Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: Help! Why does my stoneware dish look like it has cracks in it?

I usually have a tip to share each week so I hope you'll forgive me for asking a question rather than sharing a tip this week! :)

I have one stoneware item in my kitchen: this 9x13 baking dish. It is glazed (except on the bottom). I have handled it very carefully according to the directions that came with it -- no metal utensils, no soaking in water, etc.

After I had used the dish about 20 times (over the course of ~6 months), these "cracks" started showing up UNDER the glaze:

Stoneware with cracks under glaze?

They seem to be cracks in the stoneware (but NOT cracks in the glaze) that have some moisture in them. The cracks do not change color, except to darken over time.

When the first few cracks appeared, I stopped using the dish because I worried that I had broken it. Then I decided I may as well just use it until it really breaks! And so I'm still using it! :)

Is it normal for a glazed stoneware baking dish to look like this? Is the dish going to fall apart on me one of these days, or will it work fine for another 10 years? :)

Here is what the bottom of the dish looks like:

Stoneware with cracks under glaze?

See? No cracks at all on the bottom. Only a few scuff marks from when I have (carefully) put it into the oven. I also always allow it to dry upside down like this, so the bottom can completely dry (rather than being flat on the counter).

Related kitchen tips:

Non-stick baking sheets: what to do when they wear out

Tips for seasoning and roasting whole chickens

Tip: How to soak large dishes

Getting dinner ready on time

Tip: How to put foil on a full dish

Stove safety

How to save energy during oven pre-heating

To Participate in Kitchen Tip Tuesdays:

Post a kitchen tip in your blog. Link to this post, and then leave your link here, so we know where to find YOU! :) No giveaways or non-tip posts, please!

In order to keep the kitchen tips more easily accessible, posts not adhering to these guidelines will be removed. We need to be able to easily find/see what your kitchen/cooking tip is. :) Thanks for your participation! :)

Leave your tip links in a comment. I'll manually add them to this post!

1. Onion tears tip (Rachel)
2. Easily increase your vegetable consumption (Christine)
3. Pastry blender tip/freezing biscuits (Linda)
4. 10 uses for a pizza stone (Tara)
5. Tips on choosing safer kitchen items -- video tour (Christy)

Comments

and it seems like it is a normal thing that happens sometimes to some of those types of dishes.

I have a 9x13 dish that has done the same thing. Always wondered if it was ok to still use. I decided, like you, that I'd use it til it fell apart :)

Here's my quick onion tip:

http://trialanderrorhomeec.blogspot.com/2011/02/ktt-onion-tip.html

-Rachel

My family has always used this type of dishes and I have always seen them with cracks. I have some that were handed down to me from my grandmother, with cracks, and I've been using them for years without any problem. To be honest, having always seen them cracked, I never even wondered why they were like that!
Aline

I think they come from heating, and if your glaze in intact, you should be OK. the bottom of your dish is unglazed (and that is good or it might crack MORE when heated, as any moisture would be trapped during rapid heating) and when you wash it, or in times of high humidity it would absorb moisture (via the bottom or any cracked glaze).

During heating (or even when the dish was in the kiln getting it's glaze) the dish would heat somewhat unevenly - in that the thicker parts heat a tiny bit slower than the thin parts.

I see the cracks are all at the thick, transition to thinner parts. As the pan heats in the oven the moisture is heated out, but it had already accumulated and left a residue stain (that most likely is baked in).

In the Midwest I notice the cracks in my dishes is less in the winter, but when we didn't have AC (to reduce humidity in summer humid months) the cracks would be more prominent.

If your cracks don't radiate to the glaze, or the bottom the dish should still be fine. The cracks seem to be a darker shade of the ceramic - if they ever take on "color" (IE spaghetti sauce from a lasagna) you might want to look for glaze cracks & see if they are from a knife "wound" or ceramic crack.

I have stoneware dishes and a few baking pieces as well. Something that is very specific to this type of bakeware is that they are not supposed to go in a very hot oven (nothing above 300 degrees)..I used a few of my pieces in an oven hotter than that and they cracked as well. Hope this helps!
Amy

Hi, Amy! :)

I have definitely used this in an oven hotter than 300 degrees! But I don't recall that being on the instructions at all. (I read the instructions carefully several times since stoneware was new to me!) :)

Do you bake pizza at 300 degrees then, when using a pizza stone? That doesn't seem like it would be hot enough! :)

I remember specifically that the directions said this dish could be put in the freezer, and then straight into the oven to bake the frozen casserole or whatever. I haven't done that though (freezer-to-oven).

