Utensils with copper interiors should never be used for acidic foods, with pH of 6.0 or below, since toxic compounds can form if food is cooked, or stored, or served from such containers. Even if copper pans are lined with tin, they should not be used for acidic foods such as fruits, fruit juices, salad dressings, tomatoes, vinegar-containing foods, etc. Copper bowls may be used for beating egg whites, or copper kettles for cooking high sugar foods like fudge, for these foods are alkaline.
Utensils with copper on the bottom, or outside, and stainless steel, aluminum, or a porcelain enamel interior finish are safe to use and conduct heat well. Avoid high heat which discolors copper bottoms.
Ideally you should clean copper bottoms after each use, even though the tarnish does not affect cooking results or the pan's efficiency. Do not use an abrasive cleaner or steel wool to clean copper bottoms.
To clean tarnished copper:
Wash tarnished copper with soap and warm water and polish with a commercial cleaner. A homemade cleaner of equal parts of salt, vinegar and flour also works well. After rubbing the item with this mixture or any polish, wash it carefully, rinse thoroughly and dry.
[Info from the Home Maintenance And Repair Database at the Michigan State University website]
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