Cleaning Copper Cookware

A Homemade Copper Polish
To clean a discolored copper pot, use a paste of 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, and 1 tablespoon flour. Caution: Wear rubber gloves. Because the vinegar is acid, wash the pot in hot soapy water and rinse it before vigorously buffing for shiny results. You'll have the same success with a paste made of 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon salt.

Copper darkens with use and exposure to air. If you prefer shiny copper, you can clean and polish it easily with commercial copper cleaner. Copper cookware is lined with some other metal, usually tin or steel, to prevent harmful chemical reactions with food. Use only wood, nylon, or nonstick-coated spoons for stirring to prevent scratches. Here are more suggestions:

  • Some copper cookware comes with a protective lacquer coating that must be removed before the utensil is heated. Follow the manufacturer's instructions or place in a solution of 1 cup baking soda and 2 gallons boiling water. Let it stand until the water is cool, peel off the coating, wash, rinse, and dry.

  • Protect copper pans from scorching by making sure there is always liquid or fat in the pan before it is placed on the heat.

  • When melting butter, swirl it around in the bottom of the pan and up the sides. Lower the heat as soon as the contents of the pot reach the boiling point.

Just because it's nonstick, doesn't necessary mean it's easy to clean. Go to the next page for tips on cleaning cookware with a nonstick finish.