Brass cookware is good for cooking
Copper pot - highest thermal conductivity for perfect results
Copper is one of the first metals that humans discovered for themselves. It played an important role in our development around 10,000 years ago. There is even a period between the Neolithic and the Bronze Age known as the Copper Age. In the meantime, copper mining was invented. Due to its outstanding properties, the metal gradually made its way into more and more areas. Today it is an indispensable part of modern society. Copper also found its way into the kitchen early on. France and England are primarily considered to be pioneers. For example, the French commune of Villedieu is known as the city of copper and tin. Outstanding kettles and pans were built there as early as the Middle Ages. Today the copper workshop of the idyllic place is one of the most important sights for tourists.
While the material in the form of pots, pans and bowls has long been a matter of course for professional chefs and confectioners, it has long since disappeared from the scene in private kitchens. Among other things, this was due to the allegation that copper cookware was dangerous to health. However, those who use it correctly need not worry. Thanks to educational work and the general copper trend, which has been constant in terms of interiors for years, the semi-precious metal is enjoying increasing popularity with consumers. We go into the important material properties that make it a powerful partner in the kitchen:
Thermal conductivity - copper is the star among cookware materials
Among the materials for cooking utensils, copper is the best conductor of heat. Compared to stainless steel, its thermal conductivity is 20 times higher. Cast iron and aluminum cannot keep up either. Copper thus saves energy, time and nerves. In addition, the heat is not only given off to the food to be cooked and roasted through the bottom of the container, but also through the sides. High-quality copper cooking vessels are made from one piece and heat up evenly over the entire surface. Food burns less quickly and can be cooked more gently.
The high thermal conductivity is accompanied by a short reaction time to temperature fluctuations. Copper reacts very quickly to both heating and reducing heat, which means that the temperature can be regulated much more directly than is the case with cast iron, for example. It takes longer to get into full swing and stays hot for a long time due to its heat storage capacity. This is certainly an advantage with stews, but not always. Sometimes a short response time is required. This applies, for example, to sensitive fish, meat and vegetables or when cooking pasta. Here it does not hurt if the desired temperature is transmitted quickly. With a little practice, you can set the heat in the copper pot precisely and gently fry, cook or stew. Nutrients and flavors are protected, the taste of ingredients is perfected. If you get the hang of it, you can create the finest roasted aromas in steaks without burning, cook vegetables to perfection and achieve buttery-soft fish fillets without drying out.
The speed and sensitive temperature regulation that copper pots allow for cooking are clear advantages in the catering industry. Every minute and perfection counts here. But even ambitious amateur cooks appreciate these material properties in order to master the challenges of the domestic kitchen professionally.
Functionality and diversity - something suitable for every need
The selection of copper pots is large. Suitable models with or without a lid are available for every project. Whether a saucepan, butter pan, sautoir (frying pan), casserole or meat pot. Large pasta pots, woks, oval roasting pans or classic pans. You can use it to steam crunchy vegetables, conjure up hearty stews, cook pasta in record time or caramelize sugar for irresistible desserts. Fondues, jams, Feuerzangenbowle or rice pudding also work in it. In addition, models are produced for all types of stoves, including induction. Because copper is also oven-proof, you can create the finest oven dishes or let roast meat cook in peace. There are hardly any limits to your imagination.
Copper is unsuitable for very spicy roasts and foods that are cooked over a long period of time on high heat. Otherwise, you can prepare all food in copper pots. The high thermal conductivity and even temperature distribution are particularly beneficial for gentle preparation. Here are a few ideas for inspiration:
- gentle roasting and cooking of meat, fish and vegetables
- Fried and scrambled eggs
- boil water
- flambé (e.g. with spirits such as metaxa or rum)
- Melt the chocolate
- glazed fruits / vegetables
- roasted almonds
- roasting spices
Copper pots for extra hygiene
Food hygiene also benefits. Copper has an antibacterial effect, so that neither viruses nor bacteria survive on copper surfaces. That is also the reason why the metal is used in pipes for drinking water supply and coatings on door handles in hospitals. Copper dishes help with a hygienic way of working and actively prevent the multiplication of germs.
