Copper pans are always a great addition to any kitchen, be it in a home, a fast-food, or a restaurant. The use of copper cooking pans and utensils gained popularity among chefs worldwide because of superb heat conductivity and precise temperature control. If you already own some copper cookware, then I’m sure you have found it to be a superb piece of kit and might now find yourself wondering how to clean these pots or pans before you store them away in the cupboard ready for your next gastronomic masterpiece.
Copper is used in cookware because it is one of the most conductive metals. This means that it transfers heat faster than most metals. The only other metal than can outdo copper in this category is silver. It would probably be nice to have silver pans and silver pots hanging around the pantry but there is just not enough of this metal to produce these kitchen items in massive quantities. In most kitchens today, you are likely to come across pots and pans made from the more available copper, cast iron, and stainless steel materials.
One more thing you should know about copper is that there will always be discolorations on the surface when copper items are exposed to heat. If you know how to deal with these stains and blemishes, it really will not be a problem. The first thing to keep in mind is to definitely avoid the dishwasher when cleaning your copper cookware. These pots should absolutely be afforded the care and consideration of hand washing to keep them with a nice shine.
Before you start work on cleaning any blemishes from your copper cookware, make sure to have the following items:
Dishwashing liquid or dishwashing soap
Water, preferably warm
A good tub, wash basin, or kitchen sink to work on
Plastic scrubbers or sponge or any non-abrasive scrubber
For your homemade stain solution, you may want to have enough salt and at least a couple of lemon or lime fruits. You may also need flour and white vinegar or you may try Bar Keepers Friend cookware cleanser & polish
Soft cloths for drying
When you have all you need:
Start by filling your washbasin or your kitchen sink with water. Warm water works better than cold.
Add dishwashing liquid or dishwashing soap enough to form suds when agitated.
Put the pan and all copper cookware in the tub or sink, making sure that all of the food stains are submerged in water.
Keep the cookware immersed in water for several hours. The water with dishwashing liquid will soften all food particles burnt and stuck on the copper surface so that it can be lightly scrubbed away.
After five to six hours, or if you find the burnt food already softened enough, drain the sink or washbasin.
If needed, you may add more dishwashing liquid or soap.
Use only soft sponges. Some prefer non-abrasive plastic scrubbers or any material gentle enough for wiping away all stuck on grime off the utensils.
If necessary, repeat until you are satisfied you have taken off the grime and stains.
Wash the cookware as you would any pan normally and keeping sure to rinse off all soap suds.
If you still see parts with blemishes on the copper surface, do not worry. This is a natural copper reaction when subjected to high temperature such as an open flame. If this, however, bothers you because you do want your kitchen and pans to always have that glimmering shine, simply wipe it off with Bar Keepers Friend Cookware cleanser and polish. This is a handy aid to always have in your kitchen. Personally, I think a slight tarnish adds a certain patina, and doesn’t harm the pan at all so I generally don’t worry too much about cleaning off every little spot.
To address most stains, you can simply take a lime or lemon and slice it into halves. Sprinkle a generous amount of salt on the cut surface of the lime or lemon until you have it completely covered. Use the lemon and salt combination to scrub over the discolored spots. You have just made a very simple substitute for a copper cleanser.
If you have the time, you can also try another remedy for such emergencies. Prepare flour, white vinegar and salt in equal amounts. Combine the white vinegar, flour and salt together and you have mixture strong enough for the grime and stains yet still gentle for the copper surface.
Keep in mind that whenever you apply copper cleansers, whether homemade or commercially bought, always use warm to lukewarm soapy water in washing copper pots and pans. Have a soft dish towel to buff you cookware and make them shine.
You can help your copper cookware last longer with these kitchen tips and hacks:
Avoid using metallic scrubbers or any abrasive cleaners over copper surfaces. If you must, use as light pressure as possible.
Follow the method mentioned above in cleaning copper utensils.
To avoid scorching the surface of your pans and pots, ensure that the cookware is not empty whenever you have it on your burners or stove top. BEFORE putting it on the stove top, check that you have cooking oil in it or just enough amount of liquid.
Keep in mind that although having clean and polished copper cookware makes your kitchen appear beautiful, the copper discoloration has no effect over the pan’s or pot’s performance. If it does not bother you, the stain, blemish, or discoloration on the copper surface need not be taken off.
Some unconventional but otherwise potent copper surface cleaners include Tabasco, catsup, and Worcestershire sauce. Use these items by rubbing it over the copper surface before washing it off. Dry the cookware with soft cloth to keep all copper utensils clean, looking great and glimmering.
If you are in a rush, there is also a faster way although it requires more effort in cleaning your copper pans. If your favorite copper pan gets tarnished with burnt food or becomes discolored, mix a tablespoon of salt and a cup of vinegar to a pot of boiling water. Place the pan or pot in the water and let them boil for two to three hours. Take your copper cookware out of the boiling water and wash as normal with dishwashing soap and water. Immediately dry with soft cloth.