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Feb 2, 2011 09:31 AM

Mauviel Copper tin-lined roasting pan?? Not sure of how to use??

I am hoping someone can answer a few questions.
#1 What are typical foods that will alter the color of the tin? Is red wine an issue? I know vinegar, tomato and lemon juice are a problem. If red wine is a problem, should I line the interior with tin foil?

#2 When cooking a standing rib roast, my recipe calls for a high temp of 450 for 15 minutes and then dropping the temp to 350. Is this something I shouldn't do with this pan? If I don't do this should I still raise the temp to maybe 400 for 15 minutes?

#3 Is it not advised to use a rack with a tin interior? I am just worried about hurting the lining.

#4 When cooking a Turkey or Rib Roast should I use convection bake or regualr bake?

#5 On the Mauviel site they say the pan is 2mm to 3.5 mm copper thickness. So what is the copper thickness?? This is the M'Tradition series with brass handles. Anyone know?

#6 Does anyone know if the liquid Bar Keepers Friend is alright for the interior of tin lined copper pans?

Thanks so much.

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  1. Coppergirl: I'll reply to 1-5 later today, but for now, re: #6: DO NOT USE BKF or any abrasive on the tin lining.

    1. OK, have more time now...

      #1: Most foods will alter the appearance from shiny-new. As will heat and oxygen, eventually. Acidic foods will do it fastest. X-nay on the foil--it's aluminum, not tin, and will react with acidic foods (one of the reasons they line copper with tin is to prevent this). If your roaster is to be used for cooking rather than solely for decor, then you should just let the pan age gracefully. Ultimately it will get dark grey to almost black. This is normal. If black bothers you, you can boil a little baking soda in it to lighten it up some, but it will always be a matte grey

      #2: Your hardest question. Tin melts at around 437F, so conventional wisdom is that you stay below 425 or 400. The longer I cook in--and read about--copper, the more I suspect that this common wisdom is a little off, or that it needs a qualification. What the conventional wisdom misses is that you have a mass of food roasting in the pan, i.e., soaking up heat until done. My theory is that, much as full pan on the stovetop or oven cannot go much above 212F under normal cooking conditions, so a roaster's temperature will be moderated by the food in the pan. I came to this theory indirectly (I have never gone above 425 myself for fear of bankruptcy), because in all my handling and viewing of these roasters, and in all of my reading, I have NEVER come across a roasting pan whose tin was melted or puddled. If the tin lining of a full pan melted at an oven temperature of 450F when its contents were still under 185F, I think that such ruination would be mentioned commonly, prominently and profanely. But it's not, and these pans have been in service now for a couple of hundred years. When I get an IR thermometer gun, I will test this theory. But my HO is that 450 for 15 minutes with a large roast will do your pan no harm.

      #3: You should not use any rack that will scratch the tin lining. Silicone-coated metal is fine. The classic method is to perch the roast on aromatics--usually veggies. If you're after drippings, a slotted wooden trivet or bamboo steamer works well. If you must dry-roast, you can spit the roast and lay the spit acrosss the pan, but then I'd stay below 425F. Also, if you are going to want the fond, beware metal utensils. Deglaze with wine and just work it loose with a wooden or plastic utensil.

      #4: I don't know, my only convection oven is too small for those joints. I can't imagine it would matter in a way other than cooking time. What's your recipe call for?

      #5: It depends on your pan. It should be the same thickness at the rim as the bottom, so measure the wall. If you wish to double-check, lay a straightedge across the pan, and then measure the height to the straightedge from the bottom of the pan AND from your counter. The difference is your thickness.

      Again, #6: Don't do it. Soap, water and a soft brush. No DW, either.

      Hope this helps.

      20 Replies
      1. re: kaleokahu

        Thank you so much Kaleokahu. Your expertise is extremely appreciated.

        1. re: coppergirl

          coppergirl: You're very welcome. Many years of good cooking in your roaster.

        2. re: kaleokahu

          Could I ask how you arrived at your theory that a full pan, etc., can't go much above 212º F, i.e., why you chose that temperature?

          1. re: MacGuffin

            I'm going to guess it's because water boils at 212°F, and unless it's under pressure, the water can't actually get above that temperature. SInce the contents is continually drawing the heat out of the pot or pan, it's not as hot as it would be if it were empty. The question then becomes what is the temperature differential between the outside and the inside of the pot or pan?

            1. re: mikie

              Yes, but that's water. Different foods boil at different temperatures, e.g., it's pretty obvious that the tomato sauce on your range starts making a mess long before it hits anything approaching the boiling point of water and I'm going to guess that kaleokahu has never made candy (hard crack is 300º - 310º F). Take a look at a kitchen thermometer--it peaks at much higher temps than 212º F. Different fats have different smoke points, most of them a lot higher than 212º F and there's at least some likelihood that a roasting pan is going to at some point contain very hot fat, probably a higher one than that the pan is going to contain nothing but water or something that just happens to also have the exact same boiling point. My point is that this theory has no science behind it.