Chemical reactions are not always desirable - coatings can help
Real copper pots and pans without a coating on the inside react with food. Sometimes that's an advantage, sometimes not. When making jam, for example, the chemical interactions between copper ions and food are welcome because hydrogen sulphides are bound. Jam from a copper pot therefore retains its natural color and tastes more intensely of fruit. So copper can definitely improve the taste.
However, the chemical reaction is not always necessary and, in the case of highly acidic foods, is even questionable. Serving a vinegar salad in a pure copper pot is, for example, not a good idea from a health point of view, but of course also absurd. Finally, there are acid-resistant salad bowls for this. The example is only intended to make it clear that pure copper is not the first choice for all projects. Storing acidic food in copper vessels without an intermediate layer is also not advisable. In addition, the metal is responsible for the destruction of vitamin C. Another reason that speaks against pure copper pots in everyday cooking. To make them insensitive to acids, manufacturers coat their products with materials such as tin, stainless steel or ceramics. In coated alternatives, you can let food cool and serve, which you should definitely avoid with pure copper vessels. Get an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of the common solutions:
- tin: Tinned pots are sensitive to sharp and pointed objects. Scratches are not long in coming. Therefore, use wooden or plastic cooking accessories! The heat resistance ends at around 230 ° C. Tin coatings wear off and turn gray, which doesn't look particularly appetizing. However, discoloration of a tin layer is not a health risk. Because renewing the protective layer is time-consuming and expensive, stainless steel and ceramics are the better alternatives. If you still prefer tin, you can use the repair service of some manufacturers or coppersmiths and have the pots re-tinned. We advise against DIY instructions. Tinning requires know-how and sometimes dangerous acids and alkalis. You should leave tinning to professionals.
- stainless steel: This material is hygienic, hard-wearing, durable, easy to care for and makes expensive re-tinning unnecessary. When buying, however, you should pay close attention to the material proportions. There are offers that are presented as stainless steel copper and only have a thin copper veneer. The copper content is negligible, the cooking properties cannot be compared with high-quality copper products.
- Ceramics: Ceramic coated copper pots are ideal for cooking delicate foods at low to medium temperatures. Whether meat, fish, vegetables or fruit. Anything that sticks easily is in good hands in copper pots with a ceramic coating. The non-stick coating is ideal for egg dishes, sliced meat, pancakes and much more. Caution is advised with the induction cooker. If handled incorrectly, copper pots overheat, which reduces the non-stick properties of ceramics and can cause deformation. As a result, the cooking vessels are no longer flat. Metallic cooking aids and hitting the edge should be avoided. Both damage ceramic layers.
Look - noble copper pots for a luxurious cooking experience
With its golden-reddish to reddish-brown color, copper stands out from the other materials in the kitchen. The surfaces look incredibly noble, radiate warmth and give the preparation of dishes an exclusive charm. Serving in coated copper products also leaves a lasting impression on guests. In top restaurants, refined delicacies are often presented in attractive copper cookware. Selected items from leading manufacturers are given the finishing touches by tasteful handles. And even when the accessories are not in use, copper attracts everyone's attention with its authentic character. Copper pots, for example, look very good on a kitchen rail. Their decorative look, whether natural patina or polished, enriches kitchens with luxurious extras.
Important selection criteria for copper pots - stability, stove type and Co.
Copper can be used pure or in the form of an alloy. As a rule, the purer the material, the more expensive the end product. High-quality copper pots are made of at least 90 percent copper and should have a copper layer of at least 1.5 millimeters. But be careful: Don't be fooled by the fact that copper pots are generally thinner than cast iron pots, for example. This is simply because the aim is not to achieve maximum heat storage capacity, but rather high thermal conductivity. This is an elementary difference that is noticeable in the total mass of the products.
