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Jan 16, 2008 08:27 AM

Metal whisk in a copper bowl?

I am trying to always expand my culinary experiences (as we all are, I assume), and this time I've chosen the mighty, the daunting, the tamer of culinary egos everywhere, the *gasp* Soufflé!!!

Ok -- now for the question. Of course, you're "suppose" to use a copper bowl when whipping egg-whites. The only copper bowls I have seen locally (made by a company called Metalaz...) say in the instructions "do NOT use metal utensils...". That's odd, I thought; how am I suppose to beat my egg-whites to soft peaks if not with a metal whisk? I don't think there is any chance of an adverse reaction with a stainless-steel whisk, so what gives? If it matters, this is one of those bowls that, if desired, could be left with the lacquer it shipped with on, thus stay pretty forever hanging uselessly on a wall -- could these be constructed differently than others designed for actual kitchen service? Thanks for any and all opinions.


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  1. On an Emeril episode, Jacques Pepin beat egg whites in a glass bowl in about a minute.

    If I recall correctly, it is unlined copper that is supposed to be great for beating egg whites, while a lining (tin or stainless steel) is required for cooking. A thin coating, especially tin, could be damaged by metal whisks. Copper intended for decorative purposes may have a transparent coating to prevent tarnishing, which could also be damaged.

    But I don't have any experience with copper. I am happy with the whipping speed of my electric mixer (Braun Multi, and Cuisinart Smart Stick).


    1. What do they expect you to beat them with? That's silly!
      I have a beautiful copper bowl that I used for egg whites - with a wire balloon whisk - when I was in my I'm-so-perfect stage. It has millions of tiny scratches that actually look pretty inside. Never bothered me. The outside is lovely from years of use.
      After a few years of kids and dogs and other more pressing things, I got real and started using my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. To tell the truth, I don't notice an appreciable difference in the volume of the egg whites. If there is one, the hell with it. I'm not perfect and I no longer care. The bowl gets used for other things though and I still love it, tiny scratches and all. My kids can fight over it when I'm gone.

      1. You probably should just forget that bowl and find a normal copper mixing bowl, and then use whatever you want to beat the egg whites. In fact, you are supposed (with a "d") to use a normal metal wisk to beat egg whites in a copper bowl.

        3 Replies
        1. re: johnb

          Well, for all intents and purposes, this bowl is a "normal" mixing bowl -- there was just that little caveat about the supposed (adj.) metal whisk issue I didn't quite understand. If it is solid copper, as it claims to be, then the consensus is there should not be any problem with using a normal whisk. Thanks for the replies!

          1. re: mateo21

            I suspect that with the lacquer you will not get any 'copper' enhancement when beating egg whites. Your eggs will be in contact with the lacquer, not the copper. You might as well use a stainless steel bowl.

            An alternative is to see if you can remove the lacquer, besides scratching it off with the whisk!


            1. re: paulj

              Removing lacquer is a pain but, thank God, you only have to do it once.
              Here's how:

        2. A copper bowl is convenient for beating egg whites but it's not essential. Any bowl (other than plastic) will work if you add a pinch ot tartaric acid (cream of tartar) to help stabilize the egg whites. That's all the copper does.

          1. Why hasn't someone just manufactured a copper whisk especially for egg whites so we can forgo the copper bowl altogether? Granted, copper's a rather soft metal but it's certainly sturdy enough to handle egg whites.

            13 Replies
            1. re: MacGuffin

              but not being bashed into the side of the bowl while whisking, or tossed in the sink to wash, or in the drawer to store . . . . LOL!

              1. re: ZenSojourner

                Gee, I must be doing something wrong...I somehow manage to engage in bash-free, toss-free whisking and store the whisk upright with my wooden spoons and such.

                1. re: MacGuffin

                  You must be more careful than most people, if you NEVER drop anything or accidentally knock it against something, etc etc etc. Especially with something as delicate as a copper whisk would be.

                  Most folks do not store their utensils upright in containers, taking up counter space. Especially not those of us who have cats. O.o with whiskers, LOL!

                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                    In general, I try to treat non-sturdy things in an appropriate manner (i have my share of mishaps) but I've just never found whisking to be an especially rough activity. I can't speak for "most," but having more counter space than drawers (and shallow ones at that), I have to utilize what's available, in spite of the four (bewhiskered) cats in residence. Fortunately, they're interested in food, not utensils.

                    1. re: MacGuffin

                      I'm sorry, I guess I was trying to be sort of too jokey.

                      Seriously, I'm a silversmith (well technically I'm a goldsmith but I never work with gold, can't afford it, heck I can't really afford silver lately). I don't think you realize how delicate a whisk made of copper would be, nor how hard it would be to keep it from developing that green coating that we call a "patina" on a piece of artwork, but which would not be pleasant to have on something you're going to be whipping around in food you plan to eat. The stuff can and does flake off, and I think a meringue with green flecks in it would not look too appetizing.

                      Also, to make the whisk anywhere near sturdy enough to stand up to normal handling, you would have to use a fairly heavy gauge of copper wire. Since every wire whisk I have ever seen is made from a fairly fine gauge of wire, my guess is that going to a heavier gauge is likely to have a negative effect on the efficiency of the whisk. I know it will have a negative effect on usability, making it heavier and harder to use. I don't know how old you are, but I'm getting to the age where I realize what a difference an ounce or two can make.

                      In short, whisks are not made from copper because it simply isn't practical or practicable. A copper whisk just wouldn't be all that useful.

                      1. re: ZenSojourner

                        No kidding! I'm actually a Graduate Gemologist, so I have some idea of the properties of metals used in jewelry manufacturing (including various alloys). Copper's a favorite because I have a particular fondness for pink gold. :)
                        Doesn't patina clean off with copper cleaner? You'd run into the same problem with (unlined) copper pots and bowls, no?
                        55, BTW.

                        1. re: MacGuffin

                          No. Because copper pans and bowls don't have weird little nooks and crannies where the stuff can build up. Pretty easy to polish off, and then clean off the residue of your polishing stuff. It's a different story when you start talking about trying to polish copper wire!

                          Heck I've had wire whisks I threw out rather than try to clean up the rust. Cheap ones, admittedly, but at least they gave me some experience with oxidation in nooks and crannies and places where it's hard to get at.

                          If you want a copper whisk I'd say go ahead and make one for yourself, but personally I don't want to spend a lot of time trying to keep the thing polished up, plus the added weight from having to use the heavier duty wire.

                1. re: ThreeGigs

                  You can tell even in that picture how much heavier gauge the wire is than a typical whisk.

                  So somebody buy it (a bit pricy at $38 though don't you think?) and let us know what you think.

                  1. re: ThreeGigs

                    Those are some good-looking utensils.

                  2. re: MacGuffin

                    I have that copper whisk. I received it as a gift and I was thrilled - but I've never used it! I always seem to end up going back to my stand mixer. But I have been inspired by this thread - I will try it this week and report back.

                      1. re: MacGuffin

                        Well, as I wrote in my post, I haven't actually used it yet. It's beautiful, and I love it for the piece of hand-made Americana it represents, but I can't offer an opinion as to it's effectiveness yet.