Wednesday, September 10th, 2008 at
Many cooks proudly display their gleaming copper cookware, hanging them from decorative pot racks instead of hiding them away in closed cupboards and cabinets as is the fate of so many other kinds of cookware. But is there more to copper than just a pretty appearance? Is it worth the expense? Find out in this guide to copper cookware.
Why is Copper Such a Popular Material for Cookware?
The popularity of copper cookware does not totally stem from its beauty, but also from the unique properties of this handsome metal. Copper is a great conductor of heat, which means that it offers a gentle, even heating which avoids hot spots, sticking, and burning. It also heats quickly, saving cooking time, and cools quickly, preventing delicate foods from becoming overcooked. Furthermore, the efficient heating means that you won’t need as much heat, letting you save money on energy.
What Should you be Cooking in Copper Cookware?
Delicate sauces, risottos, and sautés are great to cook in copper pots and pans, because you can keep such a light touch with the temperature. Copper responds so quickly that you can reduce a sauce from a boil to a simmer in just a few seconds. Although you can cook any kind of food in copper cookware, there is no better type of material for cookware that requires a very precise touch.
Is Copper Cookware Safe?
Copper alone is not a safe material to use in cooking. It is toxic, and can actually poison you, especially when cooking with acidic or vinegary foods. For this reason, most copper cookware is lined with a layer of tin or stainless steel, which prevents the copper from leeching into your cooking.
Tin adheres very well to copper, and if the lining begins to wear away, it can be professionally restored. Stainless steel linings might bubble or warp over time, and if they do, the pan is ruined.
How Can You Select High-Quality Copper Cookware?
If you are choosing cookware for your kitchen, you want to be able to discern which pieces are truly high in quality without relying solely on sticker price. Aside from the lining, a good copper pan should be thick and heavy, and it should have a strong handle that will be able to withstand the weight of the copper pot or pan for years to come