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A Guide to Buying Copper Cookware

Copper cookware by Korkmaz Is copper cookware all it's cracked up to be? Does using this storied alternative to regular stainless pots and pans really make a difference in the kitchen? The answer to these important questions is difficult to rationalize on...

Copper cookware by Korkmaz
Copper cookware by Korkmaz

Is copper cookware all it's cracked up to be? Does using this storied alternative to regular stainless pots and pans really make a difference in the kitchen?

The answer to these important questions is difficult to rationalize on the surface, because it's all about preference, and a person's needs in the kitchen. We will say, however, that if you love cast iron, you will fall in love with copper.

If you're one of the thousands of home chefs that are dying to give copper cookware a try, you are probably thirsty for more information on how to choose what's best for you and your home. That's where we come in...

For solid, easy to follow advice on copper cookware, and what to choose for your home, here are some benefits, advantages, and specific information about copper cookware to help serve as a buying guide to help you along.

Nimbleness: Copper is, at it's very best, an incredibly nimble and useful material. For ultimate temperature control, copper is difficult to beat. Unlike cast iron, which is designed for full, even, absorptive heating, copper adapts to heat changes in a pinch, giving you complete control of your dish and temperature setting.

Spread and Conduction: With copper, heat spreads evenly throughout the vessel, allowing ultimate temperature regulation all along the pan's cooking surface. It is also incredibly conductive. Meaning that, because of its tendency to evenly heat, hot spots are eliminated along the bottom-side of the pan, thus no irregular and unwanted sticky spots, and better food results.

Construction: Copper varies in thickness, depending greatly on where it is manufactured. When made in Portugal, for example, cooper cookware tends to be quite thin (1.5mm or thinner). This isn't always ideal for all cooking situations. It's best to either buy based on weight, or ensure that the cooper cookware that you are looking at is at least 2-2.5mm thick.

Mauviel Copper Cookware
Mauviel Copper Cookware

Appearance: Copper cookware comes in two types of styles: hammered and smooth. In the past, a hammered appearance was a hallmark of quality. Anymore, though, it is done by machines for nothing more than aesthetic purposes. In regards to quality, either choice is fine. Since a hammered look isn't any longer connected with high quality, buy based on personal preference, neither one carries intrinsic benefits over the other.

Linings: In all copper pots and skillets, your choice of lining is bare, tin, or stainless.

- Bare is the cheapest of the bunch, and isn't considered the best quality or reliable enough for everyday cooking. Further, bare copper can leach into food, changing the chemical properties and flavors of certain dishes, and absorb into our gut.

- Tin, on the other hand, is naturally nonstick, and rivals even that of Teflon, making it a solid choice for everyday cooking. Though it does tend to ware out after a lot of use, and is susceptible to scratching from hard utensils and cleanings.

- Last is stainless steel, a consummate and very reliable choice. Because not only does it take forever for it to degrade, it doesn't block the heat transfer that makes copper so great. The only disadvantage being that a stainless-lined copper pot has poor non-stick qualities.

Induction: Though copper cookware comes with a host of advantages, for the average home cook, a limitation comes in the form of induction cooking. An induction-type range, which works on magnetic properties does not work with copper pots in the raw. While this limitation might turn some off, special adapters are sold to make induction cooking possible with copper cockware, and though they are often clunky, it might make a huge difference to those with induction ranges that are dying to have some copper cookware.

Bottom Line: Copper cookware comes in a variety of styles. Because of the range of differences that exist in this type of cookware, it's often best to buy a few individual pieces at first before deciding on the set and style you like most. Just remember, a good piece of cookware can last a lifetime (or a few), so don't be turned off by the price at first glance.

For additional information on how we can help you with your selection, please contact us any time.