              1. re: MacGuffin

                Again, I'm just going to guess, but I'll bet tomato sauce is mostly water and that the boiling point isn't that much different. I don't disagree that for candy making, and my wife does a lot of this, the temperature of contents is considerably higher than a pot of water, but I'd also guess that's beyond the scope of kaleokahu's origional post where the reference is to "normal cooking conditions", and I doubt many would consider candy making normal cooking. I agree and I don't believe it was presented as a scientific evidence backed experiment, just a theory based on personal observation. But kaleokahu is certianly capable of explaining all of this and the basis of the theory. I'm just guessing.

                1. re: mikie

                  You make candy on a range, in a pot, and you heat it--to me, that's normal. And my golden oldie candy thermometer peaks at 400º F--not high enough to melt tin but a lot higher than the boiling point of water. And what about deep-frying in a pot rather than an electric deep fryer? That might not be usual these days but it's certainly normal and I'd think the results would be pretty repulsive if fried at a modest 212º F.
                  And for that matter, a large amount of salt water is water--it has a higher boiling point than water, which is one reason why you wait to add salt. "Mostly water" is NOT the same thing as water (e.g. pure water is a lousy conductor of electricity; impurities improve conductivity). And fats are often heated (alone) to high temperatures, in roasting pans, for the purpose of braising meats prior to actually roasting them. Granted, you don't want to do this at temperatures high enough to melt tin if that's what you're using but they're almost certainly going to be higher than 212º F. That would qualify as "normal cooking conditions," too, I think.
                  Keleokahu's theory, which could likely end up repeated as fact 'til the cows come home because it appears online, just doesn't hold water--my point is that there's plenty of "normal" range-top cookery that exceeds the boiling point of water.

                  1. re: MacGuffin

                    Hi, MacGuffin: It was an *analogy*, OK? All I was analogizing to was water in a pan, not candy or oil. But if we use those, we just bump up the number from 212F. The point is the same. The tip of the gas flame might be 3500F, but the ingredients in the pan (and the tin lining) atop it are going to be the upper limit temperature of the liquid contents.

                    Unless you've used tinned copper, you really won't have an idea of its advantages and shortcomings. I have only needed to retin one piece, and that was a turn-of-the-(previous) Century piece that had come to me with copper showing through.

                    1. re: MacGuffin

                      First, it's normal to make candy on a range in a pot, but that doesn't mean it's something that falls into the catagory of normal cooking that you do every day and totally takes the discussion out of context, neither the origional poster or kaleokahu were refering to candy making or your next component of contention deep frying. Which again, I will grant you can be normally done on a range in a pot or an electric fryer. These are totally out of context to the origional posts which were relatively specific.

                      Secondly, there are any number of things that have a boiling point higher than water, but most of the range of things are not part of the cooking process. Sulfuric Acid has a boiling point of 590°F, but you don't cook with it, well I don't anyway. And yes salt water has a different boiling point than regular water, but saturated brine, and you won't likely cook in that, still only has a boiling point of 226°F, just 14°F above that of water. Making reference to the electrical conductivity of pure water and salt water is once again irrelevent to the discussion and out of context. Electrical conductivity has virtually nothing to do with boiling points of liquids. I assume you are aware you can also boil water at room temperature, irrelevent I know, but you can and that's as relevent as electrical conductivity. Just for the record a tomato is about 95% water, the remainder pulp which will not dramaticly change the boiling poit.

                      You asked the question where did 212°F come from and I think that has been answered.

                  2. re: MacGuffin

                    [If I can speak for kaleokahu]

                    The point is this:
                    Regardless of whether you are roasting
                    - beef
                    - Lamb covered in Tomatoes
                    - Fatty Pork
                    - Vegetables basting in Olive Oil
                    - etc.

                    A large amount of the "stuff" that drips to the tin lining of the roasting pan will be water (whether this is from the Beef Juices, Pork and Pork Fat, the liquid in the Tomatoes (or Tomato Sauce), the moisture in the Veg, etc).

                    So, even if a good amount of fat, say from the Pork, also drips onto the lining, it will be accompanied by a good deal of water (i.e. juices). So, yeah, the temp can definitely go above 212, but, with the amount of liquid that is also likely to be there, it is not likely to go higher than, say, 437.

                    Therefore, anyone doing routine toasting in a tin lined pan probably has little to worry about.

                2. re: MacGuffin

                  Hi, MacGuffin: Mikie & Doug have done a good job of answering you, but let me add and explain a little.

