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


Shel_B
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To my eyes, tarnish patina says "these are pans. They get used." Polished copper says "these are trophies."

Hi, Paul:

 

  Looks can be deceiving.  If you visited my kitchen at the 2-3x a year I polish, you'd get the wrong idea.  Also, if I get drip marks, I've been known to give my pans a quickie with  Bar Keeper's Friend 'twixt polishes.  Slop marks look... well... sloppy.

Edited by boilsover (log)
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Sure, impressions can be wrong. I've seen restaurant kitchens in Paris and NYC where some poor worker had to polish all the pans every night. And I have a close friend who was both a serious cook and a compulsive polisher. I laughed at him, but he ignored me (he finally stopped when mom heard him polishing over the phone. "David," she said, "stop polishing your pans and go out and make some friends.")

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Notes from the underbelly

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Waaaay back when, as 1st year apprentice, we had to polish the tin plated copper pots and pans that we used for serving entrees in.  Our standard was a paste made of flour, vinegar, salt, and of course, elbow grease.  Me, being a few years older than the 15 yr old 1st years, and  a "Auslander Kanadier" to boot, figured it was a waste of time.  Since we had to work alone from 2-5 pm, I'd fill the big 80qt steam kettle with tepid water and a good splash of vinegar, a handful of salt, and dumped all the service ware in.  Pickle brine made a good substitute as well.   After a good 20 minute soak, I'd pull them out and wash in clean water. Since we never cooked in the pans (flimsy thin guage stuff) they never got grungy or burnt on with crud, just tarnish. Things went pretty good for a few months until one day the Chef came in during the afternoon, had a peek in the big kettle, and freaked out.  I assured him it didn't harm the service ware as I had been doing it for several months.  That didn't go over too well....  

 

I visited my Chef a few years after completing my apprenticeship, he was 6 mths away from retirement, and I brought him a big bottle of maple syrup. I had a peek in the 80 qt kettle, the (deleted) (deleted) had instructed the apprentices to polish the copper ware  "Nach Kanadische Art" (Canadian style).  Apparently  he instructed 1st years to do this a few weeks after I completed and left....

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 "I've seen restaurant kitchens in Paris and NYC where some poor worker had to polish all the pans every night. And I have a close friend who was both a serious cook and a compulsive polisher."

 

Neither anecdote exactly illuminates your point above about polished copper pieces being "trophies" that don't get used.  I'm sure there are many tarnished trophies which aren't used, and there are many pans polished after every use as a way of showing pride of place or sorting employee wheat from chaff.

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That was my point. I know there are a million counter-examples. I still think that polish sends a different message than tarnish ... based on what I see most often. And I personally prefer the tarnish. It's all just esthetics.

Notes from the underbelly

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That was my point. I know there are a million counter-examples. I still think that polish sends a different message than tarnish ... based on what I see most often. And I personally prefer the tarnish. It's all just esthetics.

 

 

OK, I thought your point was that polished pans convey they are unused wallhangers, whereas tarnished pans convey their owners use them.  My bad.  

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  • 1 year later...

I'd been wanting a larger sauteuse, or whatever you call it, than my Falk.  Just recently I found Sitram Cybernox has been resurrected, at least in Japan, and I considered one:

 

http://forums.egullet.org/topic/124823-sitram-cookware/?p=2025320

 

 

But Cybernox, as much as I love the piece I own, has bottom disc construction and is not particularly conductive on the sides.  This ruled out Cybernox for the purpose, though I may still opt for another piece.

 

I ruled out Falk because the size I have is as heavy (or slightly heavier) than I can use.  Also I wanted something I could throw in the dishwasher.  Interestingly I believed my Falk was the smallest size, but tonight I measured and it is 18 cm.  Falk offers a 14 cm and a 16 cm.  Basically all I use my Falk for is egg based sauces, but then again I have a fondness for egg based sauces.  Hmm.

 

Meanwhile I noticed Williams Sonoma has a sale that ends tonight, so rather than agonizing further I purchased Demeyere:

 

http://www.demeyere.be/default.asp?CID=8363&SLID=1

 

 

The sale brought the Demeyere cost down close to the cost of the similarly sized Falk.  I know Dave once described the Demeyere Pawson designed handles as "inexcusable" -- but should I find this so I am confident Williams Sonoma will gladly take it back.  The handle looks OK to me in the picture.

