Everything You Need to Know about Peltre and Why it's Special to Us
Memorias with Abuelita
We have such fond memories of our abuelita's home. It felt warm and homey because she always had something delicious, either to eat or drink, brewing on the stove. This was her way of showing us love: by feeding us or offering us a warm drink on a cold day. One of our favorites was her canela (cinnamon) tea, which was always served in peltre pocillos (enamel mugs).
Come to think of it, she had a whole set of peltre cookware. The lightweight cups in a distinctive blue pattern, and the way they clinked loudly in the sink are impossible to forget.
We went to Oaxaca in 2018, two years after our abuelita passed away, and came across Malte Taller's beautiful, contemporary peltre spoons. These spoons immediately transported us to our abuelita's house: the laughter and warmth around a shared meal.
We of course bought the spoons and brought them home with us. Beyond being a beautiful addition to our home, these spoons inspired us. They highlight how our generation is embracing and reinventing the traditions we grew up with. This connection to our childhood, with a modern twist warmed our hearts with comfort, just like our abuelita's tea..and is part of the inspiration behind VOLVERde.
What Exactly is Peltre?
Peltre, as it's known in Spanish, is enameled or porcelainized steel. It's been used in Latin American kitchens for the last century. As common as it was around our childhood kitchens, we didn't know much about what it was actually made of.
It turns out it's made from a steel core, which is why its so durable. The outer layer is a long-lasting coat of enamel, derived from glass powder (not paint), which makes it suitable for stovetops.
The enamel finish is obtained by being fired in ovens at temperatures over 1000 F. The end result is a smooth, durable enamel veneer decorated with artwork that will never peel.
Came to Mexico from German Migration
Peltre originated in Germany in the late 1700s. It was developed as a solution for metal leaching into food from metal dishware. Apparently people didn't like the taste of metal in their food! :) It made its way to Mexico by way of German migration in the 1800s. It became popular for its durability and affordability.
El peltre ha estado presente en la memoria del colectivo mexicano -- El Universal
Its popularity re-emerged from the 1950s - 1990s, but over time it became relegated as dishware used exclusively by the poor. As porcelain and ceramic became popular with elite, peltre become synonymous with humble, poor homes....like our abuelita's.
We remember first-hand the social stigma associated with peltre. In fact, once our mom had her first adult job, one of her first gifts to our abuelita was "real" dishware made of ceramic.
In recent years there's been a peltre renaissance of sorts, led by Mexican designers looking to incorporate peltre into the modern Mexican aesthetic.
Benefits of Peltre
Peltre has been popular over the last several decades because of the material itself. It is:
- scratch resistant
- easy to clean
- cannot burn
- doesn't leach odor or residue
It is dishwasher friendly, but we prefer to hand wash using cold water to extend the life of the enamel. The steam and chemicals in dishwashers can shorten the life of enamel. One thing to keep is that peltre is not microwave safe!
Pro Tip: care for your peltre like your abuelita cared for hers and it will last a lifetime.
Sourcing Malte Taller
We decided to source peltre products for the highly durable nature and the connection to our cultura. But we wanted to partner with the right brand to ensure the highest quality production and ensure brand alignment. The last thing we all need is another mass produced item.
That's when we remembered the spoon we bought in 2018 and tracked down the brand behind it, Malte Taller. There was immediate connection between us. We're both sister-founded businesses looking to celebrate and reinvent our cultural traditions.
Inspired by the longstanding history of peltre in our kitchens, Deni and Zzabi set out to transform traditional enamelware with modern and fun designs while preserving the material's original quality and durability.
Nuestro concepto de peltre contemporáneo es una “reinterpretación” de algo muy tradicional méxicano.Our concept of contemporary enamel ware is a 'reinterpretation' of something very traditionally Mexican. -- Malte Taller
Even though bringing these artisanal peltre products to VOLVERde involved logistical challenges, we knew it was worth it. These pieces embody what our brand stands for, and our customers so far have raved about them.
Malte Taller's commitment to celebrating our cultura is not superficial. The sisters spent hours at libraries researching Purépecha iconography as inspiration for their Michoacan Spoons. These spoons honor their own roots as natives of Pátzcuaro, Michoacan.
In honor of our own family's roots in Michoacan, we decided to include the Michoacan Spoons in our inaugural collection.
The original Malte Taller spoon we bought on our trip in 2018 is still going strong. Everytime we use our peltre dishes we think of our abuelita and cherish the memories in her kitchen.
A + M