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Copper vs Stainless Steel Clad Cookware: Is it worth the $$$?


Shel_B
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The last time I found out how much it costed to re-tin, I gave all my copper pots and pans away.

 

 

dcarch

Tinned copper is a different story. The stainless clad stuff doesn't require more maintenance than any other cookware. I might treat it a little nicer than I treat the all-clad, but that's just because I don't consider it replaceable. Other than that they get fundamentally the same treatment: detergent and water, and sometimes a scrubbing of BKF on the inside. I usually don't even bother drying the outside. The copper looks like old pennies, which is fine by me.

Edited by paulraphael (log)

Notes from the underbelly

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Over the years I've read it twice.  As good as the article is, it could use an update/

 

I don't think anything's changed fundamentally. There may be some thicker brands of clad cookware, but to know what difference to expect we'd need to saw them in half and measure. Nathan Myrhvold has a budget for this kind of thing, maybe he can chip in.

 

With a thicker conductive core, a pan will behave more like a disk-bottom pan. More evenness, more heat capacity, and worse responsiveness. 

 

You can ignore descriptions like "5-layer" and "7-layer." It's marketing drivel. The only things that matter are the thickness and material of the conducting layer, and the total thickness of the cladding. 

Notes from the underbelly

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With a thicker conductive core, a pan will behave more like a disk-bottom pan. More evenness, more heat capacity, and worse responsiveness. 

 

You can ignore descriptions like "5-layer" and "7-layer." It's marketing drivel. The only things that matter are the thickness and material of the conducting layer, and the total thickness of the cladding. 

 

And that more even heating and heat capacity may be just what's needed.  I like the D5 All-Clad for those reasons, and because it's not so responsive - ideal for the uses I put the pans to - I want more or less steady heat.

 

5- and 7-layer pans (in my experience) work because, almost by definition, they are thicker and heavier.  If that's what you want.  I'd prefer a more responsive pan for a skillet.

 ... Shel


 

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And that more even heating and heat capacity may be just what's needed.  I like the D5 All-Clad for those reasons, and because it's not so responsive - ideal for the uses I put the pans to - I want more or less steady heat.

 

If you don't want a responsive pan, then I wonder why you would spend the money on something like All-Clad.  If you're using it to boil water, for example, thin stainless steel will do that just as well.  If you're searing steaks, cast iron or carbon steel will do it better.  The reality is that there aren't so many things where a straight gauge clad pan is needed.  For the most part, this sort of design does best with things like reduction pans, saucepans that are actually used for sauce-making, small (1 - 1.5 quart) pans where heat coming around the sides might cause hotspots around the outside, and frypans if you don't want a seasoning metal.

 

 

5- and 7-layer pans (in my experience) work because, almost by definition, they are thicker and heavier.  If that's what you want.  I'd prefer a more responsive pan for a skillet.

The point Paul was making is that five and seven layer pans are not thicker and heavier by definition.  It all depends on the thickness of the layers.  For example, let's say you have a "five layer pan" that has a 0.4 mm external layer of stainless, then a 0.05 mm layer of pure aluminum, then a 1.4 mm layer of aluminum alloy, then a 0.05 mm layer of pure aluminum, then a 0.04 mm internal layer of stainless.  This might compare to a "two layer pan" that has 3.6 mm of aluminum on the outside with an interior lining of 0.4 mm stainless steel.  The "five layer pan" not only has a thinner layer of thermal material compared to the "two layer pan," but has twice the amount of stainless steel.  The fact is that pans promoted as having a zillion layers almost always involve some marketing mambo-jumbo where a micro-thin layer of bonding metal is counted as a "layer" in order to increase the layer count.

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If you don't want a responsive pan, then I wonder why you would spend the money on something like All-Clad.  [...] For the most part, this sort of design does best with things like reduction pans, saucepans that are actually used for sauce-making, small (1 - 1.5 quart) pans where heat coming around the sides might cause hotspots around the outside, and frypans if you don't want a seasoning metal.

 

Perhaps I should have said I don't always need a responsive pan.  I have the heavier D5 All-Clad in the 1.5 quart saucepan and the 8-quart soup pot.  They are used mostly for making and heating sauces, making soup and stew, with the big one used like a Dutch oven sometimes.  For example, I recently made a beef stew and used the 8-quart on the stovetop and then in the oven.

