If you are a pizza lover and have invested in a pizza stone then the first two questions that will pop in your head would be how to use a pizza stone? And How to clean a pizza stone? Well, in this post we are going to cover both of those questions, and maybe a few extra tips as well!
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What is a pizza stone?
First of all a thin slab similar to a baking sheet but made of ceramic, clay or iron which is used for baking pizza is called a pizza stone. Pizza stones, also known as baking stones, are not like other baking sheets and have some rules for cleaning. If you don’t already have one, here is the stone I recommend by Rocksheat.
Why clean a pizza stone?
Before you start cleaning a pizza stone, you’re probably wondering if it’s actually necessary to clean it? Well, most of the time it isn’t. Over time, fats, grease and moisture will be absorbed in the stone. As a pizza stone is reasonably porous the dirt is soaked up so a dirty looking stone is unavoidable.
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Having said that, when there is a lot of residue and fat on the stone it will cause issues. The stone can start burning, causing massive amounts of smoke which will set off the fire alarm and can make the pizza smell burnt. Residue on the stone can also attach itself to the cooking pizza which will affect the look and smell of the pizza as well as being unsanitary. In this instance, yes, it is a good idea to clean your pizza stone. Let’s see how it’s done.
How to clean a pizza stone
There are also some tips and tricks through which you can take care of your pizza stone and make it long-lasting. Here are a few steps that you should know before you clean your pizza stone.
Allow your pizza stone to cool. Before you clean your stone, keep it outside the oven for a day to let it cool to room temperature.
In this step, you may want to use a few tools. The tools can be a bench scraper, blunt table knife, toothbrush, plastic spatula, stone brush or sandpaper. Use one of these and start scratching your food bits that have been stuck on the stone. A plastic spatula or dough scraper are preferable as they don’t leave scratches on the stone. Whatever tool you choose, don’t go too harsh with that.
Even after scraping if you realise that there are still pieces of food that are stuck and the stain is not removed then you can try the option of using a baking soda paste. Mix a tablespoon of baking soda into water and make a semi-thick paste.
Apply the paste to the stone and leave it for a few minutes.
Then use a toothbrush or a scouring pad and start rubbing the hard. You’ll notice that the stone soaks up the moisture therefore a little extra water will help here. I use a squirty drinks bottle to add water as it’s needed.
Use a cloth or paper towel to soak up the dirty water.
Once you are done cleaning the food bits, wipe the stone down with a damp soft fabric cloth or paper towels. If you see there are still some bits attached then repeat the previous steps. Another option would be to heat the stone to 500 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour before you start scraping.
I’m happy with how clean my stone is now. It’s near impossible for the stains to be fully removed as they are well absorbed in the porous layers. The last option is to dry the pizza stone. It takes about 2- 3 hours for the stone to dry, but I stay on the side of caution and leave it for 24 hours. Make sure the stone is completely dried before you use it again. Because if there is moisture and the pizza stone is introduced to heavy heat then it may shatter.
How to take care of your pizza stone?
There are a few top tips to prevent your pizza stone from getting damaged or dirty. Follow these points as best as you can so you won’t have to deep clean your stone (as shown above) too often.
- Put less flour on your pizza peel. This will reduce the amount of burnt flour that will sit on the stone
- Use a natural brush to remove residue between bakes. Don’t use a plastic one as it will melt!
- Leave a wide crust to avoid the cheese from falling onto the stone
- Preheat the stone thouroughly before baking so the base of the pizza cooks properly and is less likely to fall apart when removing the pizza from the oven with a peel.
How not to clean a baking stone
Unlike other utensils in your kitchen, pizza stones don’t need soap and water. What they need is a little bit of extra treatment. Pizza stones have a porous texture so when you wash them with soap, they soak in the chemicals. This means that you’ll be able to taste chemicals in the bread or pizza after baking the next time it’s used.
You shouldn’t soak it in water because it will absorb the maximum amount of water and take many days to get completely dried.
Also don’t ever try to put the pizza stone in the dishwasher because it will break down into pieces!
Another big N0 – NO for cleaning a pizza stone is oil. You don’t have to season your stone with oil before you bake anything. Rather you want it dry. When you already cook food on it, the oil from the food stays on the stone making it wet and greasy. This leads to a soggy crust of your pizza. For a crispy crust, you want a complete dry pizza stone. If you realise that the stone has soaked excessive oil from your food then you can dry that with paper towels or dry cloth after it has cooled a bit.
What to do if you soak a pizza stone in soap water?
If you have washed your pizza stone with soap, take a deep breath because there’s a solution for this! What you need are some bread crumbs or dry bread crusts.
To begin with, preheat the stone and then layer it with crumbs, making sure the whole stone is covered. Then you bake in the oven at medium heat 350F (180F), until they burn.
They will absorb the soapy fragrance. Once browned, use a brush or metal scraper to clean the crumbs from the stone. They can be thrown away. You can repeat this process two or three times.
If this does not work, try cleaning the stone with bicarbonate of soda paste. It will eventually fade away because the stone will be seasoned now and then.