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    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.


    Shopping Guide for Best Copper Cookware Sets

    Copper cookware has long been the stuff of Hollywood fantasy. Think of those movies where Diane Keaton or Meryl Streep lounge around their million-dollar Hamptons kitchen contemplating whether to choose the handsome young doctor or the more age-appropriate yet still comely leading man next door. There’s always a pot rack hanging above the heroine’s quartz-surfaced island swinging with the most beautiful, polished copper kettles, skillets, and pans that a set designer’s budget can buy.

    Off the silver screen, copper is a little harder to come by. Not many commercial kitchens or restaurants use copper cookware, as it’s expensive compared to traditional steel pots and pans. For the home cook with a little money to spend, though, copper can be a tremendous option for your everyday meal preparation.

    First, copper is extremely durable. It’s not unbreakable like cast iron, but it’s lighter and easier to care for. Second, copper is a magnificent conductor of heat, meaning that cooking temperature is easy to control so you’re less likely to burn dinner. And finally, there’s that Hollywood factor. The aesthetic of copper cookware is beyond compare. There’s nothing more beautifully impressive than a kitchen full of shiny, polished copper pots and pans. It’s not just functional; it also makes a statement. Copper cookware is an unquestioned harbinger of affluence, style, good taste, and good food. Why would Diane or Meryl stock their movie sets with anything less?

    At BestReviews, we strive to give consumers unbiased opinions based on our own extensive testing. We buy everything we try out right off the shelf; we never accept freebies. And when our testing is done, we donate everything to charity. In short, you can rest assured that you’re getting opinions and reviews based on real results.

    So if you want to go Hollywood without leaving your kitchen, have a look at our take on the best copper cookware out there.

    Because copper changes color when it’s heated, your copper cookware will develop a natural patina over time.

    Why Buy Copper Cookware?

    We’ve already listed some of the advantages of copper cookware, but is it right for your kitchen? When making your decision, there are several factors to consider.

    • Cost: Copper cookware is an investment. The reason it’s so pricey is because of the work and materials that go into making each piece. The best copper cookware is completely handcrafted. First, there’s the copper itself, hammered into shape by a genuine coppersmith. Next, there is the lining; it’s most commonly steel or tin. Either way, another craftsman – like a tinsmith or a steelworker – is required. Finally, there’s the handle, which is usually the work of an ironsmith.

      That’s three expert tradesmen required for each pan. That kind of labor isn’t cheap, not to mention the cost of the materials. But you're paying for quality, and – if properly cared for – a lifetime of it. Copper cookware is popular in spite of the high cost due to its beauty, durability, and ability.    

    Copper conducts heat so well that you can warm it to about half the temperature you would need to use with an average steel pan.

    • Weight and Thickness: Copper pots and pans come in a variety of weights and thicknesses. So what build is optimal? No less than Julia Child weighed in on the subject, proclaiming her preference for inch-thick copper (3.175 mm) in Mastering the Art of French Cooking. However, most modern copper cookware comes in thickness ranging from 1.5 mm to 2.5 mm. Remember, a thicker copper will allow for better heat retention, but going a little thinner provides for greater temperature control when using. Any pan in this range will sit securely on a burner and can be lifted easily with one hand.

    • Precision: Copper is a super-efficient heat conductor; that’s why it’s used in electrical wiring. On the stovetop, it’s easy to control the temperature of the pan; it responds to the turn of the knob almost instantly. This feature is especially useful when browning, braising, or doing other types of cooking that require frequent heat adjustments.

    • Care: If you want your copper to last long enough to justify the price, you’re going to have to put in a little elbow grease. Be prepared to polish your pots and pans often (even if you haven’t used them since the last time) to prevent corrosion. They’re also not dishwasher safe, and they need to be thoroughly dried by hand before they’re put away. If you’re willing to put in the work, though, cooking with copper can be well worth it.
       

