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What Is Graniteware?

Real granite was the inspiration for graniteware's distinctive color pattern.
granite pattern image by jimcox40 from Fotolia.com

Graniteware is a type of metal used mostly in the construction of kitchen items such as pots, coffee makers and dinnerware. An inexpensive and durable metal, it was first made popular in the 1800s. Graniteware is still found today and is often used in camping cookware, since it is durable, easy to clean and heats well.


Graniteware's many virtues made it a popular and economical choice for cooks in the 19th century. It was "colorful, easy to clean, durable, and did not rust," notes Susan Williams in "Food in the United States 1820s to 1890." Consequently, many older recipes call for the use of graniteware pots and, when leisure camping became more common, these items were perfect for outdoor camp cooking.


Some people may recall the Thanksgiving turkey cooked in a graniteware oval roasting pan. Other types of graniteware are soup and seafood stock pots, colanders, sauce pots, coffee boilers, saucepans, casseroles and teakettles. Graniteware is a popular material for kitchen items, since it cooks evenly, is durable and can be used for many years.


Graniteware's colored pattern is distinctive. It comes in a solid color spotted or marbled with white, such as red with white, blue with white or black with white. Plate rims are usually black. The term "graniteware" comes from this unusual color pattern, as it mimics actual granite. Some patterns are more marbled than others; graniteware can also be speckled.


Graniteware was originally made of cast-iron with multiple coats of enamel. The enamel was speckled and baked on the metal, producing the distinctive color pattern. Modern graniteware is made of stainless steel with a porcelain covering.


Keep graniteware rust-free and in good condition by cleaning it thoroughly. For any rust spots, sand down the rust and wash the item. When it is fully dried, rub petroleum jelly over the spot; the rust will probably not return. Graniteware pieces are dishwasher- and oven-safe but, since they are metal, they should not be used in the microwave. With proper care, graniteware will last for decades.

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