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Old 08-30-2009, 03:53 AM   #1
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Copper Cookware--Tin vs Stainless Linings

I have both SS and Tin-lined copper pans from Mauviel. All told I must have 30 of them of most of the available sizes and shapes collected over a few years.

To me, after much use of both types, the tin lining is better but not because of durability. Stainless is worse but not due to lowered conductivity as I hear a lot about. It is not that big a factor.

The real reason I prefer tin: I get an easy release after a medium-brown finish, and just the right deglaze in the pan. The deglaze bits release easily, I get good gravies, nothing is burnt, and no chunks of food get stuck.

SS linings were probably created for American markets where people turn on the heat and walk away from an empty pan, which will melt the tin. They probably brought back a lot of cookware with melted tin, so the stores began dumping them to discount houses like Marshall's and TJ Maxx, where they fell into my hands to name one buyer. It is now hard to find any tin lined stuff at Williams-Sonoma, or Sur La Table, etc. You can still order tin-lined copper pans from Fante's in Philadephia, or Chef's Resouce, and lots of other online shops still have them. This isn't just for purists. Some cooks will still prefer stainless just because it takes a pounding without damage. But as for Re-lining, it is not needed as long as you don't do tomato or citrus, vinegar, etc in your pans, which would combine with the copper. Bamboo spatulas work fine with tin, as do some plastics but test first to ensure they don't scratch the tin.

Finally I hear a lot of misinfo about cleaning the pans. Simple physics would say to keep the sides a bit shiny to retain heat, but the bottoms let go black to absorb heat. If bottoms are shiny they repel heat from the stove by reflection and reduce efficiency of heat transfer. The tin linings should be left to go gray. Do not clean them, just wipe with water and sponge maybe some soap and a brush, but no detergents or powders like BarKeeper's Friend. The darker the insides are the more heat they will transfer to the food. Dark coarse surfaces transmit heat, shiny smooth ones retain heat. So your pot sides and lids can be cleaned once in awhile, but not that often as to be a burden or to wear them down. Not that much is changed by cleaning the pans. It was done historically in fine kitchens for the "cook's tour" and they had galley slaves to shine the copper. Don't be one, it's unecessary and silly. Once a year, at most.
Bob

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Old 08-30-2009, 02:07 PM   #2
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A couple of years back, I gave away nearly all my SS pans, and now cook almost exclusively in copper or CI. I have both SS and tin lined. For me, I prefer the tin lined. There are some caveats, however. Tin lined copper does require more care. You cannot use metal utensils at all. For this reason, I would not use tin lined copper if I had kids around. Tinning is required occassionally, although not as often as some would imply. I have enough of some sizes to have made side by side comparisons in cooking time, generaly boiling similar quantities of water. IMO, there is little difference in cooking times. Generally, the SS time is slightly longer. I do keep my copper relatively clean, but they are tools, and I do not get upset if they are not squeaky shiny. All in all, the bottom line is that good food is produced by good cooks, not the pan in which it is cooked. If it works for you, do it.
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Old 08-30-2009, 06:40 PM   #3
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I agree much with bobluhrs above. I also got my tinned copper very reasonably at Marshalls etc. I also agree that it cooks extremely well. I do happen to polish my copper simply because it is easy to do whenever I wash up. I does not cook any better either way. I also agree let the tin go dark. It is natural for it to do so. soak it and wipe it clean with a sponge. Never scour.
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Old 08-30-2009, 08:45 PM   #4
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The thing about greying of tin lining. A mute point as you cannot stop the tin from turning dark if you use it. Heat discolors tin. Nothing wrong with that. If you try to remove it, you are going to end up with a coppery color' I gave a set of very fine hand hammered tin lined saucepots to a .freind of mine for a gift, and she will not use it as it would then not be shiny. And she is the best cook I know
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Old 08-31-2009, 06:47 AM   #5
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all in the point of view. I drive my car (it may get bugs and dirt on it and it may get dinged.) I live in my house (I may fill a trash can, I may spill coffee) I cook in my pots and pans (they may get scratched, they may darken in color) but in each case I am using the items I have purchased. If I don't I probably am wasting my money. If it is a gift and I don't use it, then it is gathering dust.
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Old 08-31-2009, 02:35 PM   #6
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i seldom even attempt to clean the copper, but it's sorta cool when I do, then it turns a bit darker and looks really deep. then it goes sort of drab.

it would seem that nothing except bare copper on acidic foods is really anything to worry about. i bought some tin bars in case I needed to do the tinning myself, and i tried it out on some random bits of copper... but forgot the flux, so of course nothing stuck to the copper. great fun all this experimentation! don't get burnt!

Bob
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Old 08-31-2009, 03:46 PM   #7
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I had copper pots & pans for years. Got tired of trying to keep them clean. They didn't work well on my new stove, either.
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Old 08-31-2009, 04:41 PM   #8
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not really sure why pots and pans have to be clean down to bare metal. i understand silverware and plates, glasses, etc, because you don't bring them to 200 degrees or more. but cookware? if you do have germs on your cookware, when you heat them, don't they become "vaccines" which are just "dead germs"? The immune system needs them to copy and make antibiodies.
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Old 08-31-2009, 05:39 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobluhrs View Post
not really sure why pots and pans have to be clean down to bare metal...

How thick a layer of non-metallic materials do you leave on your pots and pans?
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Old 08-31-2009, 07:36 PM   #10
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well depends. if I cook a scrambled egg on tin-lined copper pan, just the layer of clarified butter remains after the egg is removed. If it would drip when hang up the pan I wipe with paper towel.

If it's meats in a skillet I run water over the remains after deglazing, wipe with cloth or paper towel, set pan aside for next time. I don't care what is in there so long as most of the surface is pretty close to clean. Coloration does not matter, but darker is better since it transfers more heat. Meat searing residue is great for gravy, so I wet it and scrape with bamboo, maybe add pinch of flour, pepper maybe some red wine, that removes almost all the residue. The rest is great for next time. Things come out tasting great this way.

I can't say how thick or thin but it's appearance only, you probably could not really measure any accumulations. The word "tinged" sort of applies.
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