Cooking with Copper
I created this guide for the Holiday 2015 issue of Sweet Paul Magazine.
I’ve been collecting antique french copper for years, not only for its beauty, which it has in abundance, but also for its utility. Copper conducts heat very quickly and uniformly across its entire surface, penetrating the food evenly from all sides. You can cook over a lower flame which saves on energy, and there are no hot spots on the bottom of the pan. Copper pans also dispense heat easily, significantly reducing the cool down time. It affords cooks much greater control, which is why copper pots are the tools of choice among so many serious at-home cooks and professional chefs.
Tin Lined Copper
I personally collect the French antique variety of this type of copper. Tin lining helps copper not react to acidic foods such as tomato sauce, acts as a non-stick surface, and further enhances its ability to conduct heat. Tin is a soft metal and should be cleaned with a dishcloth or sponge. Never use abrasive cleaning materials, like metal scouring pads or metal scrapers. Remember to always use low to medium heat as this is the equivalent to medium or high heat in other non-copper pans, and only use nylon or wood utensils as metal can scratch in a tin lined copper pan.
Stainless Steel Lined Copper
Stainless can take a bit longer to warm up than tin, however you can use metal cooking utensils, cook at higher heat, and the lining never needs replacing. I recommended that you season new stainless-lined copper pans, which will help keep your food from sticking. To do this, apply a thin layer of peanut or other high-smoke oil with a paper towel. Put only enough to coat the steel lining and remove all the excess. Then heat the pan until just before the oil begins to smoke and remove it from the stove. Let the pan cool, then rinse the pan and dry with a towel. Your pan is now ready for use.
Caring for Copper
Copper should be carefully cared for and displayed in your kitchen for all the world to see! Always wash your copper by hand and never put in a dishwasher. My favorite cleaning method is just lemon and salt! This treatment for cleaning copper amazes everyone who tries it and it is completely chemical-free! Dip the cut side of half a lemon into a plate of salt, then rub it over the copper and watch it magically shine! Regardless of the type of copper you decide upon… cook in it, care for it, and show it off. Maybe one day you can pass it on to your loved ones. When I cook in mine, I reminisce about all of the previous owners and their 19th century recipes that were served to friends and family. It is one of the most romantic kitchen pieces I, or any cook, can own.
Photography by Linda Pugliese, Styling by Carlo Geraci