The most common question I’m asked in my kitchen is “do you really use your copper pots?” which kinda makes me giggle. When my husband first started purchasing our copper pots, I kept them polished and beautiful, and still reached for my All-Clad and Cuisinart standbys. As I slowly started using the copper beauties, I became a believer in copper. It might be because I’m a bit controlling … and the copper responds so quickly to heat that it fuels my desire to control.The first copper pots in my collection were used, and not marked with a brand-name, and it seemed that Baumalu was regularly sold on eBay. My husband can be a bit obsessive when it comes to learning and researching, which can make me crazy (I’ll admit it … I usually buy the first car I test-drive). He couldn’t find much information on-line about them, but today I have 5 Baumalus and they are my most used. Here’s what I’ve learned about them, having now used them for a couple of years.
There seem to be three lines of Baumalu copper, which is usually not specified on eBay. One line is a hammered copper, which I don’t have any of, since they always seem to sell higher and don’t think they would out-perform the others. Another line is the lighter weight, less expensive line and is easy to spot in a photo because it has a chromed-steel handle and is a stainless steel pot with a thin layer of copper on the exterior (the stainless steel appears to be 2 mm thick, and copper less than 1 mm).
I use this pot when I’m looking for more consistency and don’t need as much control since the stainless steel doesn’t change temperature as quickly as tin. The much heavier, much sturdier, and much less refined-looking Baumalu (I’m guessing it’s a commercial line) have cast iron handles and 2 ml thick copper. They are tin-lined, which I prefer, particularly for sauces since there’s no burn ring as the sauce reduces, and if I’m cooking something that I need precise heat control, there just isn’t a better option. When using copper, remember that you can’t set an empty pot on a heated burner, or you’ll separate the tin layer from the copper. Also, if you’re using a commercial-style range with high BTU burners, there’s never a reason to turn the heat higher than “medium” … I can boil water quicker in these pots on medium heat than in a stainless steel All-Clad on high. Even though all but one of my Baumalus were new when I bought them, I enjoy using them since it makes me feel like I’m cooking in the Downton Abbey kitchen. Sometimes I hear that folks are afraid of the tin, thinking it won’t pass the test of time, but I haven’t had any problems, and haven’t yet had my pots re-tinned.
Copper vs Copper
I didn’t buy a set of pots, I bought the pots one at a time based on what I needed (which is a post for another time). I have a Mauviel and a few Ruffonis in my collection that are just downright beautiful, but I find myself reaching for my Baumalus more regularly since I love to be in control. 😉
A word about thickness
Julia Child was known for saying to buy copper cookware that’s at least 3 mm thick … I have only one this thick that my husband found used on-line. It’s a Baumalu windsor pan. I’ve never seen a Baumalu 3 mm copper pot new … probably because the price would be so high. My Baumalu 2 mm 11-inch braiser is pretty heavy; if it were 3 mm, even though I lift weights every week, I don’t know if I could pick it up, especially if it was full! The difference in the way sauces reduce when comparing my 2 mm with 3 mm is so very slight, I don’t think it’d be worth the money. But, I do highly recommend spending the money to get a 2 mm verses 1, especially for reductions.
Keeping copper clean
The second most-asked question I’m asked is how I keep my copper pots cleaned. To be honest, I kinda like the patina look on my pots. I’ll make ’em shine at Thanksgiving by using my Bar Keepers Friend. You can also clean the copper by slicing a lemon, dipping in coarse salt, and rubbing it in to the copper. Another option is to rub ketchup over the copper, let it sit for a little while, then rinse off.