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Old 06-23-2013, 08:30 AM   #1
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Question French Cuisinart Copper Core SS Cookware, c. 1987

Dear Forumites-

I just joined your Forum & am looking forward to what I'm able to learn. I discovered an old thread about my current topic but since the last post was 7 years ago I thought it best to start a new thread to get some fresher insights.
I own a set of the Cuisinart Copper Core Stainless Steel cookware, (then still) manufactured in France. My set consists of the 1.5, 3, & 4 qt. saucepans; 5.5 qt. deep sauté pan (with additional lifting handle which was the first I'd seen then!); 10" skillet; and 8 qt. stockpot; all with their matching tight-fitting lids, except for the skillet. These were given to me as a gift in 1987 by my oldest friend who was, then, an amateur chef and gourmand and who now owns a small gourmet market and prepared take-out/catering shop in The Hamptons. She wanted me to have "the best" cooking equipment as I was getting married to someone she wasn't especially keen on but she hoped I would be happy with my cookware, at least ;-)! Although we gave it a very decent try, the marriage didn't last but the cookware most definitely HAS ;-)! It's been wonderful and has performed almost perfectly on every cooking source (due to moving into less than perfect kitchens over the years): gas (yeah!!), standard electric, and now ceramic cooktop. Although I have, use and love my additional types of cookware: my cast iron, my Le Creuset, anodized Commercial Calphalon, various types of random tri-ply SS pots/pans including one new Cuisinart aluminum tri-ply and one All-Clad version, the 26 year old Cuisinart copper core SS has been my "go to" cookware for all of these years. My question is this: With all of the supposedly new technology in cookware now and with the question regarding the value or difference between a copper core or aluminum core within the SS for conductivity, does anyone have input regarding the superiority of the NEW cookware vs. my "old" standby? Is the All-Clad Copper Core REALLY worth its money AND HOW does it stand up to/compare to my (French-made) Cuisinart Copper Core SS that I already have? Your answers will be most appreciated and will likely influence whether my now adult children get some of my cookware now or "later" ;-)! Thanks in advance!

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Old 06-23-2013, 09:38 AM   #2
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Your cookware sounds really nice. I'd keep it. Let the kids fight over it after you're gone. ;-)

I don't think there is any practical difference between copper and aluminum core cookware. All-Clad is really good stuff. It's expensive but you can get some good deals here: Cookware & More - Outlet for All-Clad Irregulars for cookware with cosmetic blemishes.

Consider other brands of tri-ply cookware as well. Cuisinart still makes good clad cookware as do several other makers.

Welcome aboard.
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Old 06-23-2013, 01:55 PM   #3
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I'll attempt to put some perspective on the matter....

"clad" cookware
- other than the huckster's five hundred layers nonsense most often seen the waterless cookware department....
the most common core metals are aluminum and copper.
now, understand that how 'fast' heat flows through these layers is a factor of "how thick is the layer"
for the same thickness, copper conducts heat roughly twice as fast as aluminum, 17 times faster than stainless steel, etc etc.
really thin layers of copper/aluminum - for example the old Revereware line with "copper bottoms" - useless, in reality.

none of the makers I've researched reveal how thick stuff is. just marketing hype and BS about it being the best in the world. bottom line, without buying some and cutting it apart to really see what's there, the consumer has no real data to make such decisions.

you've perhaps heard it said that solid copper cookware is the best. you may have also heard people reply 'hogwash' to such claims.
"the best" has to be defined to one's individual needs and preferences, but it usually includes:
heats evenly over the surface
(perhaps) heats up fast - more or less important depending on the cook/situation
responds quickly to "add / subtract" heat as directed by the cook with the (gas) knob in hand....

not to confuse things here - but as a side light the ability of metal to "hold" heat is a function of its mass, not thickness.
on a pound per pound basis, aluminum holds heat 2.5 times "better" than copper, twice as "better" than cast iron or stainless steel. all these magic numbers sound wonderful - but here's the real life bit of it - for a given thickness layer of aluminum/copper/stainless steel/cast iron, which weighs more?

if you've wondered why people love their cast iron for holding heat better - despite the fact that using a "normalized" coefficient, aluminum is twice the heat holder... pick up a ten inch cast iron fry and a ten inch aluminum fry pan and ask yourself: "which of these is has more mass?"

discounting the costs issues for the moment, solid copper pots (old time tinned or new fangled stainless lined) have a copper body that is 2.5 to 3 mm thick. if you check out 'clad' cookware - regardless of core type - you'll quickly realize none of it even begins to approach that kind of thickness.

which generates the question: "so what good is a copper/aluminum core comma at all?"

the "performance" of a copper core 10" fry pan does not come within half a continent of a solid copper 10 " stainless lined fry pan. got both, been there, done that.

