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Copper cookware


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I've never used copper cookware. I'm considering buying some new/different pots and pans, and I'm wondering whether it's worth exploring copper. And if so, what should I look for?

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Different types of cookingware is compared in this article.

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=25717

From what I gather copper has the best heat conductivity coupled with a good heat capacity/volume unit.

It also looks pretty.

If you want good stuff that isn't a hassle you probably want to look for stainless lined copper and not tinned copper as tin will melt at high temperatures. You probably want ( preferably ) 2.5 mm thick pans or 2.0 mm thick pans. the thinner ones 1.6 mm are mostly for presentation.

It also depends on what kind of stovetop you have, you get most out of copper performance wise with a gas stovetop from what I gather, it won't work with induction, and probably cast iron is much more bang for the buck on electrical.

Thick aluminum is a pretty good choice also as long as you dont have very sour food.

Another "advantage" is that you don't have to feel you are ruining a stainless lined copper pan if you clean it thoroughly with detergent, it's still stickier than a a well used cast iron pan though

The major brands are Mauviel, Bourgeat, and Falk.

This store in France sells the stuff a bit cheaper from what I gather, never been there or ordered from them, just seen it mentioned.

http://www.e-dehillerin.fr/en/index.php

Edited by JMT (log)
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Since the biggest advantage over cheap aluminum is responsiveness, copper makes the most sense for saucepans. I love it for sauté pans and rondeax, too, but at today's prices that would be a luxury.

If I had to choose just one copper pan it would be a slope-sided 1.5 litre saucepan (lined with s.s., 2.5mm thick, iron handle). All the companies JMT mentions make one.

Notes from the underbelly

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Do it!

Getting some copper cookware is a bit like getting a microwave or a serious chef's knife - once you get it you can't go without.

A couple of years ago I got a twelve piece set from Ruffoni and they are fantastic. They were second hand but never used and priced at a fraction of the MSRP or what you'd find in the Williams-Sonoma catalog (otherwise I wouldn't have them). A full set is not really necessary, I'd go with a small saucepan for starters. The big stockpot and the paella dish are a bit hard to handle because they are so heavy, at least they have two handles.

I like copper because it is so extremely responsive to heat and because it looks so damn good in the kitchen. But there are many times when a non-stick skillet, iron pan or aluminum pot is simply a better choice for the job. My set has a tin lining which is fine but it is easily gouged with a metal tool. All things being equal, I'd go with a stainless steel lining.

Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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I was wondering about the tin versus stainless steel innards. That's very useful information.

Is it true that copper won't work on an induction stove top? Why? I've been trying to whine my way into convincing my husband that we need to replace the induction stove/oven that came with our house, and I'm thinking that's still going to be an ongoing process. Maybe if I whined louder and more frequently....

And actually it was for him I was thinking of starting a new cookware collection as he's started to cook quite a bit these days. We have an older set of Wolfgang Puck's stuff, which we've really liked, but those were more mine, and I'd like to encourage him to feel more proprietary about the kitchen. I think he'd like the heft and the look of the copper cookware. Starting with one or two pieces is sort of what I'd settled on for now. But if it won't work on an induction stove, then, well, phoo. Then again, maybe that would help in convincing him to consider a whole new range that much sooner.

Thanks so much for the feedback.

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Copper is pretty, but from what I've read you won't get its performance benefits unless you're cooking with gas. Are you? My electric coils are slow to heat up and slow to cool down again, and I find that they are the limiting factor on my ability to change temperature quickly in a saucepan or skillet. Yes, I can lift a pan up or slide it partway off the coil until a coil cools down, but it doesn't work as well as being able to adjust the flame. So in my case, I decided that copper would be overkill.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Is it true that copper won't work on an induction stove top? Why? I've been trying to whine my way into convincing my husband that we need to replace the induction stove/oven that came with our house, and I'm thinking that's still going to be an ongoing process. Maybe if I whined louder and more frequently....

Induction cooktops only work on magnetic materials (and they need to have flat bottoms for good contact). Copper isn't magnetic. There may be copper pans with a magnetic layer, but I don't know that the copper would contribute much benefit other than appearance.

Question for the copper aficionados: how easy is it to keep clean? My Revere copper-bottomed pan, inherited and older than I am, tarnishes within a week of being cleaned.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Copper is pretty, but from what I've read you won't get its performance benefits unless you're cooking with gas.  Are you?  My electric coils are slow to heat up and slow to cool down again, and I find that they are the limiting factor on my ability to change temperature quickly in a saucepan or skillet.  Yes, I can lift a pan up or slide it partway off the coil until a coil cools down, but it doesn't work as well as being able to adjust the flame.  So in my case, I decided that copper would be overkill.

