Copper pans are not just beautiful to look at: they play an important role in any kitchen's battery of pans. Copper is perfect for precision cooking. They heat up quickly and evenly, up the sides as well as the base of the pan, making them perfect for sauces, risottos, casseroles, curries – even porridge and scrambled eggs. They are only ever used on a low to medium heat and need half the gas/electricity of a normal pan to reach the same temperature. The real magic is the evenness of the cooking, without hot spots and throughout the contents. A copper pot is made from one single sheet of solid copper beaten into a pan shape. The base is not thicker than the sides. It doesn’t need to be, as the heat is distributed evenly throughout the pan. So when you cook a bechamel, the sauce at the top of the pan is being heated by the copper sides at the same rate as the sauce of the bottom of the pan.
The way the copper conducts heat is very different from other metals such as stainless steel or cast iron. It conducts evenly and very quickly. It is immensely reactive, hence it also cools down quickly, the moment you turn down the stove. This gives the cook much more control over the cooking process. Stainless steel and cast-iron do not conduct heat in the same way. A Le-Creuset-style cast iron pan, has the opposite use from a copper pan. If you want a really hot temperature, to sear a steak or to stir-fry, for example, cast iron is the material to turn to. It takes longer to heat up than copper, but then holds the heat and can take much higher temperatures than a tin-lined copper pan (see below!) In fact, copper pan handles are usually made of cast-iron, and in my own experience, my ragout sauce will have finished cooking in the copper pan, yet I can still pick up the cast-iron handle without a cloth - because of the minimal heat needed to get there.
Copper is the perfect material for when you want to control the heat and rate of cooking. It is also renowned for the evenness of the way it cooks, so no hot spots, and as long as you don’t get impatient and whack up the heat, tin-lined pans are much less likely to stick than other kinds of pan. Things to cook in a copper pan include:
Cast-iron for the steak, stainless steel to boil and fry the frites, and the copper pan to make the perfect pepper sauce. You could boil the potatoes in a copper pan, of course, and the water would heat up extremely quickly. But for every day use, it’s extra wear on the tin-lined pan, when stainless steel is better for the job! And a cast-iron skillet would sear the steak perfectly, as it can be heated up much hotter than the copper pan. Meanwhile, the sauce will cook evenly on the lowest heat without catching, giving perfectly-controlled results.
The bourgignon itself would be cooked on the stove top in what the French call a copper “faitout” - or a “does-all pan”, which is basically a round or oval casserole dish/Dutch oven with a lid. This can be set on the lowest heat to simmer away on the stove top with its lid on,or be transferred to a very cool oven for a beautiful, even slow cook. The cast-iron handles will heat up on this kind of pan because of the close contact with the copper. The rice, potatoes or vegetables accompanying it will be fine cooked in a large stainless steel pan.
The thickness of every pan I sell is solid copper: the tin lining is painted on by hand or machine-applied. The thicker the copper is, the better the heat transfers to the food: thickness is referred to here as “gauge”. Pans suitable for domestic use are normally 1mm thick. 1.5mm pans are a slightly thicker and heavier version. Professional gauge pans are between 2mm and 3mm thick. In terms of function, these are obviously even better than the 1mm pans, but domestic gauge still works brilliantly and is better for those who prefer a lighter pan. As those of you who have picked up Chaleureuse pans at London fairs will know, they can get pretty heavy. However, the thicker pans aren't referred to as professional for nothing: the heat transfer is outstanding. If you love cooking but have never used a copper pan, you haven't lived.....
All Chaleureuse copper is tin-lined, either with its original lining or with brand-new retinning. Every pan is sold in a condition fit for use, although the amount of wear to the lining is taken into account in the pricing. Blackening of the tin is normal, as it oxidises through contact with food – and even the air! Many of these pans have been kept hanging on the kitchen wall for decades and have not been used. The colour of the tin in no way affects the function.
Tin-lined pans are the kind used by chefs: the tin helps with heat transfer as well as preventing the copper reacting with the acids in food. Stainless steel-lined pans and those with copper bases do NOT have the same function as tin-lined pans., although they are still beautiful items in their own right. The reason chefs use tin-lined pans and have the bother of retinning them is because of the control and precision they give, like no other kind of cookware.
Hand-tinned products have a naturally uneven look which is perfectly normal. Some people even say that although they tend to pick up blackening (oxidisation) in their uneven finish, the linings last longer because they are thicker than machine-tinning. The jury is still out for me...I think both have their advantages. Machine-tinning certainly looks “cleaner” for longer, if that bothers you! Both work equally well.
If you look after copper pans, the linings will last for years. Pans are safe to use unless you can see the equivalent area of two ten-pence pieces of copper showing through. Then they need retinning. Chaleureuse offers this service to you, as I am happy to send off pans with my own stock to help reduce your transport costs. If you are London-based, you can drop and pick up pans for retinning with me at any of my London fairs, or at my base in Canterbury. For more information please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All Chaleureuse retinned pans are refurbished by Sherwood Tinning in Dorset, which holds a Royal Warrant (it refurbishes the pans in the kitchens of the British Royal Family). So the pedigree of the work done is second to none, and only pans worthy of the service are retinned.
Very easy is the answer, although they don't go in the dishwasher! Contrary to popular belief there is a much easier way to clean copper than using lemon juice, sea salt and flour, as chefs have done traditionally. While this works, a much quicker way is to use Bar Keeper's Friend, a white powder applied with a soft scourer (the kind with a sponge on one side!) and hot water to the OUTSIDE of the pan only. This product is on sale in most hardware shops, and Chaleureuse will also be stocking it very soon, so you can buy it alongside your copper pans. Soak the insides with hot water and washing-up liquid and clean with a plastic washing-up brush. No scourers on the inside! If you do happen to burn the food, this will be enough to remove it. Of course, always using slightly less heat than you think you need should avoid the problem occurring in the first place. Do clean off any tarnishing that appears on the copper. And don’t panic if your shiny pans take on a rainbow kind of patina when you use them. It cleans off like magic with Bar Keepers’ Friend!
All copper sold by Chaleureuse is sourced individually from Northern France. All of it is tin-lined (apart from zabaglione and preserving pans, which don't need it): some of it is vintage, some nearly new and some antique, but ALL of it is second hand. Please bear this in mind when considering the condition of items. As you will see from the pictures, the stock has been vetted for quality and all of it is ready to cook with. Many of the pieces have been completely refurbished - in fact, some of the shiniest pans are often the oldest! Chaleureuse prides itself on the quality of its items, whether they are more modern top-end professional pans or 19th-century antique pans which have been completely overhauled to work like new ones (while being one-off, hand-made items).
It’s easy - buy from Chaleureuse! Every pan has been personally sourced and checked for quality. All is in perfect condition for culinary use, unless specifically stated “for display purposes” within the Design/Props Supply section. Lots of pans found in France are for display only, but not the ones you find in the Chaleureuse cookshop. Even though they are safe to use, I do not sell copper pans with even the tiniest sign of wear in the tin lining. I know these are perfectly usable - it is only when the equivalent of two 10 pence pieces worth of copper is showing through that a pan needs retinning. Chaleureuse believes everyone should start off with a pan with no visible signs of wear to give the customer confidence in the products it sells. Of course pans that have had some use are likely to need retinning a bit sooner than ones which are as new or already retinned. But if you buy a never-used sauteuse from this site and don't follow the use and care instructions sent to you, that pan is likely to need retinning a lot quicker than one with a blackened lining! Please note, all pans will have the old superficial scuff to both copper and tin, commensurate with the fact they are second-hand. This is in no way affects the function of the article. I only sell pans which I would be happy to pay for and use myself.