June 10, 2015
Copper cookware on a wall

Every Austin culinary arts student needs to have the right cookware to get the job done. The quality of the cookware can have an effect on the finished dish. While it is always a good idea to get the highest quality cookware available, it isn’t always affordable – especially for students. Students taking Austin culinary arts courses often purchase cookware for their homes. While copper cookware tends to be at the top of many culinary students’ wish lists, it might be a purchase that should be put off until after graduation when they’ll be pulling in a bigger paycheck.

Heat conductivity and why it’s important
Different metals conduct heat in different ways. If the dish is to come out evenly cooked, it’s important that the pan be able to conduct heat evenly. While most materials such as steel, aluminum and cast iron do an OK job of distributing heat across the surface of the pan or pot, the best metal for even heat distribution is copper. Of those options, cast iron is the least efficient when it comes to heat distribution.

The cost of copper
Copper cookware is very expensive. Single pots generally cost a minimum of $100, and the price of sets of copper cookware can easily be in the thousands. While copper pots and pans are extremely expensive, and most likely out of the price range of an Austin culinary arts student, they last much longer than other pots and pans if cared for properly.

Copper cookware linings
As good as copper cookware is, it can leach copper into the food, and too much copper is toxic. To combat the fears associated with copper absorption, copper pots and pans are often made with either a stainless steel liner or a tin liner. The liner is a very thin layer of metal between the copper and the food being cooked. This allows for the heat conductivity advantages of copper without the potential toxicity of the copper.

Is it worth the money?
Saying whether copper cookware is worth it depends on three things: Is the money available? Will the cookware be well taken care of? Do the dishes require high-quality cookware? Because Austin culinary arts students are often cooking complex dishes in class and outside of class, buying copper cookware might be a good idea, but they should be sure to answer these questions before fully committing.