Okay, this is really helpful. I'm actually considering buying my husband one really good copper piece for his birthday, just to start (and in addition to another gift because the one copper piece he can't use right now would just be mean) and as a sort of incentive to push him along to finally agreeing we'll buy a new gas range which we both want but have been putting off for too long.

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This is all explained in great detail in my cookware class: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=25717

and in the associated Q&A thread: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=25718

Short answers:

- You do not want a tin lining, in my opinion, because the cost of the inevitable re-tinning will more than make up for any difference in price, and you can't use high heat cooking techniques.

- Copper is valued for, among other things, its responsiveness. If your heat source is slow to respond, then you are effectively taking away one of copper's main advantages. The pan can only respond as fast as the heat source. This argues for a different material if you have an electric stove.

- Copper is not magnetic, therefore it doesn't work with induction. A good solution for induction is Mauviel's Induc'Inox line, which has a stainless steel exterior with an inner layer of magnetic carbon steel.

--

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Question for the copper aficionados: how easy is it to keep clean?

As soon as you decide that tarnish isn't dirty ... it's "patina" ... copper becomes very easy to keep clean ;)

Some other thoughts on the stainless vs. tin issue:

-Tin melts at about 450 degrees F, so you can't use it for very high heat cooking. no high temp roasting, blackening meat, or long unatended preheating.

-Tin linings will wear out. Pans can be retinned, but there are fewer and fewer people who do this. You may have to send the pans away for a while and pay real money.

-Tin is more conductive than stainless steel; some people say they can tell the difference and prefer it for very sensitive temperature control.

-There's a greater variety of tin lined copper cookware, because anything can be lined with tin. You'll see some much thicker pans (3 to 4mm), hand-hammered ones, strange shapes, etc..

The stainless lined ones are made from material that is already laminated, so it's only available in just 3 thicknesses (the thickest one, 2.5mm, is the only one to consider).

Notes from the underbelly

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This is all explained in great detail in my cookware class: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=25717

and in the associated Q&A thread: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=25718

Short answers:

- You do not want a tin lining, in my opinion, because the cost of the inevitable re-tinning will more than make up for any difference in price, and you can't use high heat cooking techniques.

- Copper is valued for, among other things, its responsiveness.  If your heat source is slow to respond, then you are effectively taking away one of copper's main advantages.  The pan can only respond as fast as the heat source.  This argues for a different material if you have an electric stove.

- Copper is not magnetic, therefore it doesn't work with induction.  A good solution for induction is Mauviel's Induc'Inox line, which has a stainless steel exterior with an inner layer of magnetic carbon steel.

Thank you. I was just over reading that thread as you were entering this.

I suppose I should have prefaced this whole thing differently. I was aware when I posed the question of the basic conductivity issues regarding copper, and so I suppose I should have stated that already. But I wanted to get some feedback from folks as to preferences, etc., whether their experiences with various cookware might say something about how I might think about the issue for my own kitchen.

The gas vs. induction/electric is a whole nother issue I hadn't considered, though, and that was worth the price of admission.

I've saved your lesson to a file. I should send you a check.

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Different pans in different materials will appeal to different people with different habits and uses.

Some people won't mind the cost and usage limitations associated with tin linings, for example.

Other people want to have cookware they can put in the dishwasher (which you can't do with copper).

Some people can't stand the look of patinated copper and aren't willing to invest the maintenance time.

And so on...

Personally, I've got a very wide collection of cookware materials and designs and tend to go back and forth in my preferences, depending on what I am cooking and what strikes my fancy. These days, I'm getting a lot of use out of my extra-thick carbon steel curved saute pan.

--

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Do not get copper unless you have a gas cooktop with good output burners - no less than a true 6-8 thousand btu.

That being said, I have a lot of copper cookware, some purchased within the past several years, some purchased thirty years ago and some that I inherited and that was originally fabricated in the 1800s.

I intend to pass it on to my daughter and grandchildren, just as some of mine came to me from my great-grandmother.

It's expensive, do get the stainless lined. I prefer Bourgeat, the professional line, but there are other brands that are perfectly fine. I like the fact that many of the vessels that should have a lid are sold with the lid, not separately. However, that is simply personal preference.