Each material has its own characteristics. Compared to aluminum, copper needs around half the material thickness to achieve the same performance. So pots and pans made of copper do not have to be extraordinarily massive in order to achieve perfect cooking points. Nevertheless, there should be a minimum of thickness for sufficient stability, thermal conductivity and durability. Since copper is a soft material, you have to expect deformations with thin copper sheet. When heated, the bottom of the pot can bulge, which is problematic on ceramic hobs, electric stoves and the like. Here, the floor must lie flat for efficient cooking. Irregularities are not an obstacle with a gas stove, as gas flames still give off heat evenly to the pot. Which strength is required in detail depends on the planned project, the size of the vessel and many other factors.
In the case of euro coins, the red gold metal occurs in the gold-colored elements as an alloy of copper, zinc, aluminum and tin.
Hammered copper pots - an original look with added value
You may have seen a copper pot with an uneven surface and lots of small dents. This structure not only changes the appearance of the products and gives them a rustic charm. Since the material strength of metals can be improved with the help of cold forming, copper is also often machined by hammering. The material solidifies and its stability is optimized. But: Hammered pots require more work, which is reflected in the price.
Multi-layer material - the cheap alternative for home use
In addition to real copper pots, which are completely or at least largely made of copper, multi-layer cookware is sold. Copper is used here, but significantly less. In 3-shift combinations, the proportion is often less than 20 percent. Such products still conduct heat well thanks to copper, but the heating process is slowing down. Other components can be stainless steel, nickel, steel, aluminum and nickel. Multi-layer material is cheaper than pure copper and, with solid workmanship, an alternative for your home.
Induction-capable copper pots - tradition meets high-tech
Copper cannot be inductive because it is a non-magnetic material. At first it was therefore impossible to use copper pots on an induction stove. Manufacturer de Buyer has brought a breath of fresh air to the market by being the first ever to develop copper cookware with a ferromagnetic base, thereby giving it induction capability. In 2010, the company won the “Grand Prix Table et Cadeau”, an important award in the French competition, with the Prima Matera series. The products consist of 90 percent copper and 10 percent stainless steel. Take a look at the production of the French manufactory and convince yourself of the careful production, which combines manual work with innovation:
The copper manufacturer Weyersberg has also combined the traditional material with innovative extras. While a ferromagnetic floor coating with an iron layer makes the manufactured products suitable for induction, the premium CeraSigno sealing made of ceramic ensures perfect frying and browning properties as well as a non-stick effect. Marc Weyersberg's copper pots have received several awards. The Association of German Manufacturers e. V. declared it Manufacture Product of the Year 2014 and 2016. This was followed in 2017 by the German Design Award Special.
Quality has its price - save with copper pot sets
Copper is an expensive material, which is partly due to the high demand. As currently the most important metal in the world, the raw material is highly traded. A ton cost more than 5,000 euros at the end of January 2019. The high copper price explains why pots and pans are sold significantly more expensive than comparable models made of stainless steel. Exclusive pots start at around 100 euros, but can also cost more than 300 euros.Small, simple models in the form of saucepans are sometimes available from 30 euros. For a set of the innovative Prima Matera series from de Buyer you have to calculate a four-digit amount.
However, the raw material price alone is not responsible for the acquisition costs. High sales prices are also closely linked to the complex production processes used by renowned brands. The well-known copper manufacturer Weyersberg, the only one in Germany, produces in Germany, for example, and attaches great importance to craftsmanship. The articles are brought into shape by an experienced copper pusher with real muscle power. This causes higher costs compared to mass-produced goods that are produced mechanically. With manufactory work, you benefit from durable accessories that you enjoy cooking. The SWR paid a visit to the Weyersberg copper factory in southwest Germany and provided insights into traditional production:
There is potential for savings compared to individual purchases with pot sets. If you need several new saucepans anyway, you can save your household budget by investing in a suitable set. How many parts are included varies. Some arrangements combine several pot sizes, others complement pans and saucepans. Examine the scope carefully and decide based on your cooking habits!
