How do I clean a porous clay cooking Romertopf pot that has been stored in my basement, and as a result, has mildew all over it? It is hard to believe that anything could ever be cooked in it again.
By Ann from Ossining, NV
Well, I'd put it outside while it was still summer, and brush it on all surfaces with straight bleach, out of the way of children and pets, and let it bleach in the sun. You might do one side and leave it in sun, and then turn it over and do the same again. The ozone from the sun plus the bleach might do it. Then rinse and scrub. Repeat if necessary on next two sunny days; don't procrastinate as summer is getting ready to leave us. Let air in the weather, and then maybe brush it with pure lemon juice as above, rinse and dry again. Then bake it by itself at 250 for 8 hours, in separate pieces and let it cool overnight without moving it. I would think mildew wouldn't have a chance after all that, and the airing, rinsing, and lemon treatment would remove any taste factors.
I know that sounds like overkill, but that's what I would do.
I wouldn't risk using it for food ever, ever again because the pottery is porous and the mold has probably permeated all the way through and you definitely don't want to be using harsh chemicals to try to clean it because those also will seep in to the pores and you certainly don't want to risk placing food for consumption in it after that either.
I am thinking that since it was stored away as long as it was that it became that moldy that it really wasn't missed much and really not that big of a deal to simply use it to plant flowers in or use it as the base to craft a centerpiece for your dining room table or even store miscellaneous items on or under your kitchen or bathroom counters/sink. :-)
I'd agree with PIKKA, and add that if you still have ANY signs of mildew, use the pot outside. Do not bring it in the house, especially if you have anyone with allergies, the mold/mildew will just be waiting for the slightest bit of moisture (therefore, not in the bathroom), to grow again.Good luck!
I was reading that it is expected for mildew to accumulate on terra cotta baking pots after long storage. Cleaning with a paste of baking soda is all that is needed to do the trick. I also saw a good idea for them and that is to store artisan (crusty) bread! Having your clay baker out will protect it and put it to good use.