Friday, March 18, 2011

My Dirty Little Secret

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So here it is, my confession. I hate cleaning pots and pans. The insides are always clean, but I really hate scouring the exteriors, so I don't. Or shall I say, I didn't. Trust me, from this point forward, I am scrubbing.

Let me say first however, that I am meticulous about some odd places in the house. My washing machine and dryer sparkle, always. No old soap scum, no dust, I wipe them down all the time. And my fridge. I have been known to clean it out thoroughly in the middle of the night when I just can't sleep. You will never find anything moldy in there. I can go thru an entire box of toothpicks cleaning all sorts of odd places, and I can disintegrate an entire box of those magic scrubber things. But the pots and pans, I basically have ignored the exteriors.

We are moving this year, and I know I have a great house. I have been debating about the pot rack and most real estate people I know said get it down. Every cook I know said keep it up. My house will sing to someone who loves to cook. So if I am to keep the pot