware at reduced prices so it does show in some way the availability aspect of the pieces as well as the fact that they are extremely hard to get.
** Quality and Build **
Compare this to Pyrex and it is obvious that the Corning Ware in some instances commands double the price, but given that Corning Ware pots can be cooked in three devices as opposed to two, it makes sense for the professional cook. I also have to stress that we have also bought Pyrex at the same time when we bought Corning but they never lasted; with the only ware that we have left is a humble faded Pyrex measuring jug.
In terms of general build, and given that we use the old pots everyday for microwave and hob use, I have never encountered splits or any cracks. If there is one downside, then it has to be directed towards the Pyrex lids themselves which accompany the simple white casserole round styles - over time, they can crack at the sides of the rim due to the lids being slammed down rather than during cooking time with high heat thrown at it. If the lid is thrown away however, the pot can still be used!
** Cleaning and Washing **
As mentioned Corning Ware is dishwasher safe but if washing by hand, particularly with any burnt on foods, we usually add hot water, a pinch of salt and washing up liquid and leave overnight. By morning all the food comes off the bottom and the pot can then be used again. What is more remarkable is that even with 20 years use, our old Corning pots are still shiny on the inner and outer surfaces.
Generally though, although Corning produce a paste for cleaning with (and it's expensive - the last we paid in the UK for the bottle of paste was a hefty £15) the pots are extremely easy to wash by hand but they must never be tackled with any metal based scourer because we found that the bases show up the scratches really easily and they can never be shifted thereafter!
** Any other advantages? **
The website states that the stoneware is "non porous stoneware which won't absorb odours and resists staining." Well, in our experience staining can happen if you don't adhere to the rules and try a scourer pad which is how I managed to get stains happening thereafter! However it is true to say that the pots are odourless once they have been washed, which is ideal when I have used one casserole pot for a thick onion salad, where onions in particular are notorious for leaving their scent behind no matter how many times you hand wash it. Acidic foods can also be cooked in the pots without fear of the ceramic reacting to them.
** Conclusion **
I have already vented my frustrations in the lack of availability for this product in the UK by emailing "World Kitchen," and yet I am astounded to the main department stores such as Jenners, John Lewis and House of Frasers who sell other top brand marques who have never heard of this brand before - it was at John Lewis and House of Frasers where we had bought Corning Ware initially!!
Although expensive Corning Ware is the way to go, particularly if you have limited space in your kitchen or home and need a pot which can go into all three different kinds of conventional cooking devices. Tied in with the fact that in quality terms, Corning Ware apes other brands really well without being ostentatious and a colourful range of cookware designed to appeal beyond the oven in the kitchen and you have a range from a company which is well thought out. The only realistic downside is the lack of UK availability. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2007.