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Donabe 101 - How to Season a New Donabe

You got a new donabe, and now, you're ready to season it. We often receive inquiries about how "difficult" it is to season a new donabe, and some people express fear of the process, worrying that they might break it.

But, there's no need to worry! Seasoning a new donabe is a super easy, one-time process. It's also your very first spiritual interaction with your new donabe. To me, seasoning a donabe is always an exciting and somewhat therapeutic experience.

To season your new donabe, you can simply make a very thick porridge in it. I usually use any leftover rice and water. This process, known as 'Medome' in Japanese, is essential for enhancing the durability of donabe which is naturally porous (and that's the key to its exceptional heat distribution and retention ability).

Seasoning it helps the starch from the rice fill tiny gaps, making the donabe even more durable and helping it from possibly cracking or leaking.

So, enjoy the Medome (seasoning) process, and let your new donabe become a cherished part of your joyful life for many, many years.

Common Questions about Donabe Seasoning

Q1. Do you wash a donabe before seasoning?
Answer: Yes, it’s recommended, but please make sure the outer bottom is dry before setting it over heat.

Q2. Can I eat the porridge after seasoning a donabe? 
Answer: Yes, it’s still edible. But, to season, you want to make a really thick porridge (almost pasty), so it won’t be nice and smooth for your palate. So, you might just want to compost it.

Q3. Can I use flour, brown rice, or any other starch/ grain to season a donabe?
Answer: For a high quality donabe such as Iga-yaki donabe I use is especially made with coarse clay and very porous, so the starch level of short grain rice is considered to be most ideal. Also, it’s important to start with already cooked rice.

Q4. How long do I need to cook the porridge to season my donabe?
Answer: For a medium size donabe, it usually takes about 30 minutes cooking time. But, it also depends on the water/ rice ratio, heat level, etc. So, it could take longer for the porridge to get really thick. As my mom always said, "Cook until it's done"!

Watch the new tutorial video on my Happy Donabe Life YouTube Channel linked below, or find the full step-by-step seasoning process in my DONABE Cookbook and on Happy Donabe Life recipe page.

Happy Donabe Life!