                  I was merely *analogizing* the roasting pan situation (with a big joint of meat nestled in the bottom) with a panful of water on the stove. We know the latter really can't get much hotter than 212--at least the water and the tin interface. Sure, candy can go higher, oils higher still, but the point remains the same: the liquid contents limit the upper temperature reached. I'm no deep-fryer guru, but I never get my oils above 425F, even though there are some whose smoke points go up to around 500F.

                  Returning to the roaster, my theory is that since the food will absorb heat from the air and that adsorption will take time (that's really all that happens with oven roasting), the food will act as a heat sink that will *delay* the pan coming to the set temperature. Let me also say that my theory depends on having some food in actual contact with the pan (hence my warning about not spitting and suspending); I would not test my tinned copper--for very long--at 450 with the joint on a rack. Also bear in mind that the OP asked if the first *15 minutes* at 450 would be OK.

                  Doug raises a very interesting point about liquid, though. That is, some added juice (or stock, wine, etc.) will also moderate the heat and protect the pan. This might be problematic for culinary reasons, but at least until the liquid evaporates, it would keep the copper pan from exceeding much beyond 212.

                  Copper is so amazingly conductive that I think there will be only a small temperature gradient between the rim of the roaster and under the food. I learned this the hard way with an ancient copper doufeu on the stovetop. I did a braise and kept ice in the lid to test "raining inside the pan" claims. The unlucky result was that the braise took several hours longer than it should have (and frankly should have taken more... Dinner at midnight?)

                  Finally, let me sheepishly admit that, last week I boiled a prized tinned copper skillet completely dry over a high gas hob. I do not know exactly how long it sat dry, but it was long enough that I smelled the hot metal from across the house. There were mineral residues, the tin was nearly black, and the copper exterior annealed to the color of brass.
                  I admit this to make the point that I KNOW the bottom of the pan got >437, but there was no bubbling or puddling, or runnels of tin to be seen. After a few boils in baking soda and some 0000 steel wool on the exterior, the only apparent damage is that the lining is a shade or two darker grey. I have no firm explanation for the lining's survival--it may be that the edges and rim of the large skillet were heat sinks unto themselves. But one of my (minor) lessons here is that these tin linings are not quite as delicate as people tend to fear.

                  I'm not taking the bait on "no science behind it." I'm an empiricist is all I'll say.

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    Oh, geez--you have my profoundest sympathy on the incineration of your pan. I get very attached to my possessions, especially those that reside in my kitchen. :( Will you replace with a similar skillet lined with stainless steel?
                    I have a science background and am an editor/proofreader of technical material and as such, am very concise in general and about technical matters in particular, hence my jumping on your 212º F/"under normal cooking conditions." No offense was intended (and you don't seem to have taken any, for which I'm appreciative). I'm more of a rationalist myself but I like to back it up with a healthy serving of empiricism.
                    BTW, you make mention of "hob"; are you in the UK?

                    1. re: MacGuffin

                      MacGuffin: Thank you for your kind sympathy, but your proofreading let you down a bit; the pan is fine and back in service. Were it to be "incinerated", I would just have it retinned, as folks have been doing for hundreds of years.

                      Nope, not in UK, but I lived in Maidenhead once. I just adopted the convention of using 'hob' instead of 'burner' or 'element'.

                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        Indeed, and I stand corrected although I'd probably have had it re-tinned under the circumstances (I'm just that kind of person).

                3. re: kaleokahu

                  "Acidic foods will do it fastest"

                  Say it isn't so! LOL

                  1. re: TraderJoe

                    Hi, TJ:

                    You're a better searcher than a reader. At the risk of verbosity, the in-context quote was:

                    "Most foods will alter the appearance from shiny-new. As will heat and oxygen, eventually. Acidic foods will do it fastest." The referent 'it' being to the verb phrase 'alter the appearance from shiny new'.

                    If you think that a tin lining is poisonous, shot or needing a re-do whenever the new appearance is gone, that would explain a lot. Hopefully your favored retinner got all his kids through college before you decided tin linings are toxic, and can't stand up to wine, tomatoes, etc.


                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      Acidic foods discolor the tin faster because acidic foods wear tin faster than other foods. Hence the warning from responsible companies like Mauviel and WS about cooking with acidic foods in their tin lined copper ware.

                      As you so succinctly stated acidic foods will alter the finish the fastest.

                      Tin poisonous? Oh my! I hope not, however I know some have switched from tin foil hats to aluminum (although neither is probably very good for cooking acidic foods in a pinch). Could it be an irrational fear of tin and will my re-re-tinner loose business if every one switches to foil hats? Is it just a bit of self promotion for some one with a vested interest in tin? One ponders the possibilites...

                      (They were probably from Berkeley like Chef Waxman)


                      1. re: TraderJoe

                        Hi, TJ:

                        If marginally faster discoloration rates = wear = "wrong tool", you should also avoid cooking outside a vacuum chamber and avoid cooking sulphurous foods like onions, eggyolks, lobster, garlic, cauliflower, red meats, etc. in your rondeau. Or cooking any foods containing nitrates.

