Copper pans have a unique look and finish. The material is fairly soft to clean as it requires extra care. The good news is that there are some gentle cleaning methods that can be used to clean copper pots and pans sufficiently.
Copper is quite soft, which means it can get scratched easily. Additionally, the reddish/brown color of the pan can turn black due to oxidation.
Plus, copper pans may turn greenish when the copper oxide comes into contact with moisture. This is called a patina. It acts as a shield and prevents the copper underneath from eroding.
It is why we are still able to find old copper cookware in pristine condition. If yours has this layer, you have two choices. You can either remove it to reveal the shiny copper underneath. Or, just clean and shine the cookware regularly to prevent that patina from appearing.
In other words, clean your copper pans regularly. That is the best way to keep them shiny and prevent oxidation.
Best Ways To Clean Copper Pans and Pots
Copper pans are delicate and require a delicate touch.
Here are some gentle cleaning methods that can make your copper pots and pans sparkly again:
Use Lemon and Salt
Copper pans look great hanging over your kitchen. However, if yours lose their sheen, the kitchen ambiance will suffer.
Plus, dull pans can compromise your dishes. A simple lemon and salt scrub can do wonders to bring that sheen back. That and some elbow grease will make your copper pans look new again.
First, cut the lemon in half and add salt to it. Then, rub the salted part of the lemon all over the copper pan. No dish rag required!
Just some elbow grease should do the trick. In fact, you can speed things up.
Get rid of tough stains with some spot cleaning. Just make a lemon and salt paste and scrub away. That way, your copper pans won’t be unsalvageable.
After you are done scrubbing, rinse, and dry the copper pan.
Allow it to air dry thoroughly after.
Want to see your reflection on your copper pans? Just buff them with a clean, dry cloth after it is dry.
This will keep the surface shiny and looking brand new every day. Do this every time you use your pans.
Use Baking Soda
Baking soda can make your copper pans glisten. Just mix it with some lemon juice and start rubbing. Or, just add some baking soda on a cloth and use it to clean the tarnished copper pans.
To maintain sheen, you can also spray or polish a lacquer. Just make sure your fingers do not touch the pan or they will get discolored.
Ketchup is more than just a condiment for your fries. It can also make your copper pans shine like new. A tiny amount can go a long way.
Just squeeze some onto a cloth and start rubbing.
Dull copper pans can get their pristine color back with this method.
Like ketchup, beer can also be used to clean copper pans. It is highly acidic, which helps in cleaning the pan. All you need to do is pour some on the pan and wait.
Allow the beer to sit for a while before wiping it off. This trick is often used to maintain copper tables.
Use Worcestershire Sauce
Another effective method to clean copper pans is by using Worcestershire sauce (especially when you’re in a hurry).
To do this, soak a sponge in the sauce and rub it all over the dirty copper pots or pans.
Wait for some time and allow the sauce to remain applied on the pan for a few minutes before wiping it off. Then, rinse and dry it.
Remember, not to clean the pan with detergent if the surface is seasoned. The soap will wipe off the effects, which can compromise the taste of your meal.
Special Considerations When Cleaning Copper Pans
That is not to say that these methods can work on every pan. The type of copper pans you have will determine the cleaning solution you use.
Otherwise, you may end up ruining your expensive cookware.
Here are some things you should consider:
Cleaning Lacquered Pans
Lacquered copper pans have a shiny finish. This can get ruined with aggressive cleaning techniques. You need to be gentle to prevent that.
First, dip a soft, clean cloth in a solution of water and mild dish soap. Wipe the surface to remove dust and grime and rinse the soap off with a damp cloth.
Then, dry the pan with a dry cloth. Make sure you remove all moisture before hanging the pan.
Cleaning Unfinished Copper Pans
A vinegar and salt paste will do wonders for unfinished copper pans.
Just use a soft tea towel to run it on the surface of the pan. Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes.
Then, buff it off with a clean cloth.
When All Else Fails…
If nothing works, use heat. Take a pan that is large enough to accommodate your copper pan. Fill it with three cups of water, a cup of vinegar and a tablespoon of salt.
Place the copper pan in the pan and bring the mixture to a boil. Allow the heat to build up till the tarnish falls away. Do not remove the pan from the water till it cools down.
You may need to scrub the copper pan after it cools down. But, you may not need to work too hard to get it shiny.
Also read: Do Copper Pans Work on Induction
What To Look For When Buying Copper Pans
If your copper pans are unsalvageable, just buy new ones.
Chances are they got ruined because you bought the wrong kind.
Here are some things you should consider to make a better decision:
Weight and Thickness
A thin copper pan can warp when it comes in contact with heat. A thick one will lie flat on the stovetop and can withstand high temperatures.
Generally speaking, copper pans that are between 2.5 mm and 3 m are high-grade products.
Copper pans that have a solid lining can last longer. Go for ones that have stainless steel or tin lining. The former is preferable since it is long-lasting and non-toxic.
Chances are low that you will come across pans that don’t have this feature. However, always check to make sure before buying.
Copper pans are available with either a hammered or a smooth finish. At one time, pans that had the former were considered high grade.
However, today most copper pans are hammered by machines rather than by hand. The appearance does not have an effect on how well it performs.
So, if you want copper pans for their aesthetic value, go for the hammered variety. Most brands offer smooth variety so you may have a bit of a search on your hands.
If you have an induction cooktop, make sure the copper pans you get have a magnetic steel bottom.
These types of pans are induction compatible are designed specifically for these cooktops.
The good news is that most copper pans are safe to use for other cooktop types.
However, an overheated pan can leave marks on flat top stoves. Prevent that by taking the pan off the heat before it gets crackling hot.
Bare copper pans are the most inexpensive type you can get. However, you also get what you pay for. The metal conducts heat really well.
However, since it is uncoated, it can react to acidic food, such as tomatoes.
In other words, you won’t be able to make any sauces in this. Additionally, bare copper pans can be harmful to your health.
What To Keep In Mind When Cooking With Copper Pans
To ensure your copper pans last for years, keep the following in mind:
- Don’t heat an empty copper pan. This can cause discoloration and damage the lining. Add oil and then turn on the stove to heat it slowly.
- Don’t go overboard with the heat. Copper pans are great heat conductors. Use a lower temperature compared to metal pans. Increase it gradually or turn the flame to half of what you’d use to heat metal pans.
- Don’t throw the pan in the dishwasher. You will damage it irreparably. Use the aforementioned cleaning tips to wash it by hand.
- Don’t cook with metal utensils. If your copper pan is lined, the utensils will scratch them. Use wooden or silicone ones to preserve the coating. Plus, do not use steel wool to clean the pan for the same reason.
- Not every copper pan is oven safe. Pans that are lined with stainless steel or tin can handle temperatures up to 450 to 500 degrees. But stay on the safe side and keep them out of the oven.
- Keep copper pans away from the stove when not in use. This will prevent any oil splatters from getting on them as you cook. Hang them over the stove to enhance the aesthetic appeal of your kitchen.
Copper pans look great hanging over a kitchen counter. The reddish/brown sheen just jumps out at you. These should also be in your cookware arsenal if you are a serious cook.
However, these won’t last if they are not taken care of.
Use the aforementioned cleaning technique to bring them to shine and maintain their sheen. You will make the pans last for years.
In fact, chances are you will be handing them down to the grandkids.
Make great memories of cooking with them, along with your family. You will maintain and clean them regularly without being asked to.
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