Cooking with Copper

As part of our collaboration with CRANE, Hannah Geller explains why working with copper brings out a completely different side to cooking.

I consider myself to be pretty heavy handed in the kitchen. Over the years, my cast irons have become my go-to, cooking cave man style, heavy searing on high heat and basically pretending I’m standing in front of an open fire.

Cooking with copper brings out my gentler, more delicate side. It’s innate elegance and stature forces me to stand up straight, pull myself together and treat the pan and its ingredients with discerning, graceful deference. I would even venture to say that cooking in copper makes me a better cook. Using objects of beauty in the kitchen forces me pay more attention and take more care over every stage of creating a dish.

These copper pans are the easiest and most agile I have ever used, with their adaptability from hob to oven to table and heat conduct and quick cooling ability. In fact, copper is the inverse to cast iron, which takes time to reach temperature. While cast iron retains the heat amazingly, it also has hot spots.

In contrast, copper heats up extremely quickly and delivers an incredibly even surface. Its ability to loose heat as quickly as it warms, makes it ideal for sugar work or chocolate, sauces seafood and fish as the pan temperature drops quickly once its taken off the heat, eliminating the risk of ingredients overcooking in the pan.

Here are my tips for copper cooking success:

  • Mise-ing is not just for baking. It’s really important to gather all your ingredients and have them out, measured and ready before you light the flame. Because of its even heating and quick response, copper allows for slightly faster cooking times. You attention should be controlling the flame under the pan rather than scrambling around the kitchen……
  • Do not preheat your copper. I turn on the pan with my fat of choice already in the bottom and let it warm as the pan heats. It will avoid damaging the pan or burning the fat before the ingredients are added.
  • You have a lot of control when cooking on copper. Start on a slightly lower heat than normal and slowly increase or decrease as necessary. It’s an extremely responsive material and thus gives a wide scope of flexibility.
  • Like all objects of beauty, copper does require a little aesthetic maintenance (for vanity purposes only). The mottling and dark spots that appear after some time on the heat won’t affect the output of the pan. If you are troubled by the imperfections, here’s a polish recipe that you can make in a quiet moment to have on hand. Dissolve together 1tbsp salt and 100ml white vinegar. Add enough flour to make a thin paste (think Elmers Glue). Store in a container under your sink for easy access when needed. After washing your pan, dip a moist paper towel into the paste and rub all over the outside of the pan. Rinse off with warm soapy water. Presto.
    Everything is more fabulous in copper.