When trying to decide how to prepare your favorite recipe, it can be hard to decide what to cook it with. There are so many types of cookware to choose from it can be downright overwhelming. Cast iron, stainless steel, aluminum, nonstick, enameled. All of these options have their own pros and cons, so choosing the right one can be a challenge.
But one type of cookware stands above the rest: Copper. Copper cookware is maybe the best, most effective, and definitely the most lustrous cookware available on the market today.
So, if you have been trying to decide if you should pull the trigger and purchase a copper pot, pan, or even a whole kitchen set, read on for the six benefits of copper cookware!
Cook Like the Egyptians
You may think the world revolves around you, but you are not the first person to consider cooking with copper! Far from it, in fact. While it is hard to pin down when exactly the material became popular, copper cookware pieces date back as far as 9,000 BC.
The use of copper became more prevalent during ancient Egypt. The Egyptians replaced stone with copper as the material of choice when making cooking vessels and tools. Copper was used as water and oil containers and was even crafted to be used in medical practices. Even back then, the Egyptians understood the antimicrobial properties of copper and used it to sterilize wounds and drinking water.
If you think of France when you see copper cookware, you wouldn’t be wrong. Mauviel, the leader in copper cookware, was founded in Normandy in 1830. Other famous brands followed suit and set up shops in France, selling beautiful copper cookware to cooks at home and abroad.
One such cook was Julia Child. After singing the praises of copper’s heat distribution, copper cookware became popular in American kitchens. Long before the renaissance that copper experienced in the States, however, a gentleman by the name of Paul Revere was smithing copper near his Boston home.
Copper Linings Playbook</h2>
Copper can become toxic in high doses and, while it is rare, it has led to a rise in lining copper with tin and other materials. With that in mind, there are a few twists on classic copper cookware that you should be aware of as you start to shop for your next set of pots and pans.
The Tin Man
Lining copper cookware in tin is a technique that has been used for hundreds of years to prevent copper from seeping into our food. This is because tin bonds chemically with copper and is very malleable, making a beautiful lining. It also doesn’t react to acid and is relatively nonstick.
Tin linings do eventually wear out due to their low melting point. Some people will send their cookware to be relined, and some companies that sell these items will provide a refinishing service when their pieces wear out.
Be Steel, My Beating Heart
Because of tin’s low melting point, stainless steel has become the favorite choice for lining copper cookware. Not only is stainless steel more cost-effective, but it is also more durable.
Copper can be lined with stainless steel or be used as a base on a stainless steel piece. A base plate made from copper is fused to the steel body in these cases through impact bonding. The high conductivity (more on that soon) makes the pan or pot heat more evenly and reduces hotspots.
Since these are more hard-wearing than tin, you can use metal utensils without the fear of scratching your copper investment.
Food loves to stick to stainless steel, though, so keep that in mind. Uncommon, but worth mentioning, if the steel lining decouples from its copper shell, there is nothing you can do to easily fix it.
Advances in the manufacturing process have made it possible to combine different materials resulting in cookware that has three layers. These layers have their own unique properties.
- The copper layer allows the outer surface to heat quickly and evenly.
- The aluminum layer provides a lightweight core that retains heat.
- Lastly, the stainless steel layer offers a highly durable cooking surface.
No Coats or Jackets
You can also go for a copper pot without a coating. These pots are perfect for making jams if you’re into that kind of thing. If you have a sweet tooth and consider yourself a bit of a pastry chef, these uncoated pots are best for making syrups, caramels, chocolates, and other sauces due to the heat conductivity of pure copper.
Bare copper is actually the preferred cookware when making jams since there is enough sugar in a jam to keep the acid from having a reaction with the metal. Bare copper is also great for eggs due to the sulfur atoms in the egg whites that resist bonding too tightly.
If using bare copper, make sure to stir with a wooden spoon since metal ones will scratch the shine of the copper.
Copperware Are You Now That I Need You?
Now that we have gone over the history and variations of copper cookware, let’s start to list some of the benefits of these wonderful kitchen classics.
1.) Getting Hot in Here!
There is probably no better conductor of heat available in your kitchen than copper cookware (unless you have some silver cookware laying around). Copper is a conductor of heat and one of the best at that! Copper heats up very quickly and does not require any preheating like cast iron.
If you are cooking with copper, you should have your food ready to go before you turn on the burner. When you adjust the dial on your stove, the temperature of the cookware will change quickly. This is a very helpful feature for certain cooking methods like browning. It also makes for faster cook times and more efficient meal preparation.
Copper cookware also cools incredibly fast. When you take the piece off the burner, the food inside will cool quicker, allowing for more control over the food you prepare.
2.) Even Stevens
Because copper is such a great conductor of heat, it also cooks food evenly. This is key when trying to avoid those pesky “hot spots” you might find in your other cookware. Heat is evenly distributed uniformly through the cookware base. This results in an even cook that is perfect for searing or any dish that requires a specific consistency. Look to copper for an even cook, every time.
3.) Here for the Long Run
Copper cookware is durable and should last for several years. When it is lined with other metals, it can be one of the most robust cookware options on the market. As mentioned, some copper cookware even comes with a refinishing service for when it starts to show signs of wear and tear. From the jump, copper cookware is more substantial and solidly constructed than most other kitchenware you will come across.
The weight of copper cookware is also of note. Copper pots and pans will sit securely on a stove and are also light enough to be picked up when filled with food and water.
4.) Stove Appeal
Speaking of sitting securely on a stove, copper cookware is so beautiful you will want it in a place of pride. Most people will hide their pots and pans inside the stove or buried in a cabinet, and you might think you will do the same with a copperware set. But when you see these pieces’ beautiful gloss and shine, you will want to have them out in the open.
Copper cookware has a shine that begs to be hung up or placed on top of your stove. Having these works of art on display will make your kitchen feel like a five-star French restaurant. They will also be a great conversation piece when hosting your next dinner party.
The aesthetics of a copperware set has value in and of itself and can have the added benefit of making you want to cook more often and better so that you live up to the quality of your set.
5.) A Safer Non-Stick
People are starting to become aware of the dangers associated with non-stick pans and pots. Kitchenware labeled “non-stick” is sometimes coated with perfluorochemicals (PFCs) which can negatively affect your body’s natural systems and pose health risks. PFCs can also contaminate the environment.
Copper cookware does not rely on PFCs to remain non-stick. Instead, copper can be infused with tin to give your pot or pan an ideal non-stick surface without added chemicals.
6.) Hi Gene!
And anyone else reading that may be wondering about copper cookware’s hygiene. As mentioned earlier, copper is antibacterial, and bacteria cannot survive on its surface. Copper is toxic to these microorganisms but non-toxic (in low amounts) to humans.
So, those are the main benefits of owning copper cookware. Copper cookware is a beautiful addition to any kitchen and will make you the envy of all your foodie friends. With its ability to cook food quickly and evenly, copper cookware should be considered the next time you are in need of a kitchenware update.