    In short, copper can make a great addition to your home kitchen. However, there are drawbacks. Be sure to consider both the pros and the cons before dropping a lot of cash on your new cookware collection.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Copper pans are durable, but they’re not indestructible. They can actually melt at temperatures higher than 425°F.

    Tin Lining vs. Steel Lining

    As mentioned earlier, the vast majority of copper cookware is not made exclusively from copper. Besides the handle, which is usually iron, there’s the lining. Copper on its own is highly reactive, meaning it can change the flavor of the food you’re cooking. Because of this, almost all copper pots and pans are lined with either tin or steel.

    • Copper cookware with tin lining is generally more affordable, but tin isn’t the most durable material. You might find yourself having to replace your cookware every few years.

    • Though more expensive, copper pans with steel lining are preferable due to their longevity. It might be worth laying out the extra cash upfront to benefit in the long run.

    Caring for Your Copper Cookware

    If you decide to outfit your kitchen with copper, be sure you know how to take care of it. After all, you want your investment to last.

    Care Guide

    Caring for the Lining

    From the standpoint of functionality, the most important part of the pot or pan to care for is the lining. Tin lining will probably need to be replaced every few years, even if you wash it regularly with soap and water. Stainless steel lining should last much longer and can be cleaned with soap and water, too.

    To avoid accidental scratches, use wooden or silicone cooking tools instead of metal ones when using copper cookware.

    Care Guide

    Polishing the Copper

    As for the copper itself, it’s up to you to determine how often you want to polish it. If you don’t polish your copper cookware regularly, it’s likely to tarnish. But that might not necessarily be a bad thing. The tarnish might keep the actual copper underneath from showing other, more unsightly, signs of wear.

    To polish your copper cookware, you can buy a commercial copper polish, or you can make your own with ingredients from your kitchen. Basically, anything acidic will make your copper shine; think tomato juice, lemon juice, or vinegar.

    One popular way to polish copper is to start by sprinkling a generous amount of salt onto the pot or pan. Next, pour white wine vinegar on the salt – you’ll immediately see a chemical reaction. After a few seconds, sprinkle on some more salt, then scrub the copper with a sponge soaked in even more white wine vinegar. Once you are happy with the shine, rinse the pot or pan with water to get off all the salt and vinegar.  

    You can also buy clear lacquers designed specifically to keep your copper cookware shiny, but these are best used on pots and pans that are just for display or show, not actual cooking.   

    DID YOU KNOW?

    Copper is toxic to most bacteria and germs, so your pots and pans come with the added bonus of being antibacterial.

    Getting the Most Out of Your Copper Cookware

    You can cook almost anything in a copper pot or pan, but the material works particularly well for several specific preparations. Consider using them for dishes in which controlling the heat is paramount. Copper cookware is so responsive to changes in heat that dishes like risotto that need to maintain a constant temperature are particularly well-suited to the control a copper pot offers.

    Remember, one of the primary benefits of cooking with copper is its ability to evenly conduct heat, and sensitive sauces like Hollandaise that require medium to medium-high heat demonstrate effectively why that feature is important. For the same reason, copper pots and pans are great for making sweet or eggy components of dishes mainly associated with dessert, like zabaglione and custard.

    Never preheat copper pots and pans. They heat up so fast that there’s no need, and if they are lined with tin, the tin could melt.

    FAQ

    Q. Are copper pots and pans oven-safe?
    A.
    Absolutely. The liquid in whatever you’re cooking will keep the pot or pan cool enough to prevent damage, even at high heat.

    Q. Can copper cookware be used on an induction cooktop?
    A.
    Generally, no. However, there are special copper pans made with ferromagnetic bottoms that can be used over an induction burner.

    Q. I’ve seen artisan-produced unlined copper pots and pans. Are they safe to use?
    A.
    Yes. The main problem with copper cookware that’s not lined with stainless steel or tin (or in some cases, ceramic) is something called verdigris, an unsightly coating that destroys vitamin C and can be toxic if not cleaned off.

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