Collecting Copper Pots and Pans

When decor, collecting and use mix happily…

There are many options for cookware. Personally, I could not make it without my cast iron but there are so many options all with their plusses – enameled, cast iron, stainless steel, carbon steel, aluminum, nonstick, and copper – and they all have vastly different uses and price points.

The cost of copper cookware can be intimidating but lets face it – its fabulous on display. And when you consider the decor value plus its use value- its the hands down winner. Here are some things you need to know and consider. I sell several Brands of copper that are contemporary. But we also have a good sized collection of antique and vintage copper.

Because its easy to control its temperature, copper pots are perfect for melting chocolate and candy makingBecause its easy to control its temperature, copper pots are perfect for melting chocolate — Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Because of its heat conducting properties, copper heats up quickly and evenly. So you don’t have to worry about hot spots. Copper cookware is great for when you need to control and maintain consistent temperatures. This means you don’t have to use as much heat to get it cooking. If a recipe calls for medium-high heat with your regular cookware, use medium-low for your copper.

Copper is not great for high heat. It is best for delicate proteins such as fish and sauces which is why it has traditionally been preferred by professional chefs.

Julia Child infamously stocked her kitchens in Cambridge and Provence with the wares of Dehillerin in Paris.

Copper is a reactive metal. In most cases, that means it will have a chemical reaction to what you’re cooking so most copper pots and pans are lined with a non-reactive metal like tin or stainless steel.

Buying new ? You will be getting the heavy duty stainless steel which can stand up to a lot of abuse from utensils. If you’re purchasing older, used copper pieces, you will almost certainly be dealing with tin. Tin gives your copper a great, non-stick surface to work with, but the melting point is around 450 °F’ so cook low.

Tin is also easily scratched and chipped with metal utensils and harsh scrub brushes. It’s best to use wooden spoons and softer utensils when working with tin-lined copper cookware. On the other hand, older pieces have a fabulous luster so finding a great item that needs to be re-tinned is just fine. You can go to https://eastcoasttinning.com/ and calculate the cost of re-tinning and polishing a pot. As long as it doesn’t have any holes in it, it’s relatively easy to return your copper cookware to its former glory- if it is tin lined. Stainless Steel that is damaged must sadly remain a No Buy. When antiquing remember tin will discolor unevenly sort of in patches and be discolored. Stainless will have concentric marks where applied. Some people eye the rim, if you see silver on the rim, it can be assumed to be tin or nickel.

So where someone else may pass up a pot in need of tinning- you can find a treasure that will last you a lifetime.

Martha Stewart’s Collection- mixing antique, vintage and new

Keep that Shine…

A bit of lemon juice or vinegar can revive your copper’s shine or some salt and half a lemon (but do not scour! gently polish and let the acidity do the work) or some Bar Keepers Friend and a soft cloth. I am a salt and lemon girl but Spider (the chief polisher) swears by Wright’s Copper Paste. But before you polish, you must clean. So soap and water, a good soak sometimes makes the work easier.

Antique Mauviel on display and you can visit the factory outlet on your way to Mont St Michel

If you want an eco friendly version you can try

DIY Copper and Brass Cleaner

  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 3 tablespoons salt
  • Enough white vinegar to form a loose paste

If you suspect that the piece is lacquered, test a part of the bottom with a bit of nail polish remover to see if there is a thin layer on there. It needs to be removed before you cook in it. It was common in the 1960’s to lacquer the items for display use so that polishing was unnecessary.

and lastly, you may wish to forgo polishing all together. “In the case of copper, a patinated surface is becoming harder and more thermally efficient,” says Mac Kohler of Brooklyn Copper Cookware. “Professional chefs cultivate a good, dark patina as one does bloom on wine grapes; it improves what the thing is supposed to do.”

See our copper collection on Chairish

New Copper can be found on DGD Home Catalog

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