In the world of metals, copper is one of the best heat conductors. It heats up very quickly, so unlike cast iron, there’s no need to preheat copper cookware. In fact, it’s recommended that you do not heat up an empty pan.
Because of its heat conducting properties, copper also heats up evenly. So you don’t have to worry about hot spots. Copper cookware is great for when you need to control and maintain consistent temperatures.
If a recipe calls for medium-high heat with your regular cookware, use medium-low for your copper pieces. You don’t want to use too much heat because, if the cookware has a soft metal lining, you could actually melt the lining.
This is why so many candy makers and chocolatiers use copper pots and pans. It’s the perfect material to use when making sweets, as well as for delicate proteins such as fish and sauces.
Copper is a reactive metal, meaning that a metallic flavor could leach into your food. For that reason, most copper pots and pans are lined with a non-reactive metal.
If you’re working with newer pieces, they will likely be lined with stainless steel. But if you’re using older copper pieces, they may have a softer metal lining like tin, which requires gentler use.
If you’re buying older copper cookware, or need to spruce up your collection, you can get your copper looking good as new with a little acidity. A bit of lemon juice or vinegar can revive your copper’s shine.
Caring for copper is as simple as using wooden utensils when cooking, so as not to scratch the lining; not using too much heat when cooking; and rubbing it down with a little acid every now and again.
For the most part, the metals used to line copper cookware are very strong and corrosion-resistant. If you do see damage to the tin lining, you can always get your copper pots and pans re-tinned when necessary.
Don’t hide your pans away in the cupboard. Hang them up with pride and show off your copper cookware collection. They bring your kitchen to life, but are also excellent conversation pieces.