Although copper is a lovely type of cookware which has unparalleled temperature control and heat conductivity, it has one major disadvantage – it tarnishes extremely easily. Here are some tips on caring for your copper cookware that will help you to keep your beautiful pots and pans gleaming and bright.
Using Copper Cookware Safely
Copper cookware is a pleasure to use, but it is also expensive to replace. Luckily, with proper care, copper pots and pans can be used for many years. Some tips to help increase the lifespan of copper cooking utensils include:
- Avoid using metal spatulas or cutting food items in the pans with metal knives. This can damage the interior lining of the pans.
- Salt can also damage the stainless steel or tin lining of your copper pans. Don’t let salt water stand in your cookware for an extended period of time. When adding salt to water for pasta and similar dishes, wait until shortly before the water boils to add the salt.
- If your copper pans are lined with tin, be sure to keep the heat under 450° F or you can melt the lining.
- If you have cast-iron handles on your cookware, season them with a thin layer of olive or vegetable oil regularly. This will build up into a protective layer over time, which will prevent corrosion of the handles.
- Never put a copper pan over high heat when it is empty.
Cleaning Up After You Cook
Copper should never be put into the dishwasher. Instead, it should be cleaned with a synthetic or nylon scrubbing pan and gentle soaps. Filling the pan with water when it is still hot and scraping with a wooden or plastic spatula will remove stubborn food. Be sure to dry your pans thoroughly, as water droplets on the copper can make unsightly stains.
If you use copper cookware, it will tarnish with time. Some people do not mind the darker patina that forms with the tarnish, feeling that it is the sign of a true cook. If you would like to keep your copper bright, however, use a non-abrasive commercial copper cleaner or create a paste from flour, salt, and water to polish the outer area.
Repairing and Re-tinning Copper Cookware
Over the years, the inner lining of copper pots and pans can become scratched or pitted. This puts you at risk of copper leaching into your foods, which can be dangerous for your health. The risk is higher if you are working with acidic foods.
If your pans are lined with tin, you can have your pans re-tinned and returned to their original usefulness. This is usually much more cost-effective than purchasing new pots and pans. You can tell it’s time for repair when the copper starts to shine through the tin.