 

I've never owned Demeyere and I'm not sure how their multilayer material compares to any other brand, or to steel lined copper.  But I guess I shall find out.

 

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I'm sure you'll be happy with this Pawson--it's really good clad.

 

But IMO, Demeyere is fibbing more than a little when it says of it:  "They have the same properties as the heavy, old-fashioned copper pots that required more maintenance and are not really suitable for our modern kitchens."  It is neither as responsive, nor as even.

Edited by boilsover (log)
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  • 2 months later...

 

Have you also salivated over deBuyer's Prima Matera line? 

 

 

 

Yes I have... so I bought one this weekend. I decided to go for the 24 cm rounded saute pan since that has the size and volume I tend to use most. 

 

Of course I have only used it briefly so far and can't give an extensive review. However, it is not to heavy to handle even when filled to the rim, and the stainless steel handle does not get to hot to handle -- which is a definitive advantage over my cast iron cookware. So far the cooking characteristics are great -- but there's a range of things I haven't tried including high heat :)

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""  deBuyer's Prima Matera line ""

 

this stuff seems to be cheaper in France.

 

Im wondering if after shipping and VAT discounted the final price would be " on your stove "

 

the EY prices seem to have gone up a fair amount since i last checked

 

http://eshop.e-dehillerin.fr/en/copper-inox-induction-copper-xsl-243_269.html

 

these pans and a professional induction top would be the Cat's Meow in therms

 

Serious Stuff.

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""  deBuyer's Prima Matera line ""

 

this stuff seems to be cheaper in France.

Well, I paid 323 Euros for it in France (Beaune) -- but bought in a real shop where I could hold a whole lot of copper and other cookware in my hands and compare. Certainly, the Prima Matera line is top quality.

 

these pans and a professional induction top would be the Cat's Meow in therms

We're changing our kitchen, but I am still undecided what induction hob to go for. I am strongly tempted by a free-zone one, but they are still on the expensive side, thou prices have been coming down. On the other hand, considering what I invest in cookware the price of the hob is of course reasonable ;)

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was it this one ?

 

http://eshop.e-dehillerin.fr/en/induction-copper-curved-saute-pan-24-cm-xml-243_269-1243.html

 

this is the one Ive been thinking about for a long time.

That's exactly the one I bought. Very solid with 2 mm copper (well, I guess 1.8 mm copper and 0.2 mm stainless steel -- and the additional magnetic steel at the bottom for induction) but not unwieldy or exceedingly heavy.

 

 

fvandrog

 

well, Im going to be Tossing and Turning for quite some time :

 

 

I wonder what this sort of thing costs  

 

+ electrical work

I have looked at the Siemens, the Miele and the Gaggenheim ones. Between 3000 and 4500 Euro are the prices I have seen. That's down 1000 bucks compared to a year and a half ago. We'd like to have a new by the years end ideally, so I don't have the time to wait for prices to descend further. The good thing is that these seem to be the second generation free zone cook-tops; I have nothing against being an early adapter but am not too keen on running into the quirks of brand new electronics in a kitchen bought for 10+ years.

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That's exactly the one I bought. Very solid with 2 mm copper (well, I guess 1.8 mm copper and 0.2 mm stainless steel -- and the additional magnetic steel at the bottom for induction) but not unwieldy or exceedingly heavy.

 

 

I have looked at the Siemens, the Miele and the Gaggenheim ones. Between 3000 and 4500 Euro are the prices I have seen. That's down 1000 bucks compared to a year and a half ago. We'd like to have a new by the years end ideally, so I don't have the time to wait for prices to descend further. The good thing is that these seem to be the second generation free zone cook-tops; I have nothing against being an early adapter but am not too keen on running into the quirks of brand new electronics in a kitchen bought for 10+ years.

 

 

So that copper induction pan really benefits from the copper? I thought induction pans benefit from the actual induction process and a bonus of using induction is that the cheap pans like the IKEA pans works just as well since you are using induction and not a flame. Pretty sure the guys at ChefSteps just use cheaper well built pans as they only cook on induction. I know a bunch of people who switched to induction and were thrilled they could just buy cheaper pans and still get wonderful results due to the induction cooktop.