Tammy,

My stoneware baking pieces are different from my pizza stone in that they are glazed. The pizza stone can definitely handle the high temperatures but not my casserole dishes that are the glazed stoneware. Yours might be different from mine, but I just remember when I bought mine it said in the instructions to not use in an oven with temperatures higher than 300 degrees (which I have done on a few and they did crack!) Yours might be a higher quality than mine are (it looks like it is). Mine went with my set of dishes and I think are more for looks than anything else. I usually end up cooking in different pans and transferring to the stoneware to serve!
Amy

I don't think mine is high quality actually... I believe it was about $39 at Wal-mart at the time, which seems expensive but certainly not the most expensive...

I am just 99% positive that if the instructions said not to use at higher than 300 degrees, I would remember, because I pretty much always bake at higher temps in my 9x13s and I would have thought "Okay, so what *can* I bake in this?!" :)

That said, I believe it is quite possible that the higher baking temperatures are what has caused the cracks. As another commenter pointed out, the cracks do seem to be where the thickness of the dish changes...

Now the real question is... how long until the pan falls apart on me? Should it be relegated to decorative use only? Or is this, as someone else said, perfectly normal? :)

Tammy,

You should be able to still take it back and exchange it at Walmart. They are really good about things like that. As long as they still carry, you can probably try to exchange it for the same or a similar one- especially if you still have the receipt or the original card you purchased it on. I had something similar happen with a cooking tool from there and they were great about the exchange! Then you could try again and not use it at a higher temperature.

Sarah, I totally would do that -- except that it was a gift (ordered from WalMart.com) about 6 years ago and I don't have the packaging or receipt or anything... AND I haven't seen the same dish in the store or online... :)

yesterday I posted a recipe for squirrel casserole, and chicken is a great substitute if you aren't so sure about eating squirrel :-)

http://thelocalcook.com/2011/02/07/squirrel-casserole/

That would make me so nervous. Even though it's stoneware, I had a lovely glass explosion in my oven once from a pyrex dish that looked flawless. I'm sure the stone would just "fall apart" as you said, but it wouldn't make me any less hesitant to use it, hehe.

Hi Tammy :-)
So-o-o, I noticed that you made waffles a couple of times this past week, did you put chopped pecans in any of them? o;-)

For your "cracked" cookware. If you know the specific brand of it, you can try contacting the company and getting their in-put on it. Most likely they even have a web site where you can either leave them a message or find a toll free phone #.

I know that your not going to list my 'link-up' this week seeings how it doesn't really contain any specified cooking tips, but I'm still listing it here because I think it's a recipe you might enjoy making yourself. ;-)
Fudge Brownies - http://thebzhousethatlovebuilt.blogspot.com/2011/02/fudge-brownies.html

How did the time with your weekend guests go? Smoothly I hope!

Your friend,
Cheryl B,
The Bz House That Love Built
http://thebzhousethatlovebuilt.blogspot.com

Hi Cheryl! :)

Nooo... that menu hasn't been all made yet! Only the Belgian waffles on Sunday! :D And our guests are coming this weekend. Yay! :)

I have looked all over online for the stoneware... "color cast" is all I have to go on. It was a gift to me, and was purchased at Wal-Mart about 5-6 years ago. I can't find anything that's exactly like it online or at Wal-mart. :P :)

Your brownies sound perfect! :)

Yes, I am a bit behind on checking to see if you replied... kept meanin to... 8-p

PLEASE don't take this bad, just can't figure out any other way to say it .... the reason that your stoneware is cracking, could be due to the fact it came from Wal-Mart. Seriously. The reason that Wal-Mart can be lower priced on products over lots of their competitors, is that Wal-Mart only carries what is referred to as 'seconds'. They are products that didn't turn out "good enough" to qualify under a companies quality standards. -OR- they are products which are made with 'almost the same quality' of materials. That is why their clothing does not hold up as well over the long haul. That is why even brand name underwear starts falling apart faster than the same brand does from elsewhere. Etc. They also carry products from companies that are 'almost as good as' name brand companies .... some times we get exactly what we didn't pay for. Does all of that make sense? Also, I really hope your not offended!!!

How did your weekend with visitors go?

