Caring for Copper Pots

Copper pots are considered one of the crème de la crème of cookware. They are beautiful, casting that golden hue across the kitchen, personifying a classic, elegant way of old world cooking. I am the fortunate recipient of my grandmother’s old copper cookware, in addition to some very generous wedding gifts. I love cooking and entertaining with our copper pieces. The older cookware hold tradition, and we are creating new memories with each additional use of all our copper. Not only is it beautiful, copper is one of the best conductors of heat, evenly distributing the heat through your food. I tell you, a watched copper pot does boil! When cooking though, you do not need extreme heat – keep a moderate flame and let the copper work it’s magic.

Provided I’m still cooking with my grandmother’s pots & pans, it’s a testament that copper pots are built to last. They are a true craftsmanship. Much to my husband’s dismay though, they do not go in the dishwasher (unlike his speciality dish, Dishwasher Salmon!). Below are some guidelines when it comes to taking care of your speciality copper pots & pans.

General Use

  • Do not store food in copper – it is intended only for cooking & serving.
  • In order to avoid staining of the lining, only add salt after the pot content has reach boiling point (this applies to all pots).
  • Never place an empty pan on a hot stove or in the oven.
  • Metal utensils could damage the tin lining, so only use wooden or plastic utensils.
  • Since copper conducts heat, use caution when touching lids or handles as they too will be hot.
  • The tin lining over time may darken and have stains, which is a natural process and is not harmful. It is caused by exposure to heat. Use of high temperatures, salt, citrus, wine and acidic foods such as tomatoes could accelerate this process.
  • Discontinue the use of the cookware if the copper becomes visible through the tin lining. Certain foods could react when exposed to copper, which could cause illness. If this is the case, your cookware needs to be retinned by a professional. Search the internet for your local sources for retinning of copper cookware. A couple companies that have been recommended are East Coast Tinning and Rocky Mountain Retinning.


  • Copper cookware needs to be cleaned well after each use, including completely drying. Discoloration will occur if water is left on the surface.
  • Hand wash with a soft sponge or cloth (never an abrasive sponge or steel wool) with mild detergent.
  • If food is stuck to the cookware, fill the pot with a little water and place over low heat. Shortly after, the foods will soften and will easily wash off. (*Note, sticking should not occur if cooking on low to moderate heat).
  • To polish the copper, or remove stains, rub discolored areas with a cloth dampened in lemon juice and salt. A combination of equal amounts lemon juice & baking soda, which will create a paste, will also work on tarnishes. No lemon or baking soda? A basic white vinegar on a soft cloth will also bring back the shine. After any of these solutions, rinse under warm water and dry completely.
  • If homemade remedies are not doing the trick on stubborn stains, you can also use a good quality copper polish, such as Wright’s Copper Cream. Like the homemade solutions, be sure to rinse under warm water after, and dry completely.

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