I am often asked what is the best thickness of copper to cook with 1mm, 2mm, 3mm or more?
The truth is that there is no easy answer.
1mm pans, especially the sets of five are ideal for domestic culinary use, boiling vegetables, re-heating sauces, tins of beans, stewing apples, making soups any thing that you do on a daily basis in a modern kitchen. 1mm lined copper pans are ideal for this.
A good frying flipping pan can be 1mm, food is moved around regularly and the high sides enable easy utensil free sauteing. It is extremely reactive to the heat and is ideal for quick cook dishes.
Be aware though - unlined pans are for display only and are usually less than 1mm thick - I have seen them described as patisserie pans (as they are pure unlined copper) but they are not designed for very high temperatures that are required to make jams, jellies or any sort of sugar craft. They can buckle and not be fit for purpose very quickly! If you want a good pattisserie pan go for a proper sugar pan or a good jam pan.
Anything over 1mm going onto 1.5mm is great for a busy family kitchen that has heat under them for a prolonged amount of time. The thicker the copper the more even the distribution of heat.
Copper is one of the metals most reactive to heat, should you remove the heat source the heat will dissipate rapidly, so it is easy to stop a pan of milk boiling over!
1.5 -2mm thick copper can be easily used in any domestic and commercial restaurant setting, they can be used for sauteing and frying and dont mind prolonged use on a daily basis - always use soft utensils, wood or nylon for instance - you will maximise the length of time between retinning. Good 1.5- 2mm pans look good and feel like quality!
2mm is bordering on hotel quality use, these pans have the thickness to distibute heat evenly and will 'sing all day'. They will 'take a pasting' in the most pressurised environments and will last a lifetime. Any Fry, Saute, Fish Kettle, Sugar, Casserole, Saucepan, Milk Pan or any Copper Pan with any interior that is 2mm or over is suitable for any type of cooking.
If you like pans that have a real story to tell then go for 3mm plus pans. These are the pinnacle of copper cooking and are totally commercial kitchen proof, dont expect to move them though, not easily anyway - they are usually big heavy beasts and are suitable for stoves that are used to mass catering.
If you are lucky enough to find some of the old Dehillerin or Gaillard retailed pans of 3-4mm, or a great set of 3mm graduated pans, guard them and look after them - your Great Grand Children will thank you for it!