Advantages and disadvantages summarized
Special copper pots add variety
In addition to common types of pots, there are individual variants that promise even more variety and leave nothing to be desired. These include hand-forged pots with handles, designs in the form of small almond roasters with an electric mixer attachment and models with eye-catching decorations on the handle and lid. Very large, heavy and antique kettles are also conceivable. For example, they play a role in cheese production. Three more suggestions:
Copper pot for jam: The sophisticated jam pot for successful preservation
There are a few challenges associated with making jam. If there is a lack of the right cookware, the fruit mass can quickly burn or boil over. The quality of the jam can also suffer. If fruit spreads lack taste, aroma or color, it doesn't have to be because of you or the recipe. The saucepan also has an influence.
Due to its individual properties, copper is ideal for making jam. By evenly heating the fruit, it protects valuable vitamins and prevents them from burning. The best thing about jams, however, is that copper ions react with the sulfur compounds contained in fruit. The latter are withdrawn, which protects natural colorings and flavorings. The result is delicious jam with rich colors and an intense taste.
Not to forget: copper promotes the gelling process of the plant-based gelling agent pectin. Preserving sugar can be dispensed with with pectin-rich fruits, classic household sugar is sufficient. Often the amount of sugar can be drastically reduced, which makes fruit spreads healthier. The proportion of fruit increases. In addition, copper has antibacterial properties, microorganisms have no chance. This in turn has a positive effect on the shelf life of jam. In our guide to jam pots you will find more information for good success.
Copper fondue pots - quick and easily adjustable heat
Because copper pots transfer heat quickly and evenly to the food, the material is ideal for fondues. Especially for chocolate, fat and stock fondues. With a cheese fondue, you need to stir a lot to prevent it from burning. It's not much fun and diminishes the social get-together. We recommend alternative materials such as cast iron and ceramics for heating cheese.
In connection with fondues, copper has the advantage that, due to its efficiency, you need less fuel or gas to generate the heat. The high thermal conductivity saves time and money. In addition, copper reacts directly to changes in temperature. If the heat is reduced, the pot cools down accordingly. This makes it easier to regulate the temperature and reduces the risk of burns on the table.
Copper for Feuerzangenbowle - rustic experience with style
The Feuerzangenbowle is similar to the fondue. The heat generated is passed on rapidly and directly to the contents of the pot, so that the punch gets hot quickly. Copper pots are also a big hit when it comes to the effective preparation of Feuerzangenbowle. Charming copper kettles with a hammered surface and wrought iron handle as well as rustic reinforcements on the edge enrich the traditional ambience that goes hand in hand with popular hot drinks. It is not uncommon for them to be called witches' cauldrons.
The fear of copper - we clarify!
The fact that coppersmiths were threatened with extinction and copper dishes disappeared from the kitchen was partly due to EU-wide copper bans. A real copper phobia developed because they feared poisonous substances. As with so many materials, the dose makes all the difference with copper. It is true that copper is a heavy metal and can be dangerous in high concentrations in the human body. However, long-term exposure is necessary for copper poisoning. When it comes to copper cookware, the texture and temperature are crucial. No acidic dishes should be prepared, served or stored in clean pots without a coating. Cooking at extreme temperatures should also be avoided with pure copper, because particles can dissolve in the process. But: If you cook jam in a pure copper pot, for example, the temperature is completely within limits.
With modern copper pots with a stainless steel or exclusive ceramic coating, you don't have to worry about your health. A few basic rules apply here, such as moderate heating, but you don't have to worry about copper poisoning. If you buy used copper pots at flea markets that are already a few years old, you should carefully check the composition and quality. If in doubt, it is better to use it as a decoration and obtain a new model with a safe surface structure for healthy cooking. The same applies to old copper pots that have been passed on over generations.