 

The point Paul was making is that five and seven layer pans are not thicker and heavier by definition.  It all depends on the thickness of the layers.  For example, let's say you have a "five layer pan" that has a 0.4 mm external layer of stainless, then a 0.05 mm layer of pure aluminum, then a 1.4 mm layer of aluminum alloy, then a 0.05 mm layer of pure aluminum, then a 0.04 mm internal layer of stainless.  This might compare to a "two layer pan" that has 3.6 mm of aluminum on the outside with an interior lining of 0.4 mm stainless steel.  The "five layer pan" not only has a thinner layer of thermal material compared to the "two layer pan," but has twice the amount of stainless steel.  The fact is that pans promoted as having a zillion layers almost always involve some marketing mambo-jumbo where a micro-thin layer of bonding metal is counted as a "layer" in order to increase the layer count.

 

By my definition they are <LOL>  You're just making up numbers to make your point.  Since I actually own some 5-ply pans, and they are of the same manufacturer as my 3-ply pans, I can directly compare weight and thickness both with my other pans and a friend's tri-ply All-Clad of the same 8-quart capacity and configuration.  And no, I didn't measure the thickness of the pans with a micrometer - I just used my eyes and could see the difference in thickness - it's obvious, at least with the pans I have access to.

Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel


 

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Since I actually own some 5-ply pans, and they are of the same manufacturer as my 3-ply pans, I can directly compare weight and thickness ...

 

You can't. You can only indirectly infer it, because you have no idea how much of the thickness is taken up by the conductive aluminum on the inside. This seem like a minor point but it's a major one. In many pans the thickness of the stainless cladding (a very poor performer, from most cookware perspectives) makes up a surprising portion of the thickness. 

 

You really, truly, absolutely can ignore the number of layers claimed by any manufacturer. If there is ever a correlation between that number and the thickness, it's purely incidental. The thickest conducting layers you'll ever find are on disk-bottom pans, which are often 2-layer.

Notes from the underbelly

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You can't. You can only indirectly infer it, because you have no idea how much of the thickness is taken up by the conductive aluminum on the inside.

 

Have you ever examined a D5 pan?  It's very easy to see the individual layers and judge their total thickness. It's also easy to see the individual layers on the standard tri-ply All-Clad pots and pans that I have.

Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel


 

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That information still doesn't help you compare to another brand. Consider that all clad pans have a pressed lip at the edges, which can distort the relative thickness of the layers where the edge is visible. And some companies (like Demeyere) make clad pans with bottoms that are a different thickness than the walls.

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Sometimes (and sometimes often) people don't want to listen to those who know more about a specific subject, like the knowledge you and Sam possess about cookware. You just gotta let it go.

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How comparable is SS lined thick aluminum to SS lined copper? ... I'm comparing the Sitram Profiserie saute pan versus getting a SS lined copper pan.

The thickest copper bimetal pans in current production are 2.3mm of copper with a SS lining that runs to 0.2mm.  I don't think the Sitram core is that thick, although Profiserie is very good clad.

 

My simplistic rule of thumb is that good aluminum wares need to be half again as thick as good copper.  I say simplistic because copper is superior at conducting heat, yet aluminum (by weight) is better at holding it.

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I have a zillion heavy cooper pans.  Im pleased i was able to get them in FR in the '80's  they are very heavy.

 

time though has passed them by.  I do love them, but one thing about a 3 mm copper pan that comes up the sides that thick:

 

the pots take forever to heat up water, say.  because the sides radiate that heat into the kitchen.

 

nice on a hot humid summer day in N.E.

 

although w careful thought, evey home ""Chef"" should have one heavy copper pan.  a 'fry' pan or a saucier.

 

for the experience  and the pleasure of its use.

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I got my first stainless steel lined Bourgeat saucier - 2.5 liter  pan when the SS lined pans were first introduced and it is HEAVY.   5 pounds, 10.4 oz.  

It is 10.2 inches in diameter at the (flared) rim - the current catalog lists a 9.5" and I have not compared them side by side to the newer ones but when I picked one up in a store, to me it felt lighter. 

When I purchased it the care instructions indicated that the copper body was 2.5 mm plus the stainless steel liner. 

Then, of course, there is that cast iron handle which is thicker and longer than the handles on my old tin-lined copper pans - which are also heavy, but similar size pans are not as heavy as this one.  

 

I really love this pan and use it more than any other because I am used to the way it responds to heat, a balloon whisk exactly matches the interior contours of the pan and it is deep enough to beat things vigorously without spraying the stuff out.

 

HPIM6306.JPG

HPIM6309.JPG

 

I'm willing to "make-do" with some item in the kitchen but I have yet to find another pan of this shape and size (and I have tried many, from very expensive to fairly cheap) that works as well for ME and for this I will not compromise.

