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Old 02-28-2010, 01:55 PM   #1
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Copper with Stainless Surface: Why Cast Iron Handles?

Hi everyone,

I've been researching cookware a lot recently. Maybe too much. Right now, I'm looking to buy a medium (around 10") frying pan or similar pan. I have an All Clad 12" stainless that is useful for bigger things, but don't really have anything that can do smaller jobs (e.g., browning half a stick of butter, heating/making single servings of things like grilled cheese, caramelizing onions). And I don't want to lug out (and clean!) a 12" frying pan for these smaller tasks.

Because I want something that heats evenly, is responsive to different heat settings, and looks nice, I've been considering copper with a stainless steel surface. The thickest copper I could find was 2.5 mm by several brands (I like Mauviel -- do a search on Amazon for "copper extra thick" to see what I'm talking about).

However, these 2.5 mm thick pans have cast iron handles! Will these rust? Isn't cast iron harder to take care of? Why do these pans have cast iron handles?

They do make pans with stainless steal handles (search "cuprinox style"). These are 2 mm thick.

Will the extra 0.5 mm on the pans with cast iron handles make a difference? How much of one? If they had 2.5 mm with stainless handles, I'd know which copper I like (I've also been exploring non-copper--mostly Demeyere).

Basically, do I need to be worried about the cast iron handles?




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Old 02-28-2010, 02:36 PM   #2
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I have a couple of pans with cast iron handles. Never had any trouble with them. Just the same problems of scrubbing around the rivets that applies to stainless, ci, brass or any other material.

Cast iron is used for fences, railings and my favorite griddle....it shouldn't be a problem.

For the very few copper pieces I use, the copper surface is a lot more of a hassle than the handles. The copper usually just sits on it's hooks looking pretty until it gets so dusty and grimy it has to come down and get washed. The copper scratches easily on the stove top. It's not so big an issue when they're really clean, because the scratches kind of disappear....but slightly tarnished is their normal state, and that highlights the scratches.

If you're going to spend that kind of money, I'd go for a decent stainless in a comfortable size, a Sitram or perhaps an All Clad to match your twelve inch.

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Old 02-28-2010, 03:12 PM   #3
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Cast iron handles on copper have the advantage of heating up more slowly, and therefore you can pick up the pot without burning your hand for a longer time. Cast iron is the choice for the better brands of copper cookware. In my experience, the cast iron rusting has not been a problem.
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Old 02-28-2010, 03:34 PM   #4
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Do you have a pot rack? I bought one specifically because I did not want my pots and pans sitting around in a drain rack with water sitting on them (and I need room in the drain rack for all the knives, wooden spoons, and plastic I wash by hand). Cast iron rusting is not a problem unless you leave water sitting on it. With a pot rack, you can just quickly dry your pots the moment you're done washing them and hang them up immediately.
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Old 02-28-2010, 04:13 PM   #5
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If you're happy with the All-Clad 12", why don't you go for a 8" or 10" All-Clad?
"If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe." -Carl Sagan
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Old 02-28-2010, 05:13 PM   #6
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Thank you to all for the replies so far!

JamesS -- it sounds like you're not the biggest fan of copper. In your experience does it cook more evenly and/or respond more quickly to changes in heat than your other cookeware? If not, what do you use? Although I'm willing to spend the money, if it's not that much better, I'd rather save some. Also, I know my stainless scratches on the outside, and you can still see it when it's clean, but it's not horrible. Is copper worse?

Bigjim68 -- I didn't think of that! I guess I had assumed that something so expensive would use stay-cool technology on their handles. It's good to hear that rusting isn't much of a problem, though.

Froggy -- I don't have a pot rack (I'm graduating from college soon and then moving to an apartment, where I *might* be able to put one on a wall if I have the space. I would love one, though :). I'm usually good about drying, though.

Andy -- I'm happy with my All Clad 12", but I wish the handles were better. The shape hurts my hand sometimes. Also, I feel like there's cookware that cooks more evenly than All Clad, or is at least a better value. At the same time, I'm not anti-All Clad, and am still considering it. I'm particularly interested in their d5 line because it's a lot cheaper than something like Demeyere, but Demeyere has better handles. I'm also curious about Mauviel's stainless (no copper, just aluminum) because it's relatively cheap, but haven't been able to find too much information on it. Eventually, I'll just have to make a decision.

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Old 02-28-2010, 06:27 PM   #7
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I have quite a mix of cookware after a lifetime of collecting. I don't find the copper any better than quality stainless, it does a fantastic job though and it does impress people when they see it hanging from the wall rack.

I imagine forty years ago, there probably wasn't anything that could match a thick copper pan for control...but now, we have a lot of great choices.

My favorite pieces for control and consistency are some mid-eighties era Cuisinart pans. They don't make the series anymore, but they're multi-clad stainless with a copper disc encased in the bottom. Awful handles, but they cook great. Every bit as well as the copper and much easier to maintain. They're well scratched up as well....but once the scratches reach critical mass, it gives it a kind of utilitarian workhorse look....not like the copper.

Lately, when I want a new piece, more often than not, it's been the Sitram catering line. Aesthetically, they're not as pretty as All Clad or even my old Cuisinart, but they work really well. I've also invested in a few pieces of DeBuyer's carbon steel line. They're very inexpensive, and great for sauteing veggies or any time that you don't need a lot of control.

I really doubt I'll ever buy another piece of copper (well maybe a bowl for egg beating...been trying to justify one of them for decades now). The only things copper really has going for it is that it's very pretty, and it's traditional. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
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Old 02-28-2010, 09:37 PM   #8
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the cast iron handle is traditional. It does heat more slowly than the copper. It will get hot...use a pot holder. Washed dried and put away, the handles won't rust. They are seasoned or lacquered.
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Old 03-03-2010, 09:39 AM   #9
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Thanks for the replies, again!

James -- sounds like the 80s Cuisinart stuff is a dream! As far as the copper is considered, I don't really care what people think about my cookware, so that's not very high on my priority list.

On the other hand, I myself do care a little about what it looks like, and i don't like Sitram much... Don't get me wrong -- if it were the only stuff that was good, I'd take it even if I didn't like the looks.

Robo -- thanks for the details on the handle.

After some thought, I think I've decided I want my cookware to be dishwasher safe. By no means will I always use the dishwasher, but if I have party or something and need to clean up, I won't want to be handwashing everything. That helps me narrow it down quite a bit. Pretty much between all clad stainless, d5, maviel stainless, or demeyere now...
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Old 03-03-2010, 10:07 AM   #10
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IMO you dont need a Mauviel skillet to make a grilled cheese.

I have a lot of nice cookware, including Mauviel, but I also have 2 smaller "Emerilware" skillets that I got for a song at the WS Outlet (for like $15). They work like a charm.

Less is not more. More is more and more is fabulous.
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