Verdigris - Thoroughly clean greenish discolored pots
If copper cookware comes into contact with vinegar or acetic acid in combination with room air, a reaction occurs that causes the toxic copper acetate. This substance is also known as the copper salt of acetic acid and verdigris (not to be confused with the patina on copper roofs!) And is characterized by a greenish discoloration on surfaces. Verdigris is water soluble and shouldn't get into the body. Thorough hand washing is also advisable in the event of skin contact. Copper pots with verdigris do not have to be disposed of. Thorough cleaning removes the residues that are harmful to health. It is best to wear gloves when cleaning.
Copper - the underestimated trace element
Copper isn't just a metal used to make pots, pipes and much more. It is also an indispensable trace element for animals, plants and people. It helps our body to produce red blood cells, it strengthens our immune system and is essential for central metabolic functions. According to the German Nutrition Society, an adult should ingest between 1.0 and 1.5 milligrams of copper per day (estimated value). Since the body does not store copper permanently, but excretes it, a daily intake is important. Copper is naturally contained in liver, chocolate, vegetables, grains and nuts, among other things. A shortage of copper in the human body is rare, but it is quite possible and can have serious consequences. Most of the excess metal is channeled into the digestive system via the bile for excretion. Up to 0.04 grams (40 milligrams) of copper per day is considered safe for humans. Elevated copper levels can be caused, for example, by liver disease, acute inflammation and acute leukemia.
Sizes for almost every project
Copper pots are available in numerous sizes. The spectrum ranges from the small saucepan with a capacity of 1.5 liters to the generous copper pot with 10 liters. Typical diameters are 16, 18, 20 and 24 centimeters. Common capacities 8, 5, 3, 2.5 and 1.5 liters. In our overview of pot types you can read which cooking utensils have been designed for which tasks. In the guides you will find information on the recommended size.
Important purchase criteria - copper content, processing and stove type
The table shows the most important factors that you should consider when buying copper cookware:
|Size & shape|
Well-known manufacturers such as de Buyer, Kupfermanufaktur Weyersberg and Mauviel 1830
Real copper factories are rare. In Germany, the only copper manufacturer Weyersberg leads the market. Similar companies are at home in France, Italy and Belgium. We have arranged the most important producers and central features:
|Weyersberg copper factory|
The French company Baumalu, Springlane Kitchen, Rösle, metal companies such as Stöckli and the German manufacturer Schulte-Ufer are also represented on the market for copper cookware. The same applies to the company Falk Culinair, which specializes in copper dishes and uses bi-metal technology with a thin layer of stainless steel. On eBay we discovered objects by Wagner and La Cucina, among others. Basically, you can buy many branded products online. At Amazon, the offer ranges from cheap Baumalu jam pots to sets from the Tornwald forge to exclusive meat pots from copper manufacturers.
4 popular copper pots
Copper saucepan with lid from Tornwald-Schmiede
- Copper layer 0.5 mm
- Stainless steel coating 0.5 mm
- For all types of stoves (suitable for induction)
- with stainless steel lid
5 liter copper pot from Tornwald-Schmiede
- Copper layer 2.3 mm
- Stainless steel coating
- for all types of stoves (suitable for induction)
- Stainless steel handles and lid
3-layer copper pot set Claire by Springlane Kitchen
- 4 pots with lids
- 3 saucepans, 1 saucepan
- Stainless steel, aluminum and copper
- for induction, gas, electrical and ceramic
- Liter scale
Pot set made of multi-layer material from Rösle
- Copper, aluminum, stainless steel
- 3 saucepans with lids
- 1 sauté pan without lid
- Capsule bottom
- Pouring rim & measuring scale
Usage Tips - Do not heat copper too much
Working with copper cookware requires a sensitive feel for temperatures. There are also a few things to consider when serving, caring for and storing. With a little practice, cooking in copper is child's play. The following tips should help you to gain initial experience as easily as possible:
- Beginners in the use of copper pots should start on low heat. If you give full throttle straight away, the food to be cooked can quickly burn. Feel your way forward little by little until you have a feel for the temperature regulation! In general, copper is ideal for low to medium heat.
