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Copper Cookware Is Chef’s Choice

Copper has been used for cookware for millennia. A copper frying pan more than fifty centuries old is on display at a museum at the University of Pennsylvania. Today, copper cookware is the preferred choice of many of the world's professional chefs.

Copper has two great advantages for cookware. It has high heat transfer, higher than any other material used for cooking. Copper will go from room temperature to cooking temperature more quickly than other metals. Copper also heats more uniformly than other metals do, so pots and pans have no hot spots to burn food. This is especially important for range top cooking, where the food must be cooked at precisely controlled temperatures. Also, some chefs find that egg whites and whipping cream beat to fluffier peaks in a copper bowl.

Copper cookware is also valued for its durability. Copper resists warping, even when used under high heat. Heavy copper cookware is usually 2.5 millimeter thick, but 2 millimeters is the most popular thickness.

Most copper cookware is lined with tin or stainless steel. Occasionally, copper reacts with the acid in foods and causes discoloration of the food. Very rarely, copper will leach into food during cooking, and results in nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. A lining lets cooks have full advantage of copper’s heating abilities without worry. Worn linings can be retinned.

According to the Cookware Manufacturers Association, most of the all-copper cookware in the USA is made overseas. The Hammersmith Corporation, located in Brooklyn, is the only manufacturer of solid-copper cookware in the USA. Professional cookware ranges from 0.090 to 0.125 inch in thickness, and home cookware ranges from 0.064 to 0.080 inch.

Copper cookware requires more maintenance than many other kinds. It should not be placed in the dishwasher or left to air dry, because this causes spotting. Unsealed copper is a living surface. Inside the home, it ages to a warm, rich brown with hints of blue and purple. Many homeowners value this look, but if you like the bright, shiny color of new copper, you can keep your copper cookware bright without sealing it. This can be accomplished by rubbing the surface with salt and lemon wedges, and then rinsing thoroughly. Performed once a month, this routine will allow only a light patina to develop. You can also use a commercial copper cleaner, but be sure to wash off the chemicals carefully before cooking.

Some copper cookware is sold with a lacquer finish to protect the bright, shiny look of new copper. This finish can be left on if the cookware is to be used for display purposes only, but it must be removed before cooking. Several commercial lacquer strippers are available for this purpose.

Beautiful, durable, and efficient - copper cookware is ideal for profession and home cooking.

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