Pity on the naïve customer who buys a set of copper cookware because it is the prettiest on the shelf (and they usually are, by far). Copper has many excellent advantages for cookware, but a few important drawbacks to consider as well.
One of copper’s best benefits for cookware is that it is an excellent conductor of heat, meaning that pots and pans will heat quickly, cool down quickly, and distribute heat to food inside evenly. These qualities are what chefs look for in cookware because they produce the desired results, giving heat or taking heat away from the food exactly when the chef wants. Professional chefs who need to accurately control temperature (for delicate sauces, for example) frequently choose copper because of its conductive ability.
You will almost always see copper pots and pans lined with tin or stainless steel because copper itself reacts with food. This reaction allows copper to easily be absorbed into food and when ingested, can cause nausea. If the pan is lined with tin or stainless steel, you do not need to worry about this. As good copper pots and pans will last an extremely long time, the pan may need to be re-tinned before it wears out. Copper is valued for its strength and durability.
One of the biggest downsides to copper is its need of polishing to maintain its brilliant shine. Copper easily oxidizes, or turns brassy looking, when exposed to air and moisture. Although there are many ways to polish copper, including pastes and homemade solutions, this required effort is something to consider before purchasing copper pots and pans. Washing copper in warm, soapy water and immediately towel drying afterwards will lengthen the time between required polishings.
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