Copper pans are known for their durability and the quality cook they offer. The red variety, in particular, is popular among both home and restaurant chefs.
Even though they are made from non-stick material, that doesn’t mean they are indestructible. Food can stick to them just as easily as it can to other pans.
So if you’re wondering how to prevent food from sticking to copper pans, this article covers it all.
How To Prevent Food From Sticking To Copper Pans?
The best way to make sure food doesn’t stick to copper pans is to properly season them.
Once you have a seasoned copper pan, you can use it like a non-stick pan where the food would not stick to the copper pan (at least not as quickly as it does with unseasoned copper pans).
To remain pristine and prevent sticking, copper pans need to be seasoned regularly.
If done properly, the seasoning can also keep rust at bay. It can also protect the surface against damage if it is used at a high temperature.
Seasoning can also remove chemicals from the detergent you use to wash your pans. Additionally, it can also purify the food you prepare in it.
A well-seasoned pan has pores that are filled with carbonized oil.
This creates a protective barrier on the surface, which prevents food from sticking. It also prevents the utensils you use from oxidizing.
What You Need To Know Before Seasoning Copper Pans
Not all copper pots and pans are made equal. Similarly, you cannot season all of them without damaging them or use them for long, for that matter.
For instance, unlined copper pans are typically used to make jams and candies. Chances are you won’t need them unless you have a sweet tooth.
Copper pans that are lined with tin are non-stick and do not require further treatment. In other words, you can skip seasoning both of these pans.
Stainless steel copper pans, on the other hand, have to be seasoned. That’s because this material is tough, rough, and uneven.
However, this roughage also makes food stick. To prevent that from happening, you should season it from the inside before using it.
Also read: Does Copper Work On Induction?
How to Season a Copper Pan
Seasoning a copper pan may seem intimidating, but it is a simple process.
Once you are done, you can use it without worrying about sticky food sticking to it. Just follow these steps to season it properly:
Step 1 – Wash The Pan
Your copper pan may look clean straight out of the box, but it may not be. Before seasoning the pan, clean it gently with a soft sponge and some detergent.
This is important because your new pan may have harmful chemicals or substances on it. The soap should rinse it right out even if you are using a soft cloth.
Step 2 – Rub on some Oil
Once the pan is completely dry, pour a tablespoon of oil on the surface. Use vegetable oil or any other type that has a high smoke point.
This includes peanut, grapeseed, and canola oil. Don’t use olive oil, though. It heats up fast and can thus end up ruining your pan when you heat it up.
Spread the oil evenly over the entire surface using your finger or a paper towel.
Step 3 – Heat The Oily Pan
Heat the pan on the stove over medium heat. Once it starts to emit smoke, remove it from the stove. This should take three to five minutes max.
If oil puddles appear on the pan, move it around gently. That way, it will spread evenly on the surface.
You can also use an oven for this step. Just preheat it to about 300F before placing the oily pan inside.
Allow the pan to ‘cook’ for 20 minutes before taking it out. Make sure you wear thick gloves before grabbing the hot handle.
Step 4 – Allow The Pan To Dry
Allow the pan to cool down for 15 minutes at room temperature.
This will allow the oil slick pan to dry out.
Plus, all of the small pores on the surface will be sealed. Whatever you do, don’t place the pan in the refrigerator. The material may warp otherwise.
Step 5 – Wipe The Pan
Most of the oil will have dried after 15 minutes but not all of it. Remove the rest with a soft cloth or paper towel once the pan is cool. Once that is done, you can use the pan.
The seasoning on your copper pan should last for three to six months. Just don’t clean it with soap and water. The duration will depend on the regularity of use.
If food starts to stick to it when you are cooking, you should season the pan again. You can damage it irreparably, otherwise.
Re-season the pan using the aforementioned tips, except the first one, and you should be good.
How to Clean a Seasoned Copper Pan after Use
Whatever you do, don’t pop your copper pan in the dishwasher, no matter what it is lined with.
Cleanup should be minimal and quick. After you are done cooking, use a paper towel to wipe off any food left on it.
Do not use steel wool or an abrasive scouring pad. These can damage the surface of the pan and make it stick.
Use a washcloth instead. Plus, don’t pour water on it or soak it in cold water. This will warp the hot surface and can even cause cracks, which can ruin the finish.
How To Clean An Unseasoned Copper Pan After Use
If your copper pan does not require seasoning, you can use a number of methods to clean it:
Lemon and Salt
Cut a lemon in half, add salt to it and rub it on the surface of the pan.
Pay special attention to tough stains. Then, use warm water to rinse the pan and allow it to dry.
You should also buff the pan with a clean piece of cloth to maintain its sheen.
Baking Soda and Ketchup
With time and regular use, your copper pans will get tarnished.
No need to buy expensive products. Just sprinkle some baking soda on a cloth and use it to remove the discoloration.
You can do the same thing by using ketchup.
Just allow it to remain in the pan for a while before cleaning it. This will give the acid in the ketchup enough time to renew that coppery color.
This is an excellent product to clean copper pans if you are in a hurry. All you need to do is soak a sponge in the sauce and rub it all over the dirty pans.
Allow the sauce to remain on there for a few minutes before wiping it off. Then, rinse and dry it.
Whatever you do, do not 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.
What to Look For When Buying Copper Pans
Now that you know how to season these expensive pans, you can buy one without feeling nervous. If you are unsure about your choice, consider the following:
Size and Thickness of the Copper Pan
A good copper pan is 8 to 12 inches long and about two to four pounds in weight.
It should also be at least 2.5 mm thick. This is the perfect girth that can conduct heat evenly. Pans that are thicker take time to heat up and an equally long time to cool down.
The Handle of the Pan
Copper pans that are thick usually have cast iron handles.
These form pits that ensure a sturdy grip and prevent accidents. Plus, these handles can remain cool for a long time.
The Lining of the Pan
Most copper pots are lined with tin, which is a good heat conduction.
However, unlike stainless steel, it is soft and can warp easily. Plus, it can melt if it is exposed to 437°F of heat. Once it is damaged, the lining will have to be replaced.
Copper pans usually come in two finishes i.e. hammered or smooth. The former looks more attractive but both offer great quality.
In other words, stick with a copper pan that is lined with stainless steel.
It will last longer provided you season the pan regularly. It isn’t prone to scratches and will not warp if it is exposed to high temperatures.
Best Heating Methods for Copper Pans
Electric heat – You can heat copper pans using this heat but you will risk discoloring it. This will leave marks, which you may not be able to remove later.
Gas heat – As mentioned before, copper pans that are lined with stainless steel can be used on gas stoves. If the lining is 2.5 mm thick, heat will distribute evenly through the surface.
Induction stove heat – Do not use an induction stove to heat a copper pan. Only cookware that has a magnetic bottom can be used on these safely.
The bottom line is if you want to make great meals, you should invest in copper pans. However, if you buy the stainless steel variety, make sure you season it before use.
That way, the pans will last longer and your meals will taste better. A little effort will go a long way, especially if you maintain the quality with regular seasoning.
Plus, if you want to hang them in plain sight, make sure you polish them to a high sheen. That way, you can make your kitchen décor look great as well.
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