 

Maybe I am way off base though.

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So that copper induction pan really benefits from the copper? I thought induction pans benefit from the actual induction process and a bonus of using induction is that the cheap pans like the IKEA pans works just as well since you are using induction and not a flame.

I'd argue that the positive effects are additive. Induction provides fast heating in any case, but the presence of hot spots depends on the size and the distribution of the coils in the hob as well as the thermal conduction characteristics of the pan.

Pretty sure the guys at ChefSteps just use cheaper well built pans as they only cook on induction. I know a bunch of people who switched to induction and were thrilled they could just buy cheaper pans and still get wonderful results due to the induction cooktop.

I am convinced that a good cook gets much better results using cheap pans on a bad electric hob than a lousy cook with the best copper pans on a great induction hob :) That said, I am happy to exploit the advantage using copper on induction might bring.

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some of the IKEA lines of pots and pans are remarkably good.

 

Id only get the copper-blend for shallow work :

 

saucier and saute.

 

Im betting that coppers contribution is as a heat diffuser so the actually surface has an even temp.

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I guess I thought that the induction cooktops interact with the pan and affect all of the metal (even going up the pan) so in my mind induction pans were completely evenly heated throughout (bottom and side). I guess only the bottom of the pans are heated by the cooktop and then the heat needs to spread to the sides of the pan. Copper makes sense then, especially to combat hot spots that I didn't really realize occured with induction tops.

Edited by Robenco15 (log)
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I guess I thought that the induction cooktops interact with the pan and affect all of the metal (even going up the pan) so in my mind induction pans were completely evenly heated throughout (bottom and side). I guess only the bottom of the pans are heated by the cooktop and then the heat needs to spread to the sides of the pan. Copper makes sense then, especially to combat hot spots that I didn't really realize occured with induction tops.

 

There are at least three issues here. 

 

One, the induction field essentially only heats the bottom (the field falls off as a function of the inverse of the square root).  This is unlike gas (and to a lesser extent electric coil), which tends to flow heat up and around the pan.  Any induction-generated heat you expect to reach beyond the floor must be conducted there by the pan itself or the food.  Which leads us to...

 

Two, very few induction-capable pan lines contain substantial thickness of conductive material up the sidewalls.  And only a few $$$ lines even contain substantially thick disk bases.  Folks debate whether conductive sidewalls are necessary, but if you think they are even desirable, you are compromising by going with induction over copper or aluminum fired by gas.  Manufacturers of clad do this for several reasons, chief among them being a lack of responsiveness when you swaddle a truly thick conductive core in steel.  The other reasons have mostly to do with saving money by tricking consumers.

 

Three, there is a coil under the black Ceran induction surface.  It is generally round, and produces a torus-shaped (donut-shaped) magnetic field.  This coil is almost always smaller than the painted ring on the Ceran.  This can, on MOST units, result in a colder central spot and periphery, i.e., a "ring of fire" effect.  If you don't appreciate this, make a "scorchprint" by dusting a pan with four and turning up the heat--the shape of the small ring will clearly translate up through the pan in the form of a scorch.

 

Help is on the way, though.  I believe sometime in 2016, a new technology will be applied to cookware manufacture which will dramatically increase conductivity of induction-compatible wares.  This will largely solve evenness and responsiveness problems that bedevil existing clad designs.  Stay tuned... 

Edited by boilsover (log)
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I am really trying to let go of shit in an effort to have a really nice uncluttered kitchen ….I was trying to figure out a candy pot in another thread and found these pots in a box from ..ok almost 30 years ago? (this is the first time in my marriage I am unpacking EVERYTHING)

 

anyway  think these pots are way too thin compared to Rotuts photos in this thread ..they look like copies of good pots to me..I did not buy them they were a gift and second hand when given ..they came with pot racks and looked like something out of an old Sunset magazine to me …

 

but if they are decent enough to get a feel for how it feels for cooking with copper ? I will try it? the only copper i have ever tried is on the bottom of pots. 