Ya gotta try those brownies!! Trust me ;-p

I think it may be from extreme temp changes - do you put water into it once done cooking to soak? Cooling the ceramic/clay part too fast may be causing the cracks. Maybe lit it cool complete before adding soaking water.

I think I would be afraid this would shatter on me one day.

I have added hot water to a cool dish (as in -- the dish was cool and I put it in hot dishwater to wash it) but I haven't added water to it while it was still hot...

Here is my kitchen tip for: Easily Increase your Vegetable Consumption: http://christine-mary.blogspot.com/2011/02/tips-for-easily-increasing-your.html

Tammy i will never figure out how to post lol my post is under teflon pans please check it out ty

My stoneware looked exactly like yours. I used it until it just fell apart in chunks along the fizzures. Luckily this happened during washing it.

Hope this helps.
Annette

Annette, how long did your stoneware last after it looked cracked like mine? Months? Years? :)

I have a tip this week about pastry blenders.

http://lindaslunacy.blogspot.com/2011/02/freezer-biscuits.html

Linda
http://www.lindaslunacy.blogspot.com

When I first saw your headline, I was thinking that we wrote about the same thing this week... but we didn't. My post is about unglazed stoneware.

http://www.feelslikehomeblog.com/2011/02/10-uses-for-a-pizza-stone/

I've never seen cracks like that in a stone, but I'm interested to hear what you find out. :)

Tips on Choosing Safer Kitchen Items (video tour)

http://onelittlewordsheknew.blogspot.com/2011/01/kitchen-tour-safe-bakeware-and-cookware.html

I know you already saw this, but I dont think I've linked it to a Kitchen Tip Tues yet. ;)

I have been using corning wear for many years, some of my pieces are almost 25 years old. Ive used it in all temps, soaked, washed by hand and dishwasher alike, now mine has a few stains on the bottom sort of like yours, but no cracks. Is yours corningware, or another brand? if you only hand wash it, maybe if you use the dishwasher with it it would get some of the staining out, I would like to know if you find out though, thats a real puzzle.

My stoneware dish is not Corningware. I believe it was just called "Color Cast" and was from Wal-mart.

I don't think the staining would come out, even in the dishwasher, because the dark stains in the cracks are between the NOT-cracked glaze and the NOT-cracked bottom of the dish!

I bought two oval "gratin" style pans exactly like this at walmart several years ago, same color even, just different size. One of them started to crack, one didnt. I kept an eye on the cracking one and the cracks got bigger, but thats all. I would use that one in the oven because I didnt want the same thing to happen to my other one, too. My little one was playing in my cupboards one day a couple weeks ago, and pulling dishes and bowls out onto the floor (this is common in my house). A little bit later I scooped him up and was carrying him through the house when I realized his hand was bleeding a bit. I couldnt figure our WHERE he could have cut himself, and it wasnt very big, but still alarming. I walked back into the kitchen and saw what I should have seen to begin with: the cracked pan was in pieces on the kitchen floor (big chunky pieces) and there were a few little spots of blood where he had continued to pull things out apparently unfazed by it. Scary. And my guy is little, he was maybe 10 mos when he did it. I dont have any advice on what to do, but as far as the question of how long until it falls apart, maybe not long. I probably wouldnt bake in it anymore, and have retired my uncracked one from oven use. Good luck. Ps I want to say they were like paula deen or rachel ray brand or something like that. Not 100%, but that might help your searching.

Oh, no!

It really does sound like my dish could crumble any time... :|

Well, here's one for you. I bought some very nice dishes from one of the big import stores (who shall remain nameless) that are made in Portugal and are basically glazed stoneware. I put them in the sink and soaked them, maybe 30 minutes, to get the stickers off. When I took them out I noticed they had gotten a little darker in places - around the edges but not in the center. To me it looked like water had gotten under the glaze. I put them in the microwave and, sure enough, the darker areas got very hot.

Has anyone ever had water soak into a glazed piece of stoneware - this shouldn't happen unless the glaze is defective, right?

What are the tiny cracks on the glazed surface of my cookware?

This is an effect commonly known as "crazing." With clay cookware, this is not considered a defect; it is just something that is impossible to avoid. This occurs when the clay body of the pot and the glazed surface expand and contract at different rates when they are heated and cooled. This will always happen with a glazed earthenware. Some clay pots, especially those made of stoneware do not do this. You will see the cracks when the pot is exposed to water and how they will disappear when you dry the pot.

Add new comment

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.

User login

Subscribe for free recipes, menu plans, and kitchen tips!