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Tin lining in copper pots


jturn00
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I have a copper pot with a tin lining. It is new and doesn't have any copper showing. Does tin react to acidic ingredients such as tomatoes, lemon juice or an acidic vinegar like an aluminum pot or pan would? I wanted to use the pot to make a tomato sauce or risotto.

Jeff

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Interesting. A little internet hunting to refresh the 'long ago and far away' chemistry classes suggests that Tin will indeed react with acidic sauces. A little less so than would aluminum. And yet, isn't the purpose of the tin lining primarily to reduce such interactions? Where's my copy of McGee when I need it? :smile:

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I wasn't sure. I found this information on the web http://www.retinning.com/importance.html but it still isn't really clear. I may need to just test it for myself.

Jeff

UPDATE: I called the place and the person mentioned that the tin won't effect flavor but that the color of thetin might get darker.

Edited by jturn00 (log)
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...isn't the purpose of the tin lining primarily to reduce such interactions?

Yes. Tin is much less reactive (and, as a bonus: not poisonous) compared to copper.

I personally don't recommend tin-lined copper because the tin lining is too fragile and in the long run, once it's retinned it ends up being more expensive than stainless-lined.

--

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Hi Slkinsey,

I realize that tin isn't recommended. But I have the opportunity to get a stockpot and a smaller soup stockpot (with out worrying about the cost) and was just checking if I made a soup or something that might be acidic. In most cases the smaller one would be used for soups or mulled wine and the larger for boiling water for pasta. My other copper pots are all stainless steel lined.

Jeff

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Aren't tin cans coated with some sort of polymer to prevent interacting with the food? It is the main reason I do not buy dented tins, the protective coating may have been breached or compromised. Some tomato juice, in particular, sometimes tastes(flavour) like tin cans. Although, this may only be because of long term exposure to acidic ingredients?

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I have been cooking with tin-lined copper for 50+ years and have cooked everything in the pans, including high acid foods. I have some antique tin-lined copper pots that are at least 150 years old - they were imported from France in 1859 and were probably made years earlier. I no longer use most of them but have had them re-tinned several times. I have a large egg-poaching pan (has round depressions on the bottom) that I still use.

The tin does discolor with certain foods but doesn't affect the taste.

I have upgraded to the stainless-lined copper but still use a couple of large tin-lined stockpots as there are none that size available with stainless lining.

The tin lining can last a long time if one uses some simple rules. Do not scrub with harsh abrasives, do not put them on high heat burners if empty. Use wooden spoons for stirring and do not scrape firmly or repeatedly with metal utensils.

Here are more sites with copper/tin information.

French Copper Studio

and one in Brooklyn, NY!

I also have a huge "preserving" pot with a round bottom, a smaller, shallow, flat-bottomed preserving pan and a 2 1/2 quart sugar pan. All of these are unlined.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Again, for those who may be considering purchasing new tin-lined copper: consider the cost. Retinning is not cheap. These guys, for example, have you add up the diameter of the pan plus the height of both sides of the pan, then multiply by $4. So, the cost of retinning an 11-inch saute pan would be around 68 bucks before shipping, etc.

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I use mostly copper and you are fine with the tin-lined. The concern with tomatoes is that they are exposed to bare copper, as they are one of the few things that cannot be done directly in copper (i.e. many things, like candy and egg whites and preferably done in an unlined bowl. Just be vigilant if you start to see copper peeking through.

I agree that retinning can be expensive, so if you are starting from scratch I would recommend getting stainless steel-lined, but I also have a lot of pieces that either aren't made any more (so no stainless option) or are not made at the same level of quality (i.e. gauge of copper) that I have to get retinned. Basically, my skillet, saute and sauce pans are all stainless, but my specialty pieces are a mix of stainless and tin-lined.

If you want to retin, one note: I have used retinning.com and had some pots they kept for a long time (I assume they get a lot of the NY restaurant business). I started using Fantes in Philadelphia instead and they are a little cheaper ($3.50/in) and I have gotten stuff back faster. They also have a great selection of copper pieces.

