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Jul 12, 2004 01:30 PM

Copper Jam Pan

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I've gotten into cooking preserves recently and am interested in a copper jam pan -- which is unlined. I thought that I had heard that acidic foods should not be used in unlined copper pans; however, most of my jam recipes include lemon juice. Is this a problem? Will the lemon juice (usually a small amount -- 1/2 to 1 lemon) in jam cause a reaction? Also, if anyone has used a copper jam pan and has any positive or negative comments, I'd appreciate hearing them.

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  1. Calphalon used to import a line of copper from Ireland called Castle Copper. They made a preserves pan but it was lined. It was gorgeous, heavy cookware and unfortunately after Kasperzac (Calphalon's founder) died, Calphalon lost their minds and dropped the line. You might be able to find it on line somewhere.

    1. Under NO circumstances should you use an unlined copper pan to make jam of any sort. Most fruits, even without the lemon juice are slightly acidic.

      You can give yourself copper poisoning this way.

      11 Replies
      1. re: StriperGuy

        Thanks for the information. I just don't understand why all the available copper jam pans I find are, in fact, unlined (Mauviel example at the link below). Does this make any sense to anyone? Is it a risk that others just take?


        1. re: StriperGuy

          I think your warning is a little inaccurate here.

          "Unlike most types of copper cookware, preserve pans are never lined with another metal (such as nickel or tin). The high temperatures used in preserve making would melt or damage such a lining. Unlined copper is safe for making fruit preserves, jams and jellies, but should not be used for pickling." (site below)

          Copper isn't recommended for high-acidic foods like tomatoes because they discoloured and disflavour when exposed to copper ions, and the chemical reaction can cause gastrointestinal problems for people, but I doubt the small amount of lemon juice used in preserves would cause much of this chemical reaction.

          It's highly unlikely that traditional preserve and jelly recipies would be unsuitable for what seems to be the cooking pan preferred for centuries.



          1. re: ab

            I stand corrected... very surprised. I know you use unlined copper for candy for the same reason.

            1. re: ab

              You know, I've been hoping a chemist would respond to this thread. I've been wanting a good preserving pan for some time now, but not sure I want to spend the money on copper and don't know why it is the traditional choice. I also know it isn't traditionally lined with tin, and I've read several times that this is because the high temperatures would melt the tin. But tin melts at 449.47 °F (Nickel melts at 2651 °F). Too hot for a pizza stone maybe, but any jam cooked that hot would be completely blackened. Anyone know what's up with the tin/copper thing? And has anyone ever seen a preserving pan that isn't made of copper (wide, sloping sides)?

              1. re: curiousbaker

                I didn't degree in chemistry - I'm an analyst. Booring stuff, but I get a kick out of the whys. Trivia pursuit, anyone...

                Anyway, I understand the main reason copper is used is because it heats up not only the most evenly, but the fastest of any cooking metal.

                With delicate foods like fruits (and many confections), you want to heat to a high enough temperature to kill any friendlies without cooking the food to tasteless mush. Copper does this very well.

                If you haven't cooked with copper before, do take it for a trial run. You'll be very surprised not only at how quickly it heats, but at how much lower a flame it takes to heat compared to a pan of a different mettle.

                A neat thing they're discovering about copper is that friendlies like e. coli are able to live on it's surface for a scant four hours, whereas stainless steel margined a whopping 32 days. They're not sure exactly why, yet, and mind these were common household pans which had the typical minute scratches and dings that bacteria collect in, but still, it's interesting to know.

                1. re: ab

                  Wow, thanks. I really would love to invest in a copper preserving pan, but the price - zowie! I justify all the money I spend on fruit and jars and things by figuring that canning provides one of the cheapest sources of Christmas presents around. Maybe if I figured 50 cents per jar to cover the cost of the pan -that would be 280 jars of jam, how many Christmases do you think until I've paid it off?

                  By the way, I just made a strawberry jam over the weekend that was fantastic, if I do say so myself. Very small, ripe flavorful local berries, mixed with sugar and lemon juice, then left to sit overnight. Then I brought it all just to a simmer, then let it sit overnight again. Then I brought just the juice to a boil, cooked it to a jelly, added the fruit and a little very good balsamic vinegar and just a tiny bit of black pepper, then boiled for a few minutes. The berries stayed whole, the vinegar and pepper added just a hint of depth and spice to the whole thing. I was really pleased. (Hope no one minds the self-satisfied gushing, but I figure people here understand the excitement that a really successful jam-making session can produce.)

                  Ooh, and has anyone tried Ponoma's Universal Pectin? I don't usually use commercial pectin, but I'm planning a Bing Cherry/Red Wine jam, and I think I'll need some added pectin for it to gel (and I don't have the time to do the apple route this time through). Does the Ponoma produce a less gummy jam than the Certo does?

                  1. re: curiousbaker

                    Why don't you check out some antique shops for such a pan. You might get one at a good price. Also, I'll bet they were better made years ago.

                    1. re: curiousbaker

                      I have one. As AB said, it heats so quickly and evenly, that the fruit cooks before it has a chance to get that "cooked " taste so the jams, jellies, and preserves taste so close to fresh fruit that it's worth having the special pan.

                      I use the same method for "amortizing" costs of things - spread out over years of use, good things pay for themselves many times over rather than replacing mediocre quality or having to upgrade when you're not happy.
                      My pan gets "repurposed" often.
                      With a heavy towel under it, it makes a great cooler for parties. Ices down beer, water, soft drinks, or a few bottles of wine.
                      It's looks great with a huge pile of apples in the Fall, citrus at Christmas, or pine cones in front of the fireplace.

                      Go ahead and treat yourself. You've been a good girl and the economy the needs the stimulus!

                      1. re: MakingSense

                        I have a gigantic one - well, about half washtub size - that was a gift from Papa-in-law. I have yet to use it for its original purpose, but it gets an occasional workout thawing a large frozen fish under water, soaking things that I'd soak in the sink IF it held water (!!), and holding my other oversized copper treasure, an omelet-beating pan from Mont Saint-Michel that I found in Carpinteria for fifty bucks (!!!!). I don't know why I haven't used it for a party cooler yet, but now you've mentioned it I certainly will. Thanks.

                      2. re: curiousbaker

                        Don't forget Ebay as a potential source...

                        1. re: curiousbaker

                          To curiousbaker:
                          No need for pectin with bing cherry jam. I used to use it and it always turned out too stiff. This year's was a revelation, the best ever.
                          This guy has the goods:

                2. Why not write the company and ask?

                  1. The original comment has been removed
                    1. I've used one of those large, unlined copper pans to make preserves, and it works great, much better than the stainless steel pot I had been using. Jam making benefits from fast cooking, and nothing heats up quickly and evenly like copper. I've had it for years but I know they've since gotten fairly expensive (as has anything made of copper.) But if you do a lot of jam making, I think they're worth it.

                      I also really like tin-lined copper cookware for regular stove top cooking.