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Copper pots and pans- read all about it

Updated on January 10, 2016

It started with a worn, danged up copper pot

I never considered copper pots would have a space in my kitchen. Like everyone else in the 90's I had bought many Teflon coated fry pans that scratched when you just looked at them and you did not think anything about it. You buy a new fry pan, same kind, scratched up after 4 uses. As I grew older I was listening to people telling me that these coated pans are not good for you- all these little particles that are scratched up -when I did not even scratch the pan - landed eventually in my food, not to mention that my food touched aluminum which is a different story! I switched to enamel fry pans (Made in Germany)- the real deal - and I still own 3 of them and they show almost no sign of wear. I liked to fry in them but I need a lot, and I mean a lot of oil to not have food severely sticking in them. They are very good for hash browns though as the potato gets a crust and then comes loose from the bottom of the pan. Very delicious. However, lots of oil.... plus the weight of the pan...

I switched to other non-stick pans that are made with non-toxic material. Some manufacturer produce their own coating and do not use a main brand anymore and most of them are toxic free. Still, a dark fry pan is not charming on my lighted gas cook top! I also noticed that some fry pans seem to take forever to heat up, especially when I cook on electric even though the stove is new and pretty strong.

I don't really remember how I got into the copper cookware but I ended up buying a few old, danged up sauce pans on e-bay. All were in bad condition, having their inner tin lining melted or copper shined through. I also bought a large bunt form pan in Germany as well as an old Foccaccia pan from Italy. None of it was usable. I send it in to have everything re-tinned and once these were back then the fun began. I started cooking and baking with them!

If your used, old copper looks like this....

Small fry pan with straight sides
Small fry pan with straight sides
Small fry pan with straight sides
Small fry pan with straight sides
32cm Focaccia/pizza pan
32cm Focaccia/pizza pan
Focaccia pan
Focaccia pan

What got me hooked....

So I now own a selection of old copper pots and pans that are re-tinned. I love cooking in these as they react to heat a second after you start the burner.

I have yet to bake a pizza in a pizza oven (which I don't own just yet), bakers in Italy use these forms to bake their pizza the whole day long in very hot ovens and nothing happens to the tin.

I use a very small sauce pan with an iron handle every day to heat my milk/chocolate milk mix for my cappuccino (I know, Italians would not drink chocolate foam but they should try it....) and while the mixture would burn in a regular stainless steel pot it rarely does in tin lined copper. Even if the chocolate part of the milk sticks a little bit on the bottom it is cleaned easy under running hot water- no scrubbing.

All my copper enthusiasm led me to explore copper manufacturer which are not many left. Luckily I found a company in Alto-Adige/ South Tyrol in Italy that still traditionally manufacturers each copper item by hand! 3 Generations are still working in the shop and I had visited them last year while I was in Italy. I must say I missed my mark in life- I would have loved to manufacture such beautiful art by hand. Well, I can still learn something I guess....


Cooking with copper- the real thing!

Consider cooking with tin lined copper- do buy the real thing! Don't go for copper that is lined with steel or something else as it is just like buying a yacht but you have to row yourself!

Don't freak out that you have to wash these items by hands- that is how you love them. Always be gentle when stirring - use proper tools like rubber, silicone or wooden tools. There are seriously good looking wooden gadgets available made from olive or walnut wood. Oil these and you will almost not use these for cooking as you think they are too pretty!

When you cook with tin-lined copper you should never, I repeat, never, start the flame with an empty pot. Always use a little oil or butter and place your food in it. You will notice that almost immediately the sizzling starts, given you have turned on your stove! If you cook on gas it does not matter how thick your copper is, could be only 1 mm as your pot stands on a grid and not on a plane surface. When you cook on a plane surface such as glass ceran, you want 2 mm or more to not let the pot warp and roll around. However, the heat conductivity on copper pots is the same, no matter if you use 1 mm or 3 mm, your eggs don't fry faster....

Don't be afraid to buy copper oldies

The copper pots and pans I had bought are a thinner copper, probably 1 to 1.5 mm only. There are no holes in these, they are just worn and dented. They are most likely older than any other of your cookware in your kitchen and have seen it all. Retinned and polished they are like new but they have this worn, used look and feeling. I love all my used copper but I also like the new pots. They are pricier in the beginning as you don't have to do anything with them but use them. With proper care (remember, wooden, silicone or rubber gadgets only, do not preheat these without food) these will last you a long time. It is less likely that these need to be retinned soon. I have been in contact with the family in Italy that produces copper pots and they are using these themselves on a daily basis. They are certainly not new but really look hardly used, and are never resurfaced. And did I mention that you can have a silver lining in your copper cookware? All that is possible, silver is an even better conductor than tin.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Very large Gugelhupf pan polished and retinnedStreuselcake
Very large Gugelhupf pan polished and retinned
Very large Gugelhupf pan polished and retinned
Streuselcake
Streuselcake

My very first piece

The large bunt form needs 2 batches of bunt cake batter and the cake just bakes in it perfect! I never had a cake not coming out- I had been using very good quality German made bunt form pans and, even I greased them well and put bread crumbs in it (that's how I was taught) the cake would just stick and come out in pieces.....

The copper pan only needs a shake and the cake comes out!

Next thing is the large Foccaccia pan or Teglia Farinata as they say in Italy is a Pizza or Foccaccia pan that, if oiled and semolina floured, throws the pizza at you once done. Tin is a natural non-stick material and even if it would stick a little you just soak the pan afterwards in your sink with a little water and everything comes right off!

Happily retinned and polished

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Chef's pan nicely redone. The price was around $65Teglia Farinata/ Focaccia pan retinnedcost was around 60$
Chef's pan nicely redone. The price was around $65
Chef's pan nicely redone. The price was around $65
Teglia Farinata/ Focaccia pan retinned
Teglia Farinata/ Focaccia pan retinned
cost was around 60$
cost was around 60$

Italian handmade tinned copper cookware coming to the US

We will be bringing their cookware to the US and we hope to find more passionate cooks and fanatics like myself to make this more popular! I hope that within this year I have the chance to visit their shop again as they had nicely offered me to teach me how to properly re-tin copper pots and pans- I cannot miss this opportunity! Once I have some experience in re-tinning we think of offering this service to our customers as well.

If you live in New York you need to visit

Giovanni Rana's restaurant for his homemade pasta. He has displayed all his copper cookware though out the restaurant. All these pots are handmade in Ravina, Italy. These pots will also be available soon here in the US for you and me!

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    • Marion Andernach profile image
      Author

      Marion Andernach 9 months ago from North Carolina

      I hope you will enjoy cooking with copper. In the last year since I wrote this article I have been cooking with copper a lot. My favorite is almost every morning preparing eggs sunny-side-up as "over-medium" (not totally runny). A little olive oil and a lid make the best fried eggs!

    • profile image

      Marion 9 months ago

      Hello Jack,

      It has now been a few months since I wrote this article. In the meantime I have been frying (almost every other day) eggs "sunny side up" style. I use olive oil, start the heat and add the eggs immediately. They will start sizzle the moment I turn on my gas burner. I fry them for exactly 2 minutes, shut off the gas and leave the pan sitting there but cover it with a lid. Give it another 60 seconds and you have the perfect fried egg, a little blind though but the egg yolk is still runny!

      Hope you enjoy cooking with copper!

    • jackclee lm profile image

      Jack Lee 9 months ago from Yorktown NY

      thanks for this info. I am always looking for good cookware. As you, I have gone thru many non-stick pans and now settled on a stainless steel pan. It is not as good as a non-stick but it is safer and last longer, it never scratches. I am going to try a copper pan...