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Cooking in Copper

posted on 15.06.2017 17:44 hour

By browsing the internet you will find many rumours about copper, its use and much flawed information about the dangers of this beautiful material...

Rumour has it that fish would die by throwing copper coins into a pond or trees would perish when hammering copper nails into the bark. What we do not need is irresponsible misinformation and scare tactics, especially concerning the hype surrounding the so-called „Verdigris“ - a hot topic heavily discussed in forums on the internet which causes unnecessary panic.


The fact that copper is preferred for cooking a broad variety of delicious meals in almost every kitchen of the „haute-cuisine“ is totally ignored by the wannabe copper „experts“. So why are these rumours so persistent? Further down in this newsletter you will find some answers and I will inform you about the real characteristics of copper from my own experience and research.


   Kai Möller


Here with Destillatio we are experimenting a lot with copper!

And we can assure you the trees in our aroma garden are still alive and doing just fine, even with copper nails hammered into some of them – from 5 years ago.

Of course, we welcome you to visit us in the aroma museum and garden to have a look at the variety of plants and herbs we have planted over the years. Many of them are edible and visitors as well as customers are invited to have little snacks from the garden.

The picture on the right shows our trainees of which only one is still working with us today. Melissa will be happy to assist you regarding questions or with information you may need.

unicobres Lehrlinge



On this picture you can see in detail a copper still that has survived many seasons outside. The copper is not covered with protective varnish and as a result a brown patina has formed over time. When iron comes into contact with copper it forms rust and thus copper has been banned on the outside of ships decades ago. Ships that were located close to other ships with copper attached to them started to rust a lot faster.

So why has copper been used on ships before it was banned?

That’s easy to explain. Copper is antibacterial and is avoided by micro-organisms, moss, snails and shells. This is also the reason why milk or water stays fresh over a longer period of time when stored in copper vessels.

Kupfer wirkt antibakteriell



Copper has fallen into disrepute due to rumous about the „toxic“ Verdigris. But what does Verdigris actually look like?  Green?

First of all, it would be helpful to know that copper will turn green naturally over time – beautifully light-green just like the roof of a church or the ornaments shown in this picture. That’s absolutely normal and not toxic at all. It is the natural protection of copper from environmental influences. Over time the brown patina is formed and on top of that the green patina seals the copper to prevent oxidation.

Verdigris looks different. Its colour is dark green and it comes in a spot-like appearance that spreads unevenly all over the copper. It occurs when copper is exposed to acid. Verdigris, also called copper acetate, is only moderately toxic. When consumed it causes vomiting which is the natural way of our bodies to get rid of it – quickly.

Grünspan oder Patina



1.) Do not store food or liquids in copper!

Copper usually reacts with acids such as sulphuric acid. But if you leave soup or other foods (even in small amounts) in copper cookware which is not tin-lined, the copper could be damaged from the reaction or Verdigris could be formed as a result. After cooking food in copper cookware, transfer it to a serving bowl or any other storage container and store away.

2.) Clean thoroughly and dry quickly!

Copper can also react to oxygen and moisture and water is often more acidic than we assume. After cooking it is recommended to clean copper thoroughly and to dry it quickly. If you leave water drops on copper, black spots could appear on the surface. It’s a tough job to remove them!

3.) Do not heat empty!

Heating copper cookware empty can leave copper brittle or melt the soldering joints. The damage is mostly irreparable and results in unusable cookware. Before heating copper fill the pan or pot with little amounts of oil, water or the foods you would like to cook.

4.) Check the cookware after long storage!

If you have stored copper cookware over a longer period of time without using it, check for green spots (Verdigris). It is easy to remove and the cookware will then be ready for use. Pans and pots made with teflon or stainless steel also need cleaning before cooking with them. Therefore, it is absolutely normal to check copper before using your pans or pots.




Fondue Set


Copper has numerous advantages so we will only mention the most important here:

1.) Copper has by far the best heat conductivity.

2.) Copper is antibacterial and is deadly to micro-organisms as well as fungi

3.) Copper is used for distilling to get rid of sulphur compounds. Stainless steel stills exist in large distilleries to save money, but the inside of the head is outfitted with copper in order to receive the best taste. Without copper the sulphur compounds would leave a bad aftertaste and the product would not sell.

4.) Copper is used for cheese production as it helps with coagulation. And if you cook jam in copper pots, you don't need any gelling agents or jam sugar.

5.) Copper is flexible and easy to work with. Dents can be removed easily and copper can be shaped with little effort.

6.) Copper pots and pans are perfect for gas stoves and over open fire.




I really have to disappoint you here!

Occasionally, some authorities demand tin-lining for copper cookware when used at public events or for restaurants, but despite of intense research and communication with these authorities there has not been a single text, law or official writing that would confirm the harmful characteristics of copper that is so often heard of and heavily discussed in forums on the internet.

Conclusion: Copper is recognised as safe – even by the authorities. In other countries copper cookware is used on a daily basis and cherished for all the positive characteristics!