 

so be brutal if they are crap tell me and out they go ..if it is worth a try to cook with them then I have nothing to loose there either 

/http://21866118319_84c995d66e.jpg

 

21864840090_368295e4c6.jpgsee how thin they are? 

 

they are unmarked and that and how thin they are ? 

 

thanks so much in advance 

 

ETA I found a tiny mark and stamp "solid copper" made in Korea probably in the 70's they were given to me when we wed win the service stationed in Panama ..good grief 

Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)
why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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the rolled edges/rims indicate they are probably on the thin side.

 

here's why copper nuts go off on their tangents, time to time:

first, copper transmits heat better than all the common materials.  only solid silver is better/faster at heat transfer/'distribution

second, copper does not "hold" heat as much/as well as other materials.  this translates to:  copper is "responsive" - it heats up and and it cools down fast, as the dude/dudette requires.

 

'how thick' is an important consideration.  the copper flashed Revereware bottoms really don't do much in the area of fast heat transfer.

 

the induction top people are very bonkers over how fast it heats up / cools down - well, ditto for the copper people.

the benefits of copper are largely lost on electric coils.  the coils react (ie heat up / cool down) much much slower than the copper.

 

'what's the best cookware' is not a valid question because the real question is:

'what's the best cookware for _________(fill in the task)'

 

you can easily do a few "tests" to see if you think they will help:

- tomato soup, heat it up without burning anything

- any kind of a roux based sauce, make without noted hot spots/crudding up

- chili / thickened beef stew, cooked/heated through with no stuck on bits

- bacon strips, sizzling end to end without undercooking spots.....

 

above all else, I would not recommend trashing them - you may well find an interested buyer.

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the rolled edges/rims indicate they are probably on the thin side.

 

That's interesting. I have some Matfer Bourgeat copper that has rolled rims (although not that rolled like the pictures above), and that is definitely thick copper (2.5mm). I'm sure the older pans though are completely different though.

 

Love my copper stuff and didn't even consider buying any of it until I had a gas stovetop. Completely wasted on electric coils. I also agree, it's all about "what is the best cookware for _____________"

 

Mauviel and Matfer Bourgeat makes some of of the best pieces. Here is a great place to get Mauviel at a fantastic price - http://www.previninc.com/shop/Mauviel-Copper-Cookware.html

 

And here is a place for Matfer Bourgeat - http://www.culinarycookware.com/matfer-bourgeat-copper-cookware.html

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There are at least three issues here. 

 

One, the induction field essentially only heats the bottom (the field falls off as a function of the inverse of the square root).  This is unlike gas (and to a lesser extent electric coil), which tends to flow heat up and around the pan.  Any induction-generated heat you expect to reach beyond the floor must be conducted there by the pan itself or the food.  Which leads us to...

 

Two, very few induction-capable pan lines contain substantial thickness of conductive material up the sidewalls.  And only a few $$$ lines even contain substantially thick disk bases.  Folks debate whether conductive sidewalls are necessary, but if you think they are even desirable, you are compromising by going with induction over copper or aluminum fired by gas.  Manufacturers of clad do this for several reasons, chief among them being a lack of responsiveness when you swaddle a truly thick conductive core in steel.  The other reasons have mostly to do with saving money by tricking consumers.

 

Three, there is a coil under the black Ceran induction surface.  It is generally round, and produces a torus-shaped (donut-shaped) magnetic field.  This coil is almost always smaller than the painted ring on the Ceran.  This can, on MOST units, result in a colder central spot and periphery, i.e., a "ring of fire" effect.  If you don't appreciate this, make a "scorchprint" by dusting a pan with four and turning up the heat--the shape of the small ring will clearly translate up through the pan in the form of a scorch.

 

Help is on the way, though.  I believe sometime in 2016, a new technology will be applied to cookware manufacture which will dramatically increase conductivity of induction-compatible wares.  This will largely solve evenness and responsiveness problems that bedevil existing clad designs.  Stay tuned... 

 

 

Thank you for the response. I love my gas stovetop and copper pans. Induction is appealing to me more so in the way that not every house I look into buying may have gas, so I could always install an induction since it would have electricity. But I think I'd prefer gas more.

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