Copper has long been recognized as one of the best metals to use in the manufacture of kitchenware due to its high heat conductivity which ensures that a cooking vessel heats evenly throughout, without “hot spots” . Since the metal responds quickly to changes in heat sources, varying temperatures during cooking become easy and braising and browning food can be done without problems.
The faster cooking you can get with particular copper items means that you saving both energy and time. Since it also has an attractive shiny finish, you can serve the food in the containers they were cooked in, saving the amount of washing that has to be done. The mirror finish of the brass fittings adds class to your kitchen.
Among the well-known manufacturers of particular copper items are Calphalon, Ruffoni, All-Clad, Cuisinart and Mauviel. Fry bowls, crepe pans, sauté pans, saucepans, roasting pans, egg bowls, gratin dishes, casseroles and stockpots are just some of the utensils that are available in copper.
What you need to know when buying brassware
1. Search for a lifetime warranty. This protects you from any material and construction defects in the utensils you purchase. Follow the manufacturer’s care instructions to keep the warranty valid.
2. Copper is a soft material that dents and scratches easily and also reacts to food that comes into contact with it. For this particular reason, copper items are generally coated on the inner surface with some other metal or alloy such as tin, nickel and stainless steel. Tin wears out quickly and copper parts coated with this metal need to be replaced quite often. Inner coating of stainless steel is durable and easy to clean. Tin-plated copperware is the cheaper option but due to its long life, stainless steel-plated copper utensils are more economical in the long run. Look for brassware with an internal coating of stainless steel rated “18/10”.
3. The thickness or gauge of the copper is important. The thicker the copper, the better the heat distribution through the inner cooking surface.
4. Many dishes need to be taken from the stove to the oven, to complete cooking. Buying oven and broiler safe copper cookware means you can avoid transferring food to other utensils before putting them in the oven.
5. Look for the design features you need. The flared rims make pouring hot liquids from the pot much easier and safer. Some copper cookware comes with curved handles that do not get excessively hot when the pan is on the stove. These handles can be welded, riveted or screwed. Welded handles are very strong and durable but many people find them unattractive. The screw on handles are more streamlined but tend to loosen over time and will require replacement. Riveted handles offer the best combination of durability and appearance. Lids can be great for preventing heat, steam and flavor from escaping during cooking. Some models have lids with a small vent in them to allow excess pressure to escape and prevent the lid from tightening.
6. The brass parts of good quality are heavy. Before you buy a pot or pan, lift it to see if it is comfortable with the weight, keeping in mind that it will be even heavier when it is full of food.
7. Buying a set of particular copper items is cheaper than buying individual items, but the set may include pots and pans that you will never use. On the other hand, if you buy kitchenware one piece at a time, you may find yourself suddenly needing a specific tool that you haven’t bought yet. The ideal solution is to buy a basic set consisting of a saucepan, sauté pan, roasting pan and stockpot. This will meet your basic cooking requirements and you can add utensils as you find the need to ensure that you are spending money on the brassware that you really need.
The use and maintenance of brass fittings
Brass fittings should normally be hand washed in hot soapy water immediately after use and then dried completely to prevent spots developing on the surface. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for best results and to ensure the warranty remains valid.
The brass parts will tarnish after a period of use. This does not affect its performance and the original color and shine can be brought back using a copper cleaning agent.