How to Cook in Copper

Copper pots and kitchenware are beautiful to have in your home, but is it easy to care for and cook with? Check out these tips to learn how to cook in copper and enter to win beautiful copper cookware.

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How to Cook in Copper

We love the look of copper, but copper pots and pans can be more than just decorative. Don’t let a copper cookware simply hang on the walls of your kitchen, but never touching your stove.

For solid tips to cooking with copper, we checked in with Jim Hamann, a restorer of old-fashioned copper wares. The Cornell grad is known for his tinning craft and even has his work in use in top kitchens around the country, like Eleven Madison Park. To market his passion, Jim has founded East Coast Tinning where he is dedicated to restoring heirloom copper ware. Eventually, Jim began creating new items meant to last just as long as their vintage counterparts.

How to Cook in Copper

Head over to Jim’s website to see more vintage copper cookware and for help fixing up pots you already have.

Be sure to enter to win some copper cookware of your own above and read on for tips and characteristic.

Have Everything Ready

Copper is well known as the high performance metal on which to cook. Get ready for slightly faster cooking times and a more consistent result due to the even heating and quick response of copper. Because the pan will heat quicker and cook faster, be sure to have your ingredients ready to go!

Cook with Med-Hi Heat

If you are new to copper, try using Med-Hi heat as a maximum for a few cooking sessions. Copper heats up very quickly. Using a Med-Hi heat will help you learn the idiosyncrasies of your new cookware without worry.

Use Wooden or Silicone Utensils

The tin lining of copper cookware is a soft. To avoid scratching the beautiful tin cooking surface with
steel utensils, opt for wooden or silicone instead.

How to Cook in Copper

Do Not Preheat Copper Pots

Since copper conducts heat so well, it heats up very quickly. The tin lining can and will melt in as little a minute. So – if you are going to turn on the flame, have SOMETHING in the pan, even if it is only your olive oil or butter. If the phone rings and you get distracted, the oils in the pan will burn and smoke BEFORE the tin lining melts, so it will be protected.

Skip Searing in Copper Pans

The tin lining of copper pots melt at only about 450 degrees F. To sear meats at high heat, choose cast iron, aluminum, or stainless steel cookware.

Copper in the oven? No problem!

Even at a high temperatures, using your copper in the oven is not a problem. The liquid water in the food will keep the temperature of the pan at 212degrees F (the boiling point of water) until all the water is gone.

Skip the Scrubbing

For foods cooked onto the pan, try filling the pot with water and a bit of dish soap then simmer for 15 minutes. You’ll be amazed how easily it cleans up. For additional assistance, use a bamboo scraper. The bamboo is strong enough to help clean the pan, but isn’t hard enough to scratch the tin. Less elbow grease and less wear on the tin!

How to Cook in Copper

Polish Often

If you don’t polish for 6 months, you’ll be in for a polishing workout. Polish after each use and it will be fast and easy.

Here’s a chef’s secret recipe for a food-based copper polish. Make a batch of the following and keep it in a container under the sink. A quick polish after washing will take about 30 seconds extra time:

Dissolve
1 T salt in
1/2 cup white vinegar

Add enough flour to make a thin paste (think Elmer’s Glue consistency)

After washing the pan, dip a moist paper towel in the polish and wipe on the copper (30sec). Wash off with soap & water, then dry well to prevent water spots.

Can’t stand polishing? Don’t stress!

Copper retains its heat transfer characteristics even when it is not looking its best. That soft penny copper tarnish is a great look too. There is nothing in the equations of heat transfer that depend on the “polish” of the copper.

Don’t Hang Copper Above the Stove

The steam and grease spatter will make a mess of your gorgeous pans and make polishing a REAL chore. Hang them away from the stove or over an island.

Tin Lining Changes — It’s Ok

The tin lining will get darker and change color depending on what you cook in the pan. Just let it go. Resist the urge to scour it shiny again, as you’ll be scouring away a bit of that tin lining at the same time.

Honest Cooking

Honest Cooking

The Honest Cooking editorial team handpicks inspiring culinary stories to share with you that we think are beautiful. As an international online culinary magazine with the ambition to truly change the face of online food media we hope to create an inspiring place for serious culinary debate, salivating recipes, interesting food news and international food-fun.

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3 Comments
  1. My great-aunt had copper pots and they always hung in the same spot on the wall in her kitchen. I told her once that I would love to have them someday. She is now in a memory care facility at 98 years old and I was given her copper pots. I just used the sauce pan for the first time today to make turmeric paste. I have a sauce pan, a smaller sauce pan that looks like you would melt butter in it, what looks like an grautin (?) pan and a little frying pan about big enough to cook a fried egg in. These pans are filled with love and memories for me!!! I feel very lucky to have them.

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