There are several reasons why chefs, both professionals and the home variety, love cooking with copper pots. Aside from how undeniably stunning they look hanging from hooks in the kitchen or shining on your stove, copper is also an excellent conductor of heat, making copper cookware among the most evenly-heating (via Chef Talk). Further, it’s of ideal weight to make it sit steadily on a burner yet still light enough, even when full, to be lifted with one hand. Because copper is highly reactive with certain foods, however, most copper cookware is lined with either tin or stainless steel. Tin, unfortunately, wears down quickly, so while the stainless steel versions are more expensive, they last a lot longer.
Even so, keeping copper pots clean and prolonging their life is much more of a process than, say, plain stainless steel cookware you can toss into the dishwasher, so if you aren’t sure whether you’re taking all the necessary steps to maintain your copper pots, read on!
How to polish and clean your copper cookware
In order to preserve your pots as long as possible, hand wash them immediately (rather than leaving them in the sink to soak, as long exposure to moisture isn’t great for them), and then dry promptly and completely with a soft, clean dish towel (via ChefTalk). In other words: No dishwasher and no drying rack. Now that you’ve got the basics down, there are important things to consider when it comes to polishing your copper pots to prevent corrosion and to banish tarnishing (via PureWow). Copper tarnishes very easily because it is so easy for the metal to oxidize — ever seen a copper-roofed building? The shiny metal only lasts so long before it is green and white with corrosion.
Before using any of the following methods to polish your copper pots, check to see if yours have been sealed with an oil or lacquer (if they are super shiny, it’s a safe bet they are sealed). If they are not sealed, then there are a few methods of safely polishing your pots. According to Copper H20, mixing lemon juice and salt into a paste and using a soft cloth to polish the mixture over the pot gently will help to remove stains and tarnish. If you prefer, you can also use vinegar mixed with salt in the same way. In both cases, you want just enough of the acidic liquid to turn the salt into a paste, and then simply buff the stains away.
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