Copper Pots: Not Just for Chefs

Looking to add a new piece to your kitchen collection? Here's why copper is the way to go.

With its beautiful bronzed color and timeless style, copper cookware is a striking addition to any kitchen. A hanging rack of the shiny pots calls to mind a classic French kitchen, while many professional chefs praise copper for its even heating characteristics. But copperware has a place in your home kitchen as well. Whether you are looking to add a new piece to your collection, or just want to mix-up your stainless steel and non-stick cookware with an attractive piece that can also double as a serving dish, copper is the way to go.

Why Copper?

Copper PotsChefs have long praised copper pots for their ability to distribute and hold heat evenly throughout the pan. Of all metals used to make cookware, copper is the best heat conductor, so temperatures evenly spread through it allowing for the fastest and most uniform cooking. Copper is a soft metal, so the heavier the gauge the better the heat distribution. And due to copper’s ability to evenly conduct and transfer heat, the cookware is said to be the most energy efficient as well. Copper is best used on gas or electric cooktops, like the many Electrolux ranges, but an induction range can also be used with the aid of an iron plate.

Copper is slightly acidic, meaning the metal will react with certain foods, so traditional copper pots are lined with tin, another good conductor of heat. Heavy usage can lead to the scratching and damage of the tin, and the pots must be re-tinned in order to avoid copper contamination. Reduce this by using wooden or other non-scratch utensils as you would with a nonstick pan, and washing the interior with a soft sponge. It is also becoming more common to use nickel and stainless steel linings in copperware, both of which are more durable than tin.

Several pieces are made in un-lined copper, including saucepans used for sugar work and bowls for beating egg whites. These utensils should only be used for their intended purposes.

How to Clean

Although it is loved for its cooking abilities, copper is well known as a high -maintenance kitchen addition. Along with possibly needing to re-line the pots, copper must be carefully cleaned in order to keep up the shiny condition. These pieces should never be washed in the dishwasher or with detergents that includes bleach or other harsh corrosives. French copper company Mauviel suggests cleaning the exterior with a quality polish, like Copperbrill, and using a vinegar-salt solution or lemon sprinkled with salt to remove stains on the interior.

Of course, copper doesn’t need to be shiny—many chefs and home cooks enjoy the metal's patina, the darkened look the pots take on after several uses.

Show It Off

Although it takes a little more effort to clean than other cookware, copper is still a top choice for both its cooking characteristics and its stylish look. Adding an over-the-oven hanging rack or shelf rack to your kitchen will allow you to put the elegant pots on display. And don’t just keep these beauties in the kitchen. In terms of oven-to-table cookware, nothing has the wow-factor of copper. Pieces like a Dutch oven, rondeau-style sauté pans, and paella pans can also be used as serving dishes to really show off your collection.