 

As in many things, your kitchen tools are personal preference and my personal wishes have been honed during 50+ years of cooking but I'm not going to tell anyone else what they should use.  One of my good friends is still using a set of Revereware purchased in the 1960s and has served her well while raising five children and three grandchildren.  She does have one cast iron skillet used exclusively for frying chicken...

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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the above pan is the one to get.  they didn't make these in '85 when I slinked up to 

 

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

 

I have 15 of the heavy 3 mm + pans, 4 of the thinner 2.+ mm pans.  these have lips.  the 3's do not.  lips Count

for a lot !

 

Copper 1.jpg

 

note the true saute pan. The first one in the pic.  its 9 1/2 " in diameter, weights > 3 Kg.  Ive used it 2 or three

 

times when it first arrived home.  Arnold, when he was Juiced, couldn't get anything to jump in it.  However, 

 

Im really glad i have all these pans.  the 9 1/2 " pan is now a home for retired spiders.  Look close, you can 

 

see their feeble webs.  they enjoy this pan.  its not going anywhere soon.

 

 Copper 2.jpg

 

here are some of the pans 'Racked'.  I love them dearly.  note the two very early All Clad Sauciers on the 

 

bottom.  I use them a lot.

 

if you have an Eagle Eye, you have noted one pan 'position' on the rack is empty.  Second row down, far l

 

left.  You get a Copper Star.

 

its this one:

 

Copper III.jpg

 

it gets used more often, as a base for my 'drip' set up.  I don't drink a lot of drip, but sometimes take a break

 

from the AlexiaPID.  It takes 4 minutes in the Micro to boil water in a Pyrex measuring cup.  in the mean 

 

time, the 8" saute 3 mm pan on low gas  ( very low gas ) get the Melitta toasty for the drip.  The gas gets 

 

turned off if I can remember when the drip starts.  Nice Hot Coffee, albeit drip.

 

The picture was taken outside, as its a Beautiful day in New England.  Also my stove top 'need a bit of 

 

elbow grease as my mother used to say.

 

so

 

you love cooking ?  got a jones for some cooper ?  get the saucier of medium size and you can love it just]

 

as much as I love my ( larger ) collection.  total price to me in '85 :  a little over 300 dollars.  D's shipped to

 

Kennedy via Air France for pocket change. They had an arrangement.  only to Kennedy NYC.  Ballast I 

 

think.  On Stand By.  Actually they supplied a lot of the stared rest. in NYC.  11 F.F. / dollar.

 

I was thinking as I was accumulating these treasures at the D's counter, of snapping up a 3 " thick

 

asparagus pot.  these are tall, and the asparagus stand up at attention while it cooks.  I didn't get it.  it was

 

maybe 15 dollars.  My father had a touch of angina, he was the french speaker, 

 

so I thought it best to take a break and sit at a nearby cafe.  Just as well.   I probably would have gotten 30

 

pots and loved them all.

 

You can love one or two just as much.

 

and no lie, Im very grateful I have these pans.  It was a unique experience.  I dont have a Cooper Jones 

 

any more ...

 

The Old Spiders like them, as do the Dust Bunnies.  Look Close.

 

Rats !  I dont have a Cooper  Saucier !  3 " mm thick of course

 

:huh:  have to re-think that Jones

 

im also grateful for the 2 all clad  sauciers i have.

 

On Sale !  too pricy now.

 

 

 

 

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the above pan is the one to get.  they didn't make these in '85 when I slinked up to 

 

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

 

I have 15 of the heavy 3 mm + pans, 4 of the thinner 2.+ mm pans.  these have lips.  the 3's do not.  lips Count

for a lot !

 

attachicon.gifCopper 1.jpg

 

note the true saute pan. The first one in the pic.  its 9 1/2 " in diameter, weights > 3 Kg.  Ive used it 2 or three

 

times when it first arrived home.  Arnold, when he was Juiced, couldn't get anything to jump in it.  However, 

 

Im really glad i have all these pans.  the 9 1/2 " pan is now a home for retired spiders.  Look close, you can 

 

see their feeble webs.  they enjoy this pan.  its not going anywhere soon.

 

 attachicon.gifCopper 2.jpg

 

here are some of the pans 'Racked'.  I love them dearly.  note the two very early All Clad Sauciers on the 

 

bottom.  I use them a lot.

 

if you have an Eagle Eye, you have noted one pan 'position' on the rack is empty.  Second row down, far l

 

left.  You get a Copper Star.

