Tuesday, January 27, 2009

kitchen tip Tuesday...simple copper care

I clean my copper cookware regularly to maintain its cooking properties and the glow of the beautiful copper I love so well.
The pots and pans that I have, are working pots and pans that get heavy use.
So keeping a showroom shine cannot be a priority for me. I am a culinary student and a serious home cook and baker. But I also want my copperware to stay in good shape and perform when I need it.

I realize I cannot keep them pristine and shiny as new, but I for one like the looks of well used copper with its lovely soft patina.
First on my list for caring for my copper is that I never put copper pans, bowls, molds, cookie cutters or utensils in the dishwasher. The alkaline properties of dishwasher detergent is as detrimental to copper as it is to my knives.

And, yes I admit that sometimes I do torture my copper pots and pans and use them on a burner where the heat is too high for too long a time. That creates a dark stain on the bottoms of the pots and pans that I try to remove when I wash my wonderful copper workhorses. There are dozens of powdered and liquid potions out there as well as chemical impregnated cloths that will do this job.

But the method that has always worked for me is simple and clean and green…
lemon and coarse grain kosher salt.
This method takes much less time and work than commercial copper preparations.
I also like that it is food safe and eco-friendly. Perhaps lemons seem more costly in these days of the ecomonic downturn, well I use what I have left after my morning tea. And I only clean my pots in this manner every few weeks or when it is necessary.

With these ingredients, I don’t have to worry if I have thoroughly washed and rinsed the chemicals off my pots or that I am washing toxic chemicals into my water system.

Cut a lemon in half and pour salt on the open side of the lemon. Rub this onto tarnished areas of the copper pot. The salt acts as a very mild abrasive as it melts and reacts with the lemon and cleans the copper. This method also creates an even matt patina on the pots that gives my kitchen a warm inviting glow when hung in a row above my stove.

Another approach to copper care was one I remember from my grandmother. She had a beautiful sparkling blue-green wide-mouth jar on her kitchen counter next to the sink.
It contained an equal mix of flour, salt, and white vinegar.
She mixed it all to form a paste. When she needed to clean her copper pots, she put some of this homemade mixture on a small white cloth and worked on her copper pots…
Viola...shiny and beautiful pots and pans.

I am so sorry I have been not as present lately as I like on this blog…
I have been off in the culinary world, working enormously hard, expanding, learning, and cooking up a storm. But at the same time gathering new info to impart to all of you.

Merci beaucoup to all my devoted readers for your patience and your loyalty to me and my fledgling blog. You all mean a great deal to me.


Anonymous said...

You're back! How are you? So glad to see your post this morning. Don't tell me that the photo is of YOUR kitchen? I'll die of jealousy.
Great article for a troubling task.
Your Tuesday tips are always interesting.

A Brush with Color said...

Oh, I knew about the lemon and kosher salt, but I never tried your grandmother's concoction, and I can't wait to go explore that one! I knew you would be someone who'd use that lemon method--you are so good! I love peeking in to see what banner changes and new ideas you have here, Terrie. Take care, thanks for this newest of tips, and stay warm!!!!

Katherine said...

My mother always used Ajax i think. She has copper bottom pots that hung on our wall. They were more for show than cooking! These are great solutions as i hate using any kind of store bought product on things we are eating on. I know we wash our dishes in soap but when possible I'll use more natural products.

Glad your back. We learn so much from you.

Peter said...

And it's NOW that you tell me how to clean the copper! I sold all my copper outfit a few months ago, a bit tired of cleaning it with normal commercial stuff... and hardly using it! Too bad!! :-(

jeanette mistress of longears said...

My copper collection is limited to a few cookie cutters, but I lust for a gratin pan and some saucepans...maybe this will motivate me!

Copper pots and pans said...

Lemon does clean Copper the best.