It’s not a surprise that most households have ample stock of surgical masks, latex gloves and antibacterial hand sanitizers. With a new wave of Covid-19 among us and lingering on surfaces, we must take all precautions to stay healthy. However, there is an antimicrobial material which has long proven itself to kill bacteria and viruses, sometimes within minutes - copper! Copper cookware is not as common as stainless steel or cast iron but here are some facts which might make you consider copper for your next cookware purchase.
It was in the mid-nineteenth century, during the cholera epidemic in France that doctors and scientists credit copper as the main reason jewelers, goldsmiths and boilermakers were largely spared of the illness. In fact, more recently, studies have shown that copper can destroy microbes in influenza, norovirus, E-coli and certain strains of coronaviruses. While there haven’t been studies to show whether copper eliminates microbes in the novel strain of the current Covid-19, it might be a good idea to consider adding a few pieces of copper cookware to the kitchen.
Copper cookware is actually extremely efficient as it heats quickly and evenly but cools down promptly as well. Many commercial kitchens use them to prepare sauces or for searing. However, copper should not be used to cook acidic ingredients such as vinegar, tomatoes, lemon juice and wine as the copper could seep into the food, which, over time, would be toxic.
That is why most modern copper cookware are lined for everyday use. Tin is traditionally used to line copper pots and pans as it does not react to acid and is relatively non-stick. But because of its low melting point, tin wears through easily and is scratch sensitive. A more common lining these days is stainless steel for its durability. Copper cookware does take some care in terms of cleaning. After time, the shiny exterior often loses its luster and becomes discolored. The least abrasive way to clean them is to use professional copper cleaning products.
Bear in mind that copper pots and pans are relatively more expensive than stainless steel or cast iron ones. Investing into a set of thick copper stock pots can run up to thousands of dollars, but with proper maintenance, they can also outlast other material. When shopping for copper cookware, make sure to ask how thick the copper is and avoid ones with just a thin copper lining. While whether or not copper cookware can help our fight with Covid-19 remains to be seen, there’s no harm in digging out that old copper pan from the cupboard.