Is Copper Cookware Actually Useful or Just for Show?

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The moment of using a new pot or pan is a cooks dream. Many home cooks are used to common cookware materials such as aluminum, stainless steel, and cast iron. However, a material that was is somewhat underrated in the cooking world is copper. The use of copper cookware is mainly used in high-end restaurants and popular amongst advanced home cooks. While the material is priced higher and requires more maintenance than standard cookware; it does have benefits that can make the splurge worthwhile.

The advantages

Visually appealing

Copper Cookware

From the shiny appearance of copper and the classic french style it provides, nobody can say it’s not great to look at. Copper has a substantial but not too heavy weight, which is great for display purposes by either open shelving or hung on hooks.

Heating

As stainless, aluminum and cast iron interact with heat differently; so does copper. The most significant advantage of owning copper cookware is the way it conducts heat. The material is quick to heat up and provides an even surface temperature in which no spot on the pan cooks faster than the other.

More temperamental food options such as fish and sauces are ideal for cooking with copper. Since copper is responsive to temperature changes on the stove, it makes the chances of scorching or over overcooking your food diminish greatly.

The Disadvantages

Cost

The great visual aspect, heating advantages, and the overall material of copper does not come cheap. A quality pan will set you back around $200, while a full set will be over $1,000. If your looking to spend less, consider spending money on one or two pieces that you are going to use more frequently. If taken care of properly, you should get years more use out of your copper cookware than other common cookware.

Maintenance

Copper cookware cannot be cleaned in the same ways as which stainless and aluminum can. With copper, hand washing will be necessary as a dishwasher will cause tarnishing. Also, no abrasive sponges can be used as this will damage the lining of the cookware. The use a soft cloth or sponge with your favorite gentle dish-soap is recommended. After washing, thoroughly hand dry to prevent oxidation from happening.

Every so often, take some lemon juice, vinegar, or copper cleaner and remove any tarnish from your cookware. This must be done more frequently if cookware is used more often.

Tin vs. stainless lined copper?

With the use of tin and stainless lining, copper cookware can be safely used to cook your food. Without this protective lining, copper particles can leach into your food; which if consumed in high amounts can be toxic. The layer can be thin or thick and still allow for that excellent heating element without the toxic possibility.
Here are the pros and cons of the two options:

Tin

-Has to be re-tinned every 15 to 20 years
-More prone to damage
-Can’t be left empty while on heat
-Naturally non-stick
-Less expensive

Stainless

-More expensive
-More durable (can use metal utensils such as whisks without damage)
-Lasts longer

When choosing copper cookware, it is essential to make sure that it contains at least 90% copper and not just coated for appearance reasons. Also, a thicker lining of tin or stainless will furthermore extend the life of your copper cookware.

Here are our picks of copper cookware:

Cuisinart Copper Collection 8-pc

Cuisinart Copper Collection 8-pc.

$430

Lagostina Martellata Hammered Copper 10-Piece

Lagostina Martellata Hammered Copper 10-Piece 

$499

Mauviel Copper 12-Piece Cookware Set

Mauviel Copper 12-Piece Cookware Set

$1,900

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