Why I Love Cooking with Copper

Many years ago, I received my first copper pot. For about a decade after that whether it was Christmas, my birthday or Mother’s Day, my family and sometimes friends, chipped in and got me a copper pot or utensil. For about a decade this continued, becoming a tradition of sorts, until I had a full set of copper cookware and lids.

In the beginning

It was my husband’s idea and a way to have the children participate without spending really any significant money, as he mostly covered it, and everyone else just gave what they felt they could. Copper pots were not a thing I ever remotely considered wanting, but when I received the first, a 12” frying pan, I couldn’t believe that I had ever cooked in anything else! I have to say that my copper pots rate among some of the best gifts ever. I love to cook and love to bring meals from faraway places into our everyday life. It is like having a micro vacation for supper. Since I have traveled all over, I often also bring a story about an experience I had that inspired the night’s meal.

Cardamom Pears in Copper Skillet (click image for recipe)

A delight for any cook

Cooking in copper cookware, which is actually heavy grade stainless steel on the inside, an aluminum core, and copper on the outside is a delight to any cook. Copper heats up quickly and evenly, and cools down equally as fast, allowing accurate temperatures throughout the entire cooking time. The aluminum core helps to continuously distribute the heat evenly so that there will be no hot or cool spots, even up the sides. This insures even sauces, non-stick pancakes, and fried potatoes sans the charcoal. The stainless steel on the inside is non-reactive and allows you to add lemon, wine, berries and other acids without worrying about the lifespan of your cooking surface. You can choose any utensil you wish since stainless steel is virtually indestructible.

My daughters joke about who will inherit which pot!

Copper cookware is an heirloom gift. My daughters joke with me about which one will inherit which pot! Summer finds me at the jampot, or making preserves, pickles and salsa. Copper creates a smooth and even boil so that the berries don’t overflow the pot when rapidly boiling. Vegetables are a plenty in my garden and I always serving an assortment of crisp, colorful, and perfectly cooked vegetables with every meal. Cooking with copper makes this easy to do. Nothing gets overcooked. Asparagus, broccoli and even carrots cook to perfection. You can turn vegies off when they are done and that it that. There is no hot pot that continues to cook, making the vegetables that were perfect, soggy and discolored by the time they get to the table. Desserts have also improved since the advent of copper cooking in my house. Melted chocolate, ganache, custards, and flans are a breeze.

I love the bright warm color.

Upon receiving my first pot, a friend turned to my husband and said, “when giving someone copper, one needs to also give the gift of polishing it”. My husband, being wonderful, and the family pot washer, agreed wholeheartedly with my friend. He has meticulously polished the pots ever since. Because of the stainless steel lining, cleaning the pots is also easy. They nearly never need to be soaked, even after a really vigorous searing of the least fatty meat. When the copper first arrived in our household, we loved the bright, warm color and they were polished with a simple copper cream every time they were used. Now we prefer to let a little patina build up. Looking at the sun hitting the various gradations from warm copper to green, blue, purple and indigo swirls is an added pleasure to a morning cup of coffee in the kitchen.

Copper is the first metal that  humans discovered and learn to utilize. It has been used in cooking for 11,000 years, interestingly, for as long as humans have been practicing agriculture. Almost all cultures have used copper in cooking. Most have at least one dish that is traditionally cooked in copper. Copper pots are one of the most expensive items for stocking a kitchen but if you can find a way to afford them, they are so very worth it.

Pears, copper, and plants

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