it is something you'll have to buy / try / evaluate for yourself. the manufacturer's provide no data for an engineering analysis - and "reviewers" are humans all burdened with their own personal likes/dislikes/habits.
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Old 06-23-2013, 04:30 PM   #4
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To both Andy M. & dcSaute- THANK YOU, both, for each in your own way making me feel welcome, *not silly* for posting this thread, & for the information in each of your replies!! I realize that so much of what any of us prefer is just that, a preference, but, on the other hand, once you've cooked with good or great equipment, it IS hard to go back! All of the engineering/physics info is wonderful & I *think* I've absorbed it adequately. It's interesting, but I have only one solid copper pan, a French-made stainless lined saucepan, and I must admit that it's pretty wonderful to work with, especially for a cream sauce or something needing almost constant heat and stirring/attention. I guess that's why my gourmet chef cousin in OR long ago traded out ALL of her pots and pans to solid copper! But, in lieu of my doing that I will need to continue to experiment with my various pots and pans and the recipes I work with to see what's best for the way that I cook. Based on the info shared up to now, it DOES seem that if I was willing to spend the money, but all copper was out of the question, that changing out my current copper core Cuisnart to the All-Clad copper core with the copper (and aluminum) that goes ALL of the way up the sides of each pot *might* be worth the money. But, since I haven't, to date, had much trouble with scorching up the sides, perhaps it will take some more adventurous cooking that I'm finally ready to embark on, again, after many years of more mundane kitchen action. Well, plus there's that whole glass-topped electric range thing that MUST be addressed first! Since I likely only have one more year in this place (and town) it makes sense to wait until my next place, which I'm hoping will be my last stop for a while, to change out to a cooktop/range that will make me smile again. I just cannot, for the life of me, understand how ANYONE prefers an electric range to gas! How am I supposed to turn the heat down quickly? How do I keep from scorching anything that isn't mac 'n' cheese ;-)? HOW did this form of cooking become, apparently, the standard default mode in all of the houses and condos/apartments that I've been looking in for quite a few years now (with a few, notable and high end exceptions, of course). I just do NOT get it!! OK, rant over. Thank you for listening ;-)!
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Old 06-24-2013, 01:54 PM   #5
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>>silly question
anything starting off with "What's the best . . . " is bound to generate ah,,, issues.

>>glass top
copper pots will not work on induction burners - nor will copper clad get you anything......
quite sometime back I went through the same situation. tried one after another of all the fancy clad stuff - the "super" solid aluminum stuff,,,, all the "brand/big names"
not happy with the cost-benefit ratio on any of it.

so, since everybody kept saying solid copper is the best I bought a couple pcs.
it is the best, it's worth every penny, bought a bunch more, never regretted any of it.

solid copper is way overboard for steaming vegetables. it shines, as you noted, on sauces and thicker stuff that needs a longer cook. copper can be "too good" - I wound up buying flame tamers as even at the lowest setting the heat conduction was too much.

a lot of the quick response of copper is negated using electric - with gas it is superb tho.
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Old 06-24-2013, 02:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcSaute View Post
>>silly question
anything starting off with "What's the best . . . " is bound to generate ah,,, issues.

>>glass top
copper pots will not work on induction burners - nor will copper clad get you anything......
quite sometime back I went through the same situation. tried one after another of all the fancy clad stuff - the "super" solid aluminum stuff,,,, all the "brand/big names"
not happy with the cost-benefit ratio on any of it.

so, since everybody kept saying solid copper is the best I bought a couple pcs.
it is the best, it's worth every penny, bought a bunch more, never regretted any of it.

solid copper is way overboard for steaming vegetables. it shines, as you noted, on sauces and thicker stuff that needs a longer cook. copper can be "too good" - I wound up buying flame tamers as even at the lowest setting the heat conduction was too much.

a lot of the quick response of copper is negated using electric - with gas it is superb tho.
I am SO jealous! All copper pots?! Well, I really do understand how and why you'd wind up doing that, most especially after trying all of the 'multi-layer clad' this or that stuff. And very interesting, as well, that your conclusion was that they're not worth the money, in the end. I think that, for now, I'll be sticking with what I already have and will save any further adventures in pot and pan buying for when I move and finally have a range that I'm able to really cook on vs. basically 'heat up' things ;-)! Thanks again.
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Old 06-24-2013, 03:03 PM   #7
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>>all copper pots?
no. I still have a raft of plain-jayne stainless - used for boiling/steaming
- a couple antique Griswold (ie thin, lightweight) cast iron,
and an elcheepo Teflon fry pan for "when only the Teflon will do"

I do a lot of sear-oven finish. the no plastic knob/handle oven proof stuff works well for me.

of the many options/combinations available, stuff like stews / chili, etc I use the copper because it's brown in the copper, remove, saute veggies, combine, simmer in the copper, one pot clean-up, etc & so forth.

some odd ball uses - ie no knead bread - into a preheated copper sauce pan (with lid) a ceramic casserole dish w/ lid would work equally as well, I suppose, but the copper is slicker&quicker . . .

stewed chickeen I do in a copper casserole - but only because it's the best "size" - stainless / CI would work just fine.

fried chicken I do in a 12 inch copper evasee - 'cause it's the biggest deepest best responding pot for the job . . . the Griswold CI would also work, but it's too shallow - creates more spatter . . . .
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Old 06-24-2013, 03:08 PM   #8
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The way i see it, if it ain't broken don't fix it. I do not know about "superiority" of new stuff, but i do know that my grand mother could out cook any body with her 2-3 old aluminum pots an 2 frying pans. That is all she had, but I with all my modern equipment cannot come anywhere close to be nearly as good.
Keep your stuff, do not worry about the new stuff, you are just fine.
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