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Copper cookware are some of the most expensive pots and pans that you can buy. Some major manufacturer would be Falk Culinair a Belgium brand, Mauviel a french brand, Matfer Bourgeat another French brand and Ruffoni a Italian brand. A single pan can cost upwards of 2-400 dollars. Not exactly the same price you pay for a non stick pan. However if you do decide to invest in copper pots and pans, Copper Cookware benefits are unrivaled in terms of their performance. In order to see how copper excel, you would first need to know some general rules on what make a pan a good pan. We will be listing all of the key factor when purchasing a pan and see why copper is king.
The first and most important thing is heat distribution. That is how well the heat travels throughout the pan. If you have poor heat conductivity, like cast iron does. Heat spots will develop on the pan. Only certain part of the food will develop a proper maillard reaction. You want to get a even browning so that more flavor is developed and a uniform cooking result. To get a better idea why copper cookware trumps all other materials, I listed the thermal conductivity of some commonly used metal.
These numbers were pulled from EngineersEdge website. But as you can see, copper conduct heat 4 times as much as cast iron, a common favorite. A lot of manufacturer will use Aluminum because it is cheaper and lighter however it still does not beat copper in terms of performance.
Heat Retention is high on copper cookware because of how dense the metal is. Heavier pan in general will retain heat better. Why do you want a dense heavy pan? To get a good sear on food. Often time people will crowd the pan or not heat up the pan properly. What happens is that if you do not have enough heat stored in the pan, the food will steam, meaning you will overcook the food without developing a maillard reaction, which is a canalization of sugar. Out of all the commonly used metal, copper wins in terms of density.
As you can see, copper has the highest density of all the metals. Which means for a pan that occupy the same volume, copper will win in terms of heat retention. So far copper is wining two for two. A pretty promising show of what the Copper Cookware Benefits are.
Heat Sensitivity means how well it reacts to a change in heat. This measurement is basically thermal conductivity. As you saw in the chart before, copper has the best thermal conductivity. Why would you want a pan with good thermal conductivity? So you can stop cooking or lower the heat in an instant. Pans with a poor thermal conductivity will keep on cooking the food after you shut down the heat. The caveat to this is that the heat sensitivity is also closely related to Heat Retention, the thicker your copper is, the poorer the heat sensitivity.
If you want to cook a delicate sauce for example, it will be better if you got a very thin copper pan. That lets you adjust the heat on a whim. It will cool down and heat up very quickly. A different pan that is made with stainless steel at the same thickness will not get the same performance.
So what exactly is the disadvantage of copper? Mainly the price and weight. The price of copper is by far more expensive than all of the other metals. The weight is heavier as well, most people do not enjoy carrying heavy pots and pans. Other issues include the reactivity of copper in general. They react with acidic food and impart some off flavor. Manufacturer got around this by using a stainless steel or tin lining. However, if you look at the other metals, almost all of them react one way or another. Copper will rust and Aluminum reacts with acidic food. Stainless Steel does not react but it just performs worst of all the different metal.
One other disadvantage that I can think of is the fact that copper patina over time. Some people do not like the fact that it becomes darker and would like to keep it polished. Manufacturer like Falk Culinair brush their copper pots and pans to reduce the amount polishing. Others like the patina so it is really a matter of preference more than anything else.
I hope that you can see what the Copper Cookware Benefits are. They are the best cooking utensils you can find nowadays. You can find reviews on some of the best copper pans here. Let me know what your thoughts are on copper, is it worth it?