- Depending on the handle material, you have to take good care of your hands while cooking. Since copper cookware heats up extremely quickly, oven gloves are required if the handles also conduct heat. This is also the case with brass and cast iron. There is no risk of injury when using products with cold handles.
- Protect copper surfaces from acids and salt!
- Never heat copper pots when they are empty! The material can deform or be damaged in other ways.
- Do not use metallic cooking utensils (e.g. wooden spoons or spatulas)!
- Avoid hitting the edge with a wooden spoon and the like!
- Do not store food in uncoated copper pots. Just prepare, then transfer!
- Store copper cookware in an absolutely dry place! Dry off immediately after cleaning! Otherwise the metal will react to moisture.
Cleaning and maintaining the copper pot - always by hand!
Copper pots cannot cope with the conditions in the dishwasher, regardless of whether they are made of pure copper or combinations with a coating. The strong effects of alkalis damage them and reduce their cooking properties. Cleaning must always be done by hand. Cleaning agents and accessories must never contain abrasive elements. Stainless steel cleaners, coarse pan cleaners, scouring sponges or steel wool are taboo! Copper is a relatively soft material that is sensitive to blows and pointed, rough and sharp objects. A soft sponge or a brush in combination with warm water and mild detergent is sufficient. Ideally, dirt is removed from copper pots while they are still warm. Then dirt can be loosened more comfortably.
Natural patina or polished for a noble shine
Copper pots change their appearance by oxidizing. This also applies to highly polished products. The surface tarnishes, creating a patina that is characterized by numerous color changes and stains. This look is an integral part of copper cooking culture, but not everyone likes it. Some find the copper patina a welcome vintage character, while others find it annoying. If you want to remove them, you have to treat copper pots with special polishing pastes or copper cleaning agents. This is the only way to restore the even copper color and shine. You have to repeat this procedure regularly if you don't like the patina. Gloss sprays for copper pots are also sold. Some seal cleaned surfaces effectively and delay maintenance.
Customer ratings show: The characteristic patina is perceived as a defect
During our research we noticed that many buyers classify the natural color changes of copper as a quality defect. This gives many high-quality products bad reviews, which is not fair. If you want to use the material advantages of the metal for yourself, you should be clear about this characteristic. New copper pots change when you use them and soon look completely different than when you buy them. Spotty discoloration is completely normal and characteristic of the material. Anyone who is annoyed about this has been poorly informed. If you don't want to do without the material properties, but still enjoy the look of new copper surfaces, you have to accept the increased maintenance effort.
Professionals rely on red gold for cooking at the highest level
Whether head chef in top gastronomy, pastry chef or ambitious hobby cook: copper is a good form in high-quality kitchens. There can be no talk of a trend product. Instead, good copper pots are long-lasting purchases for generations. Professionals swear by the speed that can be achieved with the top heat conductor and no longer want to do without precise temperature regulation. But it's not just the functionality of the material that inspires. The aesthetic look of well-kept copper pots also makes the hearts of design lovers beat faster. Thanks to innovative material combinations, we have succeeded in making copper ware for the home kitchen even more interesting. Modern products make it easier to work with copper, promote healthy cooking and bring the charm of star restaurants straight into your home.
High-quality copper dishes impress with their excellent cooking properties. If you want to cook to the point, save valuable time, achieve perfect results and reduce energy consumption at the same time, copper pots are the best choice for you. This investment, which should not be underestimated, is particularly worthwhile for owners of induction or gas stoves, because the potential for rapid temperature changes can be fully exploited. With other types of stoves, the effect is less pronounced, but clearly noticeable. Anyone who cooks frequently and in a demanding manner and does not perceive the maintenance effort as a disadvantage will enjoy copper pots a lot.
- Adventure Life Broadcast on "The Path of Copper": www.kabeleins.de
- Estimated values for an adequate copper intake in humans according to the German Society for Nutrition e. V .: www.dge.de
- Our guide to copper pans: www.pfannen.org
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