How to Clean Copper Pans?
I acquired several pans while living in Germany 30+ years ago. Most were never used, and I thought they were all lost when I moved. Today I found them in a long forgotten box. Hurray! I am now a better cook, and am eager to use these treasures.
Some pans have no marks, some are Portugese. I think some were French products, but I see no mark. Most are not terribly heavy. Some have rolled sides and some do not. I have several questions.
1) I recall when they were new some came with instructions on how to remove lacquer coating in boiling water (?) before use. But on at least one pan, the coating apparently did not completely come off before I used it in 1978, it and the heat from the stove made a messy pattern where the lacquer stuck to the copper. If I now want to ensure there is no lacquer on the other unused pans, how do I do this?
2) Several of the pans have a blackened or dark gray appearance to the inside of the pans. Since they have not been used, will this discoloration clean off? Or are the pans usable as they are? How should I try to clean the insides of these pans?
(Other pans have shiny silver colored insides. Would tin discolor badly when not used?)
3) Some molds are dark brown color. Others are still shiny bright. Packed in same box, in same wrapping. Should I assume the shiny ones are lacquered?
4) How should I try to clean copper pans for normal maintenance? I use Twinkle Copper Cleaner for copper bottomed pans which I now use regularly. Is there a better cleaning technique/product for my newfound real copper pans?
Thanks for any advice.
(1) Wipe down all surfaces with acetone to remove lacquer. The burnt-on lacquer will require more abrasive measures. Start with 0000 steel wool and carefully work your way coarser until it cleans up, then work your way back down or have a metal shop buff out the pan.
(2) Unless you see green verdigris, the pans are fine to cook in as-is. If the interiors look chalky, I'd give them a *very* light pass with Bon Ami, but stop when your scrubber starts showning grey.
(3) Yes, that's a good assumption.
(4) Twinkle is fine. There are many products out there. My favorite now is Flitz metal polish--it gets the pan so polished that water beads on the copper afterward, and you can go longer between cleaning/polishing Unlike the chemical polishers like Twinkle and Red Bear, Flitz actually slows the re-oxidation of the copper. I think most powders accelerate it.
Enjoy those pans.