 

its this one:

 

attachicon.gifCopper III.jpg

 

it gets used more often, as a base for my 'drip' set up.  I don't drink a lot of drip, but sometimes take a break

 

from the AlexiaPID.  It takes 4 minutes in the Micro to boil water in a Pyrex measuring cup.  in the mean 

 

time, the 8" saute 3 mm pan on low gas  ( very low gas ) get the Melitta toasty for the drip.  The gas gets 

 

turned off if I can remember when the drip starts.  Nice Hot Coffee, albeit drip.

 

The picture was taken outside, as its a Beautiful day in New England.  Also my stove top 'need a bit of 

 

elbow grease as my mother used to say.

 

so

 

you love cooking ?  got a jones for some cooper ?  get the saucier of medium size and you can love it just]

 

as much as I love my ( larger ) collection.  total price to me in '85 :  a little over 300 dollars.  D's shipped to

 

Kennedy via Air France for pocket change. They had an arrangement.  only to Kennedy NYC.  Ballast I 

 

think.  On Stand By.  Actually they supplied a lot of the stared rest. in NYC.  11 F.F. / dollar.

 

I was thinking as I was accumulating these treasures at the D's counter, of snapping up a 3 " thick

 

asparagus pot.  these are tall, and the asparagus stand up at attention while it cooks.  I didn't get it.  it was

 

maybe 15 dollars.  My father had a touch of angina, he was the french speaker, 

 

so I thought it best to take a break and sit at a nearby cafe.  Just as well.   I probably would have gotten 30

 

pots and loved them all.

 

You can love one or two just as much.

 

and no lie, Im very grateful I have these pans.  It was a unique experience.  I dont have a Cooper Jones 

 

any more ...

 

The Old Spiders like them, as do the Dust Bunnies.  Look Close.

 

Rats !  I dont have a Cooper  Saucier !  3 " mm thick of course

 

:huh:  have to re-think that Jones

 

im also grateful for the 2 all clad  sauciers i have.

 

On Sale !  too pricy now.

One time I would have been so green with envy you would not have believed it. Now there are days when even lifting my wine glass is a challenge (one I've always met I'm pleased to say). And the pride of my life is a GE profile induction range. Copper has lost all its appeal even as decorative objects. It will continue to appeal to a very few people but like ice boxes and wringer washers its best days are behind it. I am glad though that you do not disturb the spiders. Nostalgia has its place.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

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"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

My 2004 eG Blog

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""  best days are behind it.""

 

"" the pride of my life is a GE profile induction range ""

 

I send you so many Kudos for that Induction Range.

 

it was a bit difficult for you to get it .....

 

but you did the right thing

 

induction, w enough amps is the way to go now.

 

pleased you have been able to get right on the Front Line

 

I can't even see the front line.

 

i have a SteamBoy, and a Vaccum sealer 

 

Im very happy to get them

 

I havent used them Much   ( not yet ! )

 

Kudos North  of My Border.  

 

:biggrin:

 

I have not mentioned the 2 copper Bain-Marie's I have.

 

just saying.    15 $$ self wrapped to the Tours  PO with my Mother, who had to speak politely for 30 min w the PO master 

 

,,, that same one saw in Manhattan at the same time approx   for 175 $$  USA  '85

 

that one   ( I have two  med-small and med-big )

 

made more 

Béarnaised

and 

 

Hollandase

than you can imagine.  

 

and i will tell you this : its not better w the same ingredients  than a bowl over water.

 

just more fun.

 

Happy cooking !

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One that I can no longer easily lift, even when empty - but is a wonderful preserving and candy pan, is this round-bottom "sugar" pan  that requires a wok ring.  I had a free-standing propane burner (like the ones made for deep frying turkeys) with a ring in which the pan sat securely.  It has bronze handles and was made just before the turn of the last century.

 

I've made jams and preserves in stainless steel and enamel on cast iron pots and in my personal opinion, the bare copper simply works better at cooking the preserves with no hot spots.  I have a smaller one for making caramel.

 

Preserving pan antique.JPG

Preserving pan antique1.JPG

Preserving pan antique2.JPG

 

I also have this tin-lined soup kettle. It's a 14 quart.  I've taken very good care of it, the tin lining is fully intact - I've only used wood or silicone utensils in it. 

Again, it is too heavy for me to lift when it is full of soup or stew - age and arthritis has limited my activities.  I decided I have to part with it so it is on ebay.  I do much better with a wider and shallower pot which is easier to ladle from.

Ruffoni 14 Quart stew pot.JPG

Edited by andiesenji (log)
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"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 noticed tonight that umamimart has just started importing Asahi copper tamagoyaki pans.  Not sure if they are tinned or lined with stainless steel.  My guess is they are lined with stainless steel.

