Already cooking with copper? Be sure to consult our guide to Caring for Copper Cookware.
Copper cookware is strikingly beautiful, almost an iconic symbol of the high-end professional kitchen. Many times we’ve seen images of the three-hat chef carefully preparing food, with stacks of gleaming copper saucepans and frypans on the shelves above him.
In home kitchens, copper is less common, with stainless steel and non-stick cookware often taking preference.
So what are the advantages of copper cookware and why do many chefs prefer it?
Primarily, copper is an excellent conductor of heat. It responds very quickly to changes in temperature, giving cooks and chefs far greater control over the contents of the pan or pot. Unlike stainless steel, heat is very quickly transferred around copper.
Just as importantly, copper loses its heat when the pot or pan is removed from the heat source, so your garlic chilli prawns stop cooking the moment you turn off the stove.
This thermal conductivity also ensures an even distribution of heat around the entire surface of the pan, so you no longer have to worry about the beef medallions in the centre of the pan cooking faster than those nearer the edge.
Copper’s unique reactive qualities, however, mean that the metal should not come into contact with certain foods.
Most copper cookware is plated in either tin or stainless steel to keep acidic foods from reacting with the copper.
Un-plated copper cookware is useful particularly for cooking with sugar, as the copper interior keeps the melted sugar from crystallising.
Like most professional equipment, copper cookware requires more care than the alternatives. Copper is easily tarnished, and where the copper colour isn’t maintained, heat conductivity can suffer. This can be easily prevented by regularly using a copper cleaner after use.
Copper cookware is particularly valued in the kitchen when preparing foods whose flavour and texture is reliant on carefully controlled cooking, such as high-quality meat (rib eye, lamb fillet, etc.) and seafood (scallops, calamari, etc.). The excellent conductivity of copper cookware allows you to better preserve the moisture inside these foods.
While there are several manufacturers of high-quality copper cookware around the world, De Buyer is one of the world’s most highly regarded, having produced the cookware in France since 1830.
If you’re interested in entering the world of copper cookware, The Essential Ingredient stocks a range of copper cookware products, including De Buyer.
To find out more about copper cookware or to see the range, contact your nearest The Essential Ingredient store, or browse the copper cookware selection in our Online Store.