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Dec 10, 2007 08:50 AM

Did I Ruin My Copper Mixing Bowl?

I have a copper mixing bowl that my mom brought me from France several years ago. I took it out of the box and found some greasy tarnish marks. Several articles I found on the Internet recommended using a paste of vinegar and kosher salt to clean the tarnish. This mixture did get rid of most of the tarnish but now the bowl is lined with multi-colored streaks. Since then, I've read a Chowhound thread warning about how using too much acid in a copper bowl can cause harmful amounts of copper to leach out. Have I now ruined my bowl? Is there a cure for the streaks?

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  1. Nah! In Cooking school we used a half lemon and a pinch of salt before each use of our copper bowls- kept the meringues from being an unusual green color. I would not worry.

    1. The warnings are about acid foods. Copper is toxic and can leach into foods high in acid. I trust you are not preparing any such recipes in the bowl. They are commonly used for beating eggs and preparing egg dishes.

      1. 1) your bowl is just fine
        2) the streaks might be permanent
        Just go ahead and use your copper bowl for whatever, and it will perform perfectly and will not poison you. Now, if you are one of those fastidious types and insist on a perfectly reddish, shiny color, just go to the hardware store and buy some copper cleaner. 'Red Bear' is one that cookware stores usually sell for customers who buy their copper pots; I use it, and it requires a little elbow grease, but it does come clean. On the other hand, my copper bowl has a lot of dark brown streaks, but it works perfectly so I have not taken the effort to try to totally clean the inside of the bowl. Cook's Illustrated discovered that you can also cover it with a layer of ketchup for a few minutes.