 

Umamimart also has some other Asahi copper pots.

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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One that I can no longer easily lift, even when empty - but is a wonderful preserving and candy pan, is this round-bottom "sugar" pan... 

 

attachicon.gifPreserving pan antique.JPG

 

 

 

 

Hi, Andie:

 

 What make is your preserve pan?  The shape looks Belgian to me.  Perhaps Pommier Bruxelles?

 

 What stories this pan must have to tell!  Be sure to pass it along to someone who will add some chapters, rather than use it only as a showy beverage/kindling tub.

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Copper has lost all its appeal even as decorative objects. It will continue to appeal to a very few people but like ice boxes and wringer washers its best days are behind it. I am glad though that you do not disturb the spiders. Nostalgia has its place.

 

You better alert the chefs at the state kitchens of France.  I don't think they got the memo.

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the issue is not using cooper pans, I use mine still somewhat.

 

its buying cooper pans new starting out.  those chefs in FR had those pans when they showed up as will their replacements.

 

Bon Appett.

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Hi, Andie:

 

 What make is your preserve pan?  The shape looks Belgian to me.  Perhaps Pommier Bruxelles?

 

 What stories this pan must have to tell!  Be sure to pass it along to someone who will add some chapters, rather than use it only as a showy beverage/kindling tub.

I'm assuming it was made in France as that was where it was purchased in 1899 by my grandfather as a gift for his mother.  It is fully hand-hammered, only the bronze handles are castings.  It's possible it was made in Belgium, but I can't say for certain.  In the summer kitchen (detached from the house) where I grew up, there was a low coal or wood stove with a round "lid" which was at least twice the size of those on regular kitchen ranges and that was where this pot was used to cook preserves, jams, jellies and etc.  The only time it was fired up during the winter was before the holidays when there was a lot of candy-making.  I remember this being used to cook big batches of molasses for making taffy.

"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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In the summer kitchen (detached from the house) where I grew up, there was a low coal or wood stove with a round "lid" which was at least twice the size of those on regular kitchen ranges and that was where this pot was used to cook preserves, jams, jellies and etc.  The only time it was fired up during the winter was before the holidays when there was a lot of candy-making.

 

Wow, what great memories!  And a family heirloom, to boot.

 

As a young boy, I was captivated whenever my grandmother cooked on my great-grandmother's wood cookstove.  There was something primal about it--it involved all of the senses, and you had to prepare for it.   I vowed that one day I would have one, learn its cadence, apprentice to its dampers and drafts, and feed it well.  I finally found my stove 2 years ago  (and a house to put it in), and it's been an absolute joy to cook on.  I smile to myself every time I "adjust" the heat by moving pans.  Trivets, warming cabinets, a cavernous oven--features no longer generally available.

 

You mention the "lids"...  I recently discovered how well my pow wok sits down into the firebox.  Above a good coal fire, I can get as good wok hei as over my gas wok burner.

 

Do you have other pans with histories similar to your preserve pan?  If you tell me you have a family jamboniere, I'll be terminally jealous.  

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No jamboniere, that I know of  (not sure what that is).  I have quite a few inherited antique or vintage cooking vessels.

I have several cast iron skillets, baking pans, bowls and a very old dough trough - made from a huge chestnut burl all in regular use.

 

I have several copper saucepans with lids that have the long handles - those are French from the '20s and '30s, all tin lined and I have had them re-tinned a few times.  In fact I used a kit for re-tinning them myself once - not too successful - it requires expert handling. 

 

I like cooking with copper because I have been doing it for a long, long time and I know what to expect.  As I said in an earlier post, it is strictly personal preference - how a handle fits your hand, how responsive the pan is for a particular task.

I don't care all that much about appearance - although there is something about the glow of copper that appeals to me but I don't have to have it highly polished all the time. 

"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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It's clear that a lot of us love our heavy coppy copper pans ... there's no arguing with that. The question I'm considering is if I'd recommend them to someone who'd tohave to buy them new. And I can only think of a couple of circumstances where I would. This is because the benefits are not going to make a major, quantifiable difference, and the costs are huge.

 

I'd recommend them to someone with money to burn who just loves them for whatever reason. Or to someone  serious about saucemaking. For this I'd recommend a single slope-sided or curve-sided saucepan, 1.5 to 2 liters.

 

For just about everyone else, I'd suggest good cookware that costs half as much and that will do induction. Use the savings for an immersion circulator or two, a pressure cooker, and other things that will actually give new powers in the kitchen. 

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