Cheese Fondue Pots and Burners
Cheese fondue pots are typically made of earthenware or ceramic. Earthenware or unglazed clay pots may need to be “seasoned” to break them in before use, but glazed ceramic pots do not need this done.
The Cheese Fondue Pot
If you are in Switzerland, only a wide-mouth earthenware clay pot or cast iron pot will do for cheese fondue. (Shown in picture) Because fondue was originally a peasants dish, fondue pots were not very fancy. They usually had a thick base with a wide open top to allow for better distribution of heat and easy access for dipping and stirring. But here in America, you will find hundreds of variations that will work fine if you can keep the heat low enough.
When shopping for a cheese fondue pot, look for these things:
1) The pot should be thick on the bottom with a sturdy handle.
2) The stand should be sturdy and hold the pot securely.
3) Ideally, the heat source should be adjustable.
4) Forks should have 2 or 3 prongs with long stems and wooden handles for safe handling. Each handle should have a different color to identify who’s fork belongs to whom.
Alcohol burners are meant to be used with fondue fuel (Sold at specialty food stores.) or denatured alcohol ONLY! (You can find it at any hardware store.) If using denatured alcohol, your burner will come with an insert that looks like a strainer. It goes inside the burner and keeps your flame under control while burning. If you are using the fondue fuel gel, you will not need the insert since the gel itself helps to control the rate at which it will burn.
- Fill your alcohol burner with 3 ounces of fuel. Using more is not recommended and may cause excessive flames. You can plan on 3 ounces of fuel burning approximately 60-90 minutes, depending on how high you set your flame. You can use 2 ounces of fuel if you plan on less time.
- Be careful to wipe off the edges of the burner if any alcohol spilled on them before you set it on its stand.
- Use a match to light the fuel at the center of the burner. Do not use a lighter since this can be very dangerous. Also, never tip the burner to ignite! You might cause fuel to leak and catch your table on fire!
- Once the fuel is lit, use the adjustable handle to control the size of the flame. Open more holes to make the flames higher. Close the holes to lower the flames or snuff out the flame with the lid if it is out of control.
- If your burner is running out of fuel, DO NOT attempt to add more fuel while the burner is lit. Use the burner lid to extinguish the flame completely and allow the burner to cool for a few minutes before re-fueling.
SAFETY: Be sure to protect your table from the heat of the flame by putting your pot on a stable surface with a heat pad, wooden cutting board, or ceramic tile under it.
Sterno Canned Fuel
Sterno or canned fuel is an easy and convenient alternative heat source, but may not offer you the control you need for keeping the temperature low for cheese. If you do choose to use a canned fuel, be sure that your pot sits up high on the base above the flame to avoid scorching. Also note that canned fuel comes in many different forms and sizes. The smaller cans with gel seem to be the best option.
Mini Ceramic Cup with Tealight Candles
If you are planning a small appetizer for two before your meal, then a tealight candle with mini ceramic cup should work great. Be careful to place it on top of a wooden cutting board or another safe surface to avoid burning your table or cloth.
Today’s electric pots come in a huge variety and are great for controlling the temperature of your fondue beautifully. Although you can use a stainless steel electric set, for cheese I prefer using an earthenware or cast iron set as shown to the left. The thicker pot helps heat to distribute more evenly and keeps the cheese from scorching on the bottom.
Great for traveling to parties with your favorite cheese fondue! Just set the temperature on low and your cheese will be perfect!
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Preparing the Pot (Seasoning, garlic)