Copper Cookware Expert Buying Tips
Copper cookware is superior to all other metals when it comes to conducting heat. It is the top choice by professional chefs and avid culinary enthusiasts alike. It is preferred by chefs around the world because it is durable and has excellent characteristics. Not only is it the best heat conductor, but the heat is also conducted evenly allowing for less energy use and no hot spots or scorching of food.
Copper cookware is more expensive than other pots and pans, but it is well worth it. A good quality set that has proper care can last a lifetime. This is a timeless material that appeals to families and professional chefs. Other pots and pans don’t even compare to it in our opinion, it’s the best cookware you can buy. Any cook who has tried the same dishes cooked in different types of cookware will agree that they like copper cookware the best and savor the splendid flavors the best. It will heat up very quickly but cools down very quickly also when removed from the heat. This prevents delicate dishes from overcooking or burning.
With the combination of style and functionality, copper pots and pans can be very exciting additions to your kitchen decor with their beautifully striking solid red color. Many chefs display them with a full hanging pot rack that looks stunning over a kitchen island or mounted on a wall to show them off.
There are some myths about the safety of copper cookware. Most come from the visual change in the color of the pots if not properly cared for or handled correctly. Copper cookware is completely safe when lined with tin or stainless steel. It is safe to cook with unlined pots when you are careful what foods you choose to cook in them. There are some egg dishes and special sauces that professional chefs prefer to cook in an unlined pan to obtain perfection.
Most on the market are lined with stainless steel or tin to keep the pans from getting damaged and to prevent the copper pot from having an interaction with the food you cook. If unlined, it can produce toxic salts when exposed to some foods as well as discolor the food which is harmless in most cases, but not appetizing.
Copper cookware is the best conductor of heat, especially for stovetop cooking when your want to cook at precisely controlled temperatures. It is especially good for high-heat, fast cooking techniques such as sauteing, frying and is recommended by the experts for browning sauces.
These pots are very durable, resisting denting and warping, However, they can get scratched or become discolored without proper copper cookware care, and should be lined for most culinary needs.
For these reasons, they are most often lined with tin or stainless steel. This prevents the copper pans from damage and food from interacting with the metal. You must maintain it properly which does take extra effort.
Stainless steel lining can be the best for the in-home chef. It is easy to care for and very durable. It is OK to clean with a scouring pad and use metal utensils with this. Also, tin can melt with high heat causing bubbles in the lining.
For the cook that wants benefits of copper but less time spent with maintenance, there is the option of copper bottom cookware. It has excellent heat conductivity and without the overall up-keep and is less heavy.
Another alternative is copper core cookware. It may well be the next ultimate in cookware, now available. It has the culinary performance of copper with the cleaning ease of stainless steel. It has a core of aluminum with an internal layer of copper on the bottom and sides and all of the surface and exterior of stainless steel.
Copper cookware, the ultimate tool for the professional cook in all of us!
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Things to consider:
Nothing is more beautiful in a kitchen than a row of shining copper cookware hanging on a rack. It is wonderful, but if it is blotchy and faded it can spoil the look and also affect the efficiency of your pans.
Maintaining your copper cookware today has been made quite simple. With specialty cleaners and ancient home-made pastes, it just takes a little forethought.
To keep it shiny, just follow these simple rules for best results:
Never put these pans inside of a dishwasher. They are not dishwasher safe and the harsh detergents can ruin them. The ingredients in detergents, especially chlorine, in these cleaners can cause it to pit.
Always wash your pots in hot soapy water. Never allow it to air dry. This will cause spots that are virtually impossible to remove.
Towel dry your pans immediately after washing them.
Never use metal utensils, instead use silicone or wooden tools. This will keep your pots and pans from being scratched and food exposed to the metal. If you choose to purchase stainless steel lining, then you can use any type of utensil with no need to worry about scratching.
The problem with copper cookware is that it interacts with just about everything it comes into contact with. Moisture in the air causes a film to form on it that can be poisonous. Salty food causes a chemical reaction that can cause to taste metallic. To make it safe, it is lined with tin, silver, or stainless steel. This is also the reason it needs to be polished regularly to retain its beauty.
Bar Keepers Friend or scouring powder on a stainless steel lined pot to clean it to a sparkling shine.
We suggest that when you get your new copper cookware you first fill your pots and pans with water and bring it to a boil with some aromatic herbs or some green veggies.
Never heat your copper cookware empty. Always fill the pot with at least a small amount of liquid or fat before placing it over the heat.
Be sure to turn down the heat when cooking with your new copper pan you will only need to cook at medium for high, medium-low for medium, and low for most of your dishes.
Stainless steel lining is best for most cooks, but if your lining is tin or silver, treat it gently. If placed over a high heat empty the lining could melt. French chefs prefer tin linings because it is not as prone to sticking and a better conductor of heat. Tin melts at 460 degrees and will wear out over time. This is when you will need to send your pan to a retinner where it can be re-tinned to be made to look and function as new again. The folks at Rocky Mountain Retinning provide this service.
Tin-lined copper cookware is much less expensive than stainless steel. It must be cleaned gently with soap and hot water and soaked without scrubbing.
We recommend that you season the stainless steel lining of your new copper cookware before using it. You can do this by applying a thin layer of high smoke oil, like peanut oil, to the inner surface of the copper pot with a paper towel, heat the pan until just before the oil begins to smoke. Remove it and let it cool then rinse in tap water and dry with a towel. Your new copper cookware is now ready to use. It will not be necessary to repeat this process unless you use scouring or abrasive powders on the stainless steel. This would remove it and you will need to reseason. (Do not get the oil on the copper as it will be extremely difficult to remove once heated).
*If your pots are coated with tarnish-proof lacquer you will need to remove it before using. Simply dissolve the lacquer with lacquer thinner or acetone found in the local hardware store. It must be removed before use or it will cause permanent spotting of your copper pots and affect the look and quality of cooking.
*Please know that some copper pans used for candy, confection making, and zabaglione as well as the traditional Polenta Pan are unlined for specific cooking characteristics or to be used with very high heat. When using unlined solid copper cookware, please do not use acidic foods in the pans and never store food in these pans.
If it is allowed to develop dark blotches, these areas will absorb more heat than the bright shiny areas and cause hot spots that can lead to food cooking unevenly, sticking, and burning. We recommend “CopperBrill” cleaner. It is the perfect cleaner!
It will keep your copper cookware brilliant shiny with a new appearance with little to no elbow grease necessary. It needs no hard rubbing it acts as an anti-oxidant and removes the discoloration. The small container usually lasts about a year. When you have finished cleaning place the sponge back into the container of cleaner dry. Don’t rinse it out with water. The water stops the chemical reaction and makes the sponge not work. We suggest using professional cleaners, but you can make a home-made paste of water, salt, and flour to keep your cookware bright and shiny.
For some people, their taste is to retain the natural patina that can appear over time, and don’t like their copper cookware to be brightly colored. They just wash their pots in hot, soapy water and use a soft dishcloth to clean.
There are dozens of powdered and liquid potions out there as well as chemical impregnated cloths that will do this job. But the method that is simple and clean and green……lemon and coarse grain kosher salt. This method takes much less time and work than commercial copper preparations. We also like that it is food-safe and eco-friendly.
For heavy dark marks, they spread ketchup on the pot and leave it for ten minutes then wash it in hot soapy water again. The acid in the ketchup works naturally to remove stains.