cooking with copper

I've read that copper pots should be heated up slowly. Does this mean you start it on a low flame and keep it there or start it on a low flame and slowly raise it?

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Merrill Stubbs
Merrill Stubbs May 24, 2012

Usually heating something slowly involves keeping it at a low flame, but I'm not familiar with this particular recommendation for copper pots.

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bigpan
bigpan May 24, 2012

I've used copper pots for 30 years with no problem. You can put on a hot flame, but note that because copper carrys heat so well you don't need higher temps.
Look at the edge of a pot to see if it is thick with copper (good) or just a thin outer layer of copper (rip off). Also, avoid tin lined pots as the tin will melt and is not good for you to ingest!
Don't be alarmed that copper discolors with heat, either accept it or get used to polishing regularly. Since I have about 15 pieces I don't polish often.
Since mine have lasted this long it is obviously a good investment.

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pierino
pierino May 25, 2012

bigpan, is correct. Old fashioned copper pans were lined with tin, and yes if heated too high the tinning will begin to melt. Today it's easy to find stainless lined copper pans. As bigpan mentions, the pleasure of using copper is how well they distribute heat without hot spots, so yes you can set the burner lower.

Shoshanadh
Shoshanadh May 24, 2012

OK Thanks. Bigpan, what are your pots lined with?

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alienor
alienor May 24, 2012

I have 4 copper pots lined with stainless that we bought in paris at dehellerin. this is the place that it was said where julia childs bought her pots and pans. i have had them for over 4 years and i find them great to cook with. they transfer heat so well and clean up easily. now i am not talking about the outside i rarely polish them, just wash and clean. they are so very heavy and because of good heat transfer i rarely burn anything in them. if i had more room i would definitely get more. right now i have a large and medium saute pan, a fry pan and a 1 1/2 qt sauce pan. i just put them over the gas flame and let it go. i have never slowly heated them just use them as usual. i highly recommend copper for sauteeing.

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bigpan
bigpan May 25, 2012

Mine are all French made lined with either stainless steel or nickel. The French made ones will say "made in France" on the pot where the handle is riveted on.

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Shoshanadh
Shoshanadh May 25, 2012

Thanks everyone. I have a saute pan that I got at a thrift store. It's stamped "Made in France" and is quite heavy though I'm certain it's lined with tin. I also have a small gratin, also a thrift shop purchase and also stamped "Made in France" but also "Lamalle, N. Y. City" (which must have been an importer). It too is tin-lined.

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ChefOno
ChefOno May 25, 2012

Tin melts at just under 450F, a temperature easily achieved on a cooktop, especially when searing. So the reason you don't heat a tin-lined copper pan quickly is to avoid overheating and thus melting (and destroying) the lining.

Two notes: When (not if) the lining wears through, the pan must be retired or relined. Cooking in direct contact with copper = A very bad thing.

Cookware stamped "Made in France" was likely manufactured by Mauviel = A good thing.
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