how to clean copper pans

Illustration: Florie Duhau

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Copper Pans

Before the Second World War, the most visible indication of the batterie de cuisine of a large kitchen was a gleaming array of copper pans. Copper is ideal for cooking because of its high conductivity of heat – but it is a chore to clean. It will scratch and tarnish if scoured too roughly in too much sloshing water. For kitchen-maids, silvers and (a very fine silica sand now chiefly used as topsoil in gardening) was a common ingredient for cleaning copper, mixed with malt vinegar or lemon and then rubbed into the pan. Edna Wheway cleaned -fifty copper pans a week with green carbolic soap. She followed this with a paste of whitening powder (a fine chalk powder) mixed with vegetable oil and then rubbed in with a cloth, rinsed off and dried thoroughly. Lemons make an easy and effective copper cleaner: just take the shells of squeezed lemons and dip them in cooking salt. Then gently scrub the copper saucepan with them, rinse and dry well, and polish to a shine.