Edited by mikeycook (log)

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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Most of the pots I got for day to day use are stainless steel lined. But the store where I had the gift certificate/credits did not have stainless steel lined stock pots but they did have tin lined stock pots. So I was just checking if I happened to put something in them that was acidic that I wouldn't ruin the food as in most cases we will be using them to make stock or pasta. As an added bonus they are hammered and look really nice if I left them out.

Jeff

Jeff

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Most of the pots I got for day to day use are stainless steel lined.  But the store where I had the gift certificate/credits did not have stainless steel lined stock pots but they did have  tin lined stock pots.  So I was just checking if I happened to put something in them that was acidic that I wouldn't ruin the food as in most cases we will be using them to make stock or pasta.  As an added bonus they are hammered and look really nice if I left them out.

Jeff

Jeff

It will not ruin the food. I have made many tomato-based sauces in tin-lined copper and have never noticed a taste or color issue.

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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  • 6 years later...

DO NOT LISTEN TO ANYONE WHO RECOMMENDS COPPER LINED WITH TIN.  In the USA there was one place that would reline it (in New Jersey IIRC). Tin lined copper will need to be relined no matter how you treat it.  

 

I've had the copper-stainless for many years and have been quite happy with it.  It heats evenly and cleans easily.  I've got quite a bit of it and wouldn't trade it for anything.

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DO NOT LISTEN TO ANYONE WHO RECOMMENDS COPPER LINED WITH TIN.  In the USA there was one place that would reline it (in New Jersey IIRC). Tin lined copper will need to be relined no matter how you treat it.  

 

I've had the copper-stainless for many years and have been quite happy with it.  It heats evenly and cleans easily.  I've got quite a bit of it and wouldn't trade it for anything.

That's bull.  

 

There's Brooklyn Copperware.

 

There's Rocky Mountain Retinning.

 

There's East Coast Tinning.

 

There's Metal Man Restoration.

 

But please, go on...

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I'm still a bit unsure of tin-lined cookware though; I heard it can't handle higher temperatures (which is something I don't want to have to worry about) and can possibly contain lead in the tinning. I probably won't be able to buy from ebay.fr because I'll only be there for 8 days (after which I'm going to Spain).

Hi, Little Chef:

 

  Melting tin is, IMO, an overblown concern, which is remedied almost entirely simply by: (a) not preheating a completely empty pan; and (b) choosing the correct size pan for the preparation.  I routinely use tinned copper for everything save *very* high searing, and even use it for oven use above the magic 437F.  Mistakes can happen which can bubble or smear the tin, but they are rarely catastrophes or require retinning.  Bi-metal pans, OTOH, can be destroyed forever by pitting and delamination.  The best I can say for the bimetal construction is that you can use metal utensils with impunity. 

 

  The chief advantage of tin-lined pans, IMO, is that you can find tinned vintage pans that are thicker than any bimetal pans in current production.  A vintage, lathe-turned and planished 3mm or above tinned pan in sound condition is almost always better than a new stamped 2.3mm bimetal pan, and the former can be found for 1/4 the price of the latter.   There's also the "Red Violin" aspect of owning a hotel-grade pan that already has 100 or more years of care lavished in and on it; I think that is worth something...  Also, with induction stoves being rammed down the throats of our French friends, the brocantes can offer some 99th percentile pans for little money.

 

  As for concerns about lead, this is also completely overblown.  Food grade tin contains about 0.002% lead.  It is theoretically possible that an evil, unscupulous tinner used hazardous metal, but not bloody likely.  A hardware store test kit should allay any fears.

Edited by boilsover (log)
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Aren't tin cans coated with some sort of polymer to prevent interacting with the food? It is the main reason I do not buy dented tins, the protective coating may have been breached or compromised. Some tomato juice, in particular, sometimes tastes(flavour) like tin cans. Although, this may only be because of long term exposure to acidic ingredients?

Although beside the point, I can't let this pass. "Tin" cans are made of steel, no tin involved for most of my lifetime. They are coated internally. I rather suspect you would have to pierce the can to damage the lining.

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