Новый проект Ратоборцев — Городецкое гульбище. Август 1621

So, our hero’s pottery has completely run out. The only ceramic things left at the farmstead are lamps and an amphora for oil. Lack of pots and cups is not a threat to life and health, but it will cause a lot of everyday inconveniences.

Now Pavel can cook hot food only in a riveted kettle and there is nothing where he can keep leftovers or cook another dish. He can only boil water in birch bark containers using hot stones, but it’s very time consuming. There are some disadvantages of riveted kettles. The most important, perhaps, is that it’s almost impossible to steam grain thoroughly in a metal thin-walled container. And grain is Pavel’s main food. So, he needs to increase time of steep and heat treatment. And he says that it’s worse than the effect of a ceramic pot anyway.

And why the hero has no ceramics now, despite all the estimates during the project preparation?

In my opinion, there are several reasons. The most obvious one — potters let Pavel down because they produced only a half of the order. The second reason is a long period of hero’s adaptation to the new conditions of life. Of course, he is accustomed to plastic and metal dishes, besides there is poor lighting. Due to these factors Pavel has broken a lot of pottery during the first months of the project. The third reason — the goats, that storm into the living room smashing everything including pottery. The last but not least — Pavel doesn’t observe the rules of pottery exploitation during heat treatment. Spot heating is not recommended for clay pots. In the video and at cooking workshops one can often see pots heating by the stoke hole or on the top «burner». Uneven heating causes microcracks that split pots rather soon. I don’t know how much Pavel had known about pottery before the project, but now he’s surely an expert, because he managed to keep his last pot safe for a month and a half, despite everything.

Well, when I was writing this post, I found on a site for housewives some interesting tips for those who cook in pottery:

«How to use clay pots

Ceramics are quite delicate in usage. One should take care of these dishes.

Unvitrified dishes instantly absorb odors. One should avoid cooking in the same pot, for example, fish and chicken. So, there should be different pots for different dishes.

One should place just bought pots in a large bowl and completely cover them with cold water for an hour.

Before each cooking ceramics should be completely covered with cold water for 15 minutes.

Don’t use degreasing agents for washing, even if the dishes are very greasy. Use 2–3 tablespoons of vinegar for each pot and then completely cover them with water. Then pots should be placed in a cold oven and heated to a temperature of 150–170 ºC for 30 minutes. After they are completely cool, wash them with common soap and baking soda.

Pottery is very fragile and it doesn’t like temperature drop. That’s why pottery should be placed only in a cold oven and then heated gradually. When you remove pots from the oven, use wooden supports, in any case don’t put them on a cold surface».

On my own I’ll say that many reenactors should take note of these tips and Pavel’s experience. Most of them see pottery at festivals as piece of camp decoration and cook mostly in cauldrons, despite obvious advantages of ceramics and its popularity and low cost in the early Middle Ages.