                        How much tin "wears" from cooking tomatoes in a tin-lined pan? We can make a decent prediction using the data from analyses of tinned foods. A consensus figure for tomatoes stored *long-term* in an uncoated tin-lined steel can is 100 µg/g. A 14-oz (400g) can of tomatoes therefore might--over its *lifetime* of canning and storage--"wear away" 40 milligrams (0.04 grams) of tin. But let's double that, say it's 0.08 grams.

                        If we posit that the tomatoes sit on the shelf for 4 months to get to that tin level, and then simmer 400g of fresh tomatoes in a tinned pan for 4 hours (0.001% of the time spent in the can), then we can have some confidence that we'll get something like 0.00008 grams acidic "wear" on the simmer pot's lining.

                        Now then, if you're simmering the gravy in a 10" bottom to a depth of two inches, that'd be 137 sq. inches or about 0.09 sq. meter surface area which would be "wearing" away under that tremendously aggressive (pH 4) acidic onslaught.

                        A good, wiped tin job should start out .3-.4 mm thick. But say it's a cheap job of about 0.2 mm In that size/area of bottom, therefore there should be as much as 150 grams of tin. "Wearing" it away at 0.0008g per batch, that's about a 180,000 batches of sauce before the tin is gone to bare copper. Or say it's a super crappy 30-micron plating job or there's a thin spot--that's >23,000 batches of sauce.

                        Now, you can fiddle with the numbers to adjust for temperature, contact area, stirring, finding a can of Amundson's stewed tomatoes, etc., but the "wearing" effect from acid *alone* is insignificant for the length of time food is being cooked in the pan.

                        All this emphasis on the reactivity of tin is misplaced. Of the metallic elements, tin is next-to-last in terms of reacting to non-oxidizing acids, with less reactivity than iron, nickel, and chromium. And because tin is so low in the series, any galvanic corrosion will sacrifice tin and spare copper, whereas in a bi-metal pan copper will be sacrificed under 300-series stainless.

                        What I think *is* significant is the added roles of salt, utensil abrasion and cleaning. IMO, that is the reason Mauviel prefaces it's caution with "Depending on use..."


                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          "We can make a decent prediction using the data from analyses of tinned foods."

                          Actually we can't. From the linked article with 40 year old data;
                          "Higher concentrations (of tin) are found in canned foods as a result of dissolution of the tin coating or tin plate. The concentration of tin in canned foods depends on a number of factors, including the type and acidity of the food, time and temperature of storage"

                          Fact; Acid eats away at tin.
                          There's really no way to make an accurate analysis with your data because of the infinite variables. Look at all the cases of Tin poisoning at the bottom of your article. You nay notice that in some cases less than 150ppm caused illness.
                          You can spin numbers all day long but the fact remains that acidic foods eat away at tin and can contaminate food to an unhealthy level.
                          Will I loose sleep cooking with tin lined copper? Not today, but I don't cook acidic food in tin just as responsible companies like Mauviel suggest. I'm also not in the habit of damaging my very expensive cook ware so some one else can profit from it.
                          I just grab a SS lined copper pot for acidic foods. It's really just that simple. ;)

                          1. re: TraderJoe

                            Hi, TJ:

                            I get it. Because there are several factors at work, we shouldn't even try to assess the degree to which tin "wears" under the terrible onslaught of wine and tomatoes, even if we have very accurate data about how much tin gets into foods canned in tin.

                            Because to do so might show that you could cook tomato sauce every day in a person's actuarial life and still not "wear" out a 0.3 mm layer of tin--unless you scrape it. Let alone get enough tin in you to upset your tummy.

                            I find it bizarre in the extreme that you SAY you only cook foods with a pH over 7 in your tinned copper. What foods would those be? Of the thousands of foodstuffs on USDA's pH list, there are laughably few that are not acidic (Graham crackers, peptonized milk, and wax gourd drink stand out and nearly alone).

                            If you actually followed all the cautions and warnings and dangers you have espoused in this thread and others, you would never actually cook in your tinned copperware.

                            But you *are* inspiring. I'm going to fix up a 100g slug of tin and get some mondo cans of tomato sauce and bring out my pharmacist's scale. I think immersing and simmering and adding sauce for a month with the slug ought to be long enough, don't you? I'll weigh, and we'll see how much tin is "worn" away. Think we'll get to a gram? 1/10th? 1/100th? The 6.3mg/day the US government recognizes as safe?


                4. kaleokahu is absolutely right about avoiding things that will scratch the tin, if you want to make a pan sauce or gravy with drippings there is a thing that looks like a miniature birch broom and it is unparalleled for this task on tin. They do not last long(they are tied with string and tend to unbundle).

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