I started yearning for copper cookware in my early twenties when I became interested in professional cooking; however, it took another decade for me to reach the stage of prosperity where I could begin to afford to collect pieces. The saucepan pictured above was one of my first copper indulgences and I think it was a good one since I use this piece almost daily. Likewise, I use my Dutch oven, wok and the smaller version of this saucepan on a regular basis, too.
Then there are the vanity pieces:
• The fish poacher I use once every two years
• The copper bowl rarely gets used since I usually whip egg whites with my stand mixer
• The oval sauté pan doesn’t quite fit on my stove’s burners so it hides out underneath all the other pieces.
There are practical reasons for loving copper cookware; it conducts heat well, has just enough heft to limit scorching and is easily scrubbed clean if it gets cooked on.
As you can see from the picture above, I like my copper cookware best when it’s not polished to a high shine. A little patina on Mauviel pots and pans makes them look like they belong in a serious kitchen. When I do need to clean my pans due to house frau guilt or for a TV segment or cooking demo, I make a paste using baking soda, coarse salt and white vinegar. Then, I grab a nylon scrubby and scour this mixture over the copper. Once rinsed, the outside of the pots is a not-too-shiny rosy pink.
If you have a cleaning tip for copper, please do share. I like my method because it is cheap and environmentally sound but I bet there are other tricks I need to know.