What to Look For in Copper Cookware

Thickness

 

The thickness of your copper cookware can have a noticeable effect on how quickly and efficiently it heats up. Aim for around 2.5 to 3 mm. Thinner than 2 mm may cause the copper to heat more slowly and less evenly. Plus, thin copper cookware is more likely to warp and dent.

 

Lining

 

Copper cookware is usually lined by either tin or stainless steel. Stainless steel, while not very effective at conducting heat, is more durable than tin, is non-toxic, and is easy to clean. Tin, however, heats more quickly than stainless steel, thus decreasing the risk of “delaminating” (the lining separating from the copper). Tin is also non-reactive and relatively non-stick, but does require special maintenance because of its delicate nature. While unlined, or bare, copper cooking vessels are rare, there are some available designed for specific jobs, such as jam pots and mixing bowls for beating egg whites.

 

Appearance/Finish

 

Copper cooking vessels are typically available with either a hammered or smooth finish. The type of finish you should go for is a matter of aesthetic taste and what each brand has available; it does not dictate the quality of the cookware. While in the past hammering copper was done to strengthen the metal, today it’s done by machines for decorative purposes. Hammered copper cookware is usually high-shine, and smooth finishes are available in either matte or shiny versions.

 

Is copper cookware safe?

 

Yes—copper cookware is safe to use as long as it is lined with some sort of non-reactive metal, like stainless steel. Pans that are made from unlined copper are meant to be used only with high sugar foods that won’t react with the copper interior.

 

What is multi-ply copper cookware?

 

Multi-ply (also known as tri-ply, 5-ply, and 7-ply) cookware has been crafted by bonding together multiple layers of metal with each “ply” (layer) serving a different purpose. Multi-ply copper cookware usually involves copper sandwiched between layers of stainless steel, where the copper acts as a responsive heat conductor and the steel gives the pan durability and a non-reactive cooking surface.

 

Does copper cookware stick?

 

It will depend on what the cookware is lined with. If the pan features a stainless steel interior, it will stick as much as any stainless steel pan would.

 

How do you clean copper cookware?

 

Most copper cookware is not dishwasher safe. The dishwasher can often cause stains and discoloration to copper, so it’s best to hand wash your copper pieces and dry them with a soft cloth. Some copper pieces will develop a natural patina over time which gives them a rustic, lived-in appearance. If you prefer shiny copper, you’ll have to give them a little extra attention.

 

Is copper cookware oven-safe?

 

Many higher-end copper pieces are oven-safe and can be used under the broiler as well. If you want to be totally sure, check with the manufacturer’s guide to see the exact heat threshold for your pots and pans before putting them into the oven.