There are lots of cleaners but I do just fine with half a lemon and a dish of salt - to put a fine shine on it (or remove some of the pesky burnt-on spots), I use dry baking soda and a barely damp cloth.

Get one piece, perhaps a fry pan or a mid-size sauce pan, something you will use almost every day. And see how it works for you. Then add necessary pieces, again, that you will use often, piece by piece.

That way you will not end up with something that hangs around looking pretty but doesn't contribute to your pleasure.

"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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I sold my copper cookware on ebaY in a fit of economic epiphany once( the epiphany was that the rent was due and the income wasn't!), and haven't really missed it over the years. I mostly liked the paella pan, and that thing was so darned heavy once it was full of paella or chicken and rice! :shock: The one thing that I really DO miss is my big copper bowl- it's true, what people say- egg whites fluffed up in that better than anything! I've almost bought another one a few times, in fact, I did, once, but promptly put it on ebaY when I realized the profit involved. (I'm not sorry, but I DO intend to keep the next copper bowl!) :rolleyes:

PS:Here's the guy I used to retin 2 pans some years ago. I sent them to him by post, he came recommended from another happy customer. He did a great job, his name was Anthony.

Metal Man Restoration

254 East Third Street

Mount Vernon , NY 10550

914-662-4218

edited by me to add: He was moving, he may have moved again since, I'm not sure, this was 2005.

Edited by Rebecca263 (log)

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Different pans in different materials will appeal to different people with different habits and uses.

Some people won't mind the cost and usage limitations associated with tin linings, for example.

Other people want to have cookware they can put in the dishwasher (which you can't do with copper).

Some people can't stand the look of patinated copper and aren't willing to invest the maintenance time.

And so on...

Personally, I've got a very wide collection of cookware materials and designs and tend to go back and forth in my preferences, depending on what I am cooking and what strikes my fancy.  These days, I'm getting a lot of use out of my extra-thick carbon steel curved saute pan.

I never put pots and pans in the dishwasher. Not that I'm agin it, just that it seems a waste of space, and anyway slopping around in the sink with pots and pans is sort of pacifying for me.

And not that I'm wedded to the notion of particular cookware only insofar as its visual appeal goes, but I am a little weary of the one-note look of what we have, which is nearly all hanging over the kitchen island. But I'd like to mix it up a bit.

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I like the fact that many of the vessels that should have a lid are sold with the lid, not separately. However, that is simply personal preference.

Just to provide the counter-view: I prefer the exact opposite. I don't see any reason to spend big bucks on a hard-to-clean lid made of copper/stainless bimetal when it does not confer any cooking advantage whatsoever. A 9.5 inch copper/stainless lid can add as much as 100 bucks to the price! Rather, I like to buy high quality stainless steel lids of the appropriate size for 1/4 the price or less. I also find that, as a general rule, I don't need a separate lid for every pot: I'm not likely to use three 11-inch lids simultaneously, so I only have two. If I really decided I needed another 11-inch lid, I could easily pick one up for 20 bucks or so.

There are lots of cleaners but I do just fine with half a lemon and a dish of salt - to put a fine shine on it (or remove some of the pesky burnt-on spots), I use dry baking soda and a barely damp cloth.

In my opinion, one of the great advantages of Falk Culinair is that it has a brushed finish, which means that you can use things like Bar Keeper's Friend to keep the exterior bright. This is far easier than things like copper polish or lemon juice and salt.

And not that I'm wedded to the notion of particular cookware only insofar as its visual appeal goes, but I am a little weary of the one-note look of what we have, which is nearly all hanging over the kitchen island. But I'd like to mix it up a bit.

This argues in the direction of the approach I favor: figure out what piece you use the most and would most like to replace, make an individual decision as to price, cookware design and cookware materials, and then buy that one piece. See how you like it. Later on, figure out what the next piece is that you use the most and would most like to replace. Repeat process. You'll end up with a collection of cookware made of different materials and designs that suit your cooking style. Too often people decide they want some fancy new cookware and end boiling water in a $150 saucepan that they could have done perfectly well in a $30 saucepan.

--

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There are lots of cleaners but I do just fine with half a lemon and a dish of salt - to put a fine shine on it (or remove some of the pesky burnt-on spots), I use dry baking soda and a barely damp cloth.

In my opinion, one of the great advantages of Falk Culinair is that it has a brushed finish, which means that you can use things like Bar Keeper's Friend to keep the exterior bright. This is far easier than things like copper polish or lemon juice and salt.

I agree that if you like the look of the brushed finish, it is much easier to keep.

(I can't use Bar Keeper's Friend because I have breathing difficulties with Oxalic acid. I keep a can of Bon Ami on hand but seldom need to use it.)

"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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Shouldn't that induction stovetop work quite well with cast iron though? My parents used to have an induction top and from what I recall it was went together with cast iron very well. Heating was very quick etc. Cast iron isn't that pretty but it is cheap and cooks things well. main downside is that it is so heavy and of course if you want the pan to drop in temperature quickly.

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Copper is valued for, among other things, its responsiveness.  If your heat source is slow to respond, then you are effectively taking away one of copper's main advantages.  The pan can only respond as fast as the heat source.  This argues for a different material if you have an electric stove.

No argument [my emphasis]. Having used the Falk 'Try me' saucier on both our Blue Star monster and on a scruffy little electric coil range I'd say that the ability of the copper to heat evenly is as much of a boon on the coils as over the flame. No other pan I have [clad-cored stuff included] is as sauce-friendly. The All-Clad MC2 might work as well, but I don't have one, and the price is close to copper.

This:

...figure out what piece you use the most and would most like to replace, make an individual decision as to price, cookware design and cookware materials, and then buy that one piece. See how you like it. ...Repeat process. You'll end up with a collection of cookware made of different materials and designs that suit your cooking style. Too often people ...end boiling water in a $150 saucepan that they could have done perfectly well in a $30 saucepan.
ought to be printed on cards and given to folk on their way into kitchen supply stores everywhere, I think :smile:
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I used to think copper was all hype until I started using it. One of the shops here was discontinuing their Bourgeat line so had it on sale; I bought a few pieces, used them and went back the next week to buy more. I love it, not just because it cooks so well but also for the pleasure of using something so beautiful. I don't polish it (well, I haven't yet - I will eventually) because I don't mind the look of the tarnish. It was still frightfully expensive, even at 25 per cent discount - in fact, my credit card company called me right after the second purchase to see if I had just been at the PanHandler shop.

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What about Tyler Florence's new line, Real Deal tri-ply copper cookware? Anybody know anything about it?

eta: also, browsing a site selling Ruffoni, I came across this notice about some of the products: "California Prop 65 Warning: 'Products sold on this site including the brass used on the handles of Ruffoni Cookware may contain chemicals known to the state of California to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm.'"

Which of course gave me pause. Can anyone elucidate a little further?

Edited by devlin (log)
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Pretty sure that the brass MAY contain some lead or if there is any solder it might contain lead. Nothing I'd worry about, one of those "lets put a warning on anything containing trace amounts of ...". I'd worry much more about falling down the stairs, drowning, being hit in traffic etc. If I am not mistaken that warning goes for powercords etc since someone could take the cord, open it up and suck on the solder.

I wouldn't worry about it.

http://www.caanet.org/AM/Template.cfm?Sect...CONTENTID=14438

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Pretty sure that the brass MAY contain some lead or if there is any solder it might contain lead. Nothing I'd worry about, one of those "lets put a warning on anything containing trace amounts of ...". I'd worry much more about falling down the stairs, drowning, being hit in traffic etc. If I am not mistaken that warning goes for powercords etc since someone could take the cord, open it up and suck on the solder.

I wouldn't worry about it.

http://www.caanet.org/AM/Template.cfm?Sect...CONTENTID=14438

Ah, that makes sense. Thanks!

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Shouldn't that induction stovetop work quite well with cast iron though?

Yes, but cast iron has its own issues. It conducts heat very slowly and has a ton of thermal mass. So even if an induction cooktop could heat the pan quickly, there's no way to cool it quickly. It's not responsive. So it's good for browning and blackening, where heat capacity are important. And for slow simmering (like with dutch ovens) where temps are held constant. But lousy for saucepans and saute pans and other things where you need control.

And there's the issue of the surface. Bare cast iron can be seasoned and has some nonstick qualities. But it's a reactive surface that can transfer color and flavor, and it can be problematic with acidic ingredients, and it can even partially come off if you deglaze the pan. Enameled cast iron is nonreactive, and great for some things. But it's only ok for browning (poor conductivity), only ok for deglazing sauces (pan drippings sometimes float off with the oil), and it can crack from sudden heating or cooling or rough treatment.

Notes from the underbelly

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