When buying copper pans it is essential to have the correct lining for the cooking task you wish to undertake. For instance, a good plain copper pan should be used for all jam, jelly, chocolate or beer making and a lined pan for all other cooking.

Put simply, if you want the best heat conductivity then go for a tin lining, if you want good longevity in your linings then go for stainless steel or nickel lining.*

A lot of new linings these days are non-stick but a good old tin lining can be as non-stick as Teflon! New tin linings need to be 'bedded in' use for a period of time on a even low heat - be aware that high heat and dry frying will cause bubbling and tin flow. If you do go for new tin make sure it is even and well spread. Use of sharp or grating implements can cause losses too. It is a good idea to use wooden or copper utensils when cooking with copper. 

Tin linings can be very labour intensive and very expensive to maintain if you are not careful - if you are careful they can last a lifetime. (Mine have and very dark too).

A good rule is if you have a pan that should have a good coating of tin and has copper showing through it needs retinning but don't worry too much about any copper that doesn't come into prolonged contact with food - lids and utensils for instance.

Newly Tinned Copper Pan by Atelier du Cuivre, Villedieu les Poeles

When pans are retinned they need to be done by a professional 'Etameur' for good even spread and guaranteed and certified 99% pure tin linings. 

Amateur tinning can make a good pan difficult to use as the lumpiness interferes with stirring and heat distribution.  

The tin used needs to be in it's purest form and not in a tin paste, pastes can be used for soldering but not culinary uses! Always ask who replaced the tin on a newly tinned pan, if it is the person who is selling the item then make sure they have used food safe 99% pure tin, and if it is a company make sure they have done the same! If you want to have your own pan retinned then go for a professional re-tinner, they can be expensive but you will be getting a whole new pan back with no issues!

The level of expertise can be reflected in the prices charged - a good retinning job from a specialist re-tinner using certified pure tin costs upwards of 2-5€ or $3-8 per cm so a 20 cm pan will cost possibly 60€ or $75 to retin, if a retinned pan is wonderfully cheap then it is possibly not as good a deal as you think!

So 'in a nutshell', when buying old tin linings make sure that they are in tact, darkened tin is fine for cooking (but not dirty). Any copper showing on tinned pans needs new tin - factor that into what you are paying. If buying from a dealer make sure the pan is fit for purpose and the linings are clean and in tact, unless otherwise described. New tin needs 'bedding in', new tin lined pans need the 'provenance' from where they were retinned,  - ask the right questions and you will buy the right pan.

*Silver linings are the most conductive but also the most expensive. Louis XIV of Versailles had solid silver pans for his household!

©Normandy Kitchen Copper 2022