If I ever wrote a second blog, it would be an ode to my favorite cookware, Corning Ware, and all the things I do with it. Can you freeze in it? Oh yes. Check this out:
This is a 1950s-era ad for Corning Ware showing half the dish embedded in an ice block, while the other side of the dish is heated with a torch. Old Corning Ware is TOUGH stuff — it’s made from Pyroceram, the same material NASA made rocket nose cones out of for the space program. It has incredible thermal durability. You can take it from freezer right to oven or stovetop without breaking it. In fact, I often thaw my soup stocks this way. I take the frozen dish out of the freezer, take its rubber lid off, and pop it right on the burner.
Note I said “old” Corning Ware — there’s a big difference between the 1957-1997 Corning Ware and the “new” stoneware Corning Ware of today.
In 1998, Corning sold its consumer products division off to World Kitchen, who began making “Corning Ware” out of stoneware. Stoneware is cheaper, and it does not have the thermal properties of Corning Ware made from Pyroceram.
If you buy brand-new Corning Ware at the store and it doesn’t seem kind of expensive, it’s likely stoneware Corning Ware and not Pyroceram. You can tell the difference by looking at the bottom of your dishes. If there are any rough, unglazed areas that are not shiny, smooth and white, it’s stoneware. Most of the newer stoneware pieces are also stamped with a warning NOT to put them on the stovetop, like this piece:
You really have to be careful, as in many cases the new stoneware versions are being made with the same (or very similar) molds as the old Pyroceram pieces. The stoneware WILL break on the stovetop, and it’s not designed for freezer use either.
In Ilinois, there are Corning Ware stores at Gurnee Mills, Aurora, and Norridge (Huntley used to have one too) where you can pick up new Pyroceram pieces up — they do have good sales periodically. This store is also a great place to buy extra glass and rubber lids for your existing pieces. I use the rubber lids all the time for freezing food in my Corning Ware dishes.
My mom got me hooked on Corning Ware when I was a 20-something setting up my first house, and she has given me many new and secondhand pieces over the years. I just love them! (Can you tell?)
I do a lot of cooking and freezing in my Corning Ware — I like to make extra batches of whatever I’m making, freeze them, then reheat and serve right out of the same dish. I also have a wonderful Corning Ware Crock Pot which holds a 3-quart dish. If I want to reheat something slowly versus heating it on the stovetop or in the oven, I’ll drop the dish in here with a glass lid and let it heat all day:
This style of Crock Pot was made somewhere around 1993. (Wish they still made them!) You can find them on Ebay, but I’ve seen them sell upwards of $40-$60 used. (Then again, Crock Pots last pretty much forever.)
I’ll leave you with a couple of my favorite Corning Ware ads too. These, and the “ice and fire” photo above, all came from the fantastic Complete Guide to Corning Ware & Visions Cookware book, which is now out of print. A good substitute would be this guide to Corning Pyroceram Cookware, both of which have great guides to pieces and patterns, plus some amazing vintage ads:
“It won’t break or warp from heat or cold — even if you’ve just taken it off the burner and put it in the freezer. Slip the cover on it and it’s a storage dish. Put it in the freezer and it’s a freezer dish. Pop it in the oven and it’s ovenware.”
“You can take it from freezer cold to range top heat without fear of it breaking or warping.” And oh, the part about “The more you have, the more you want?” Trust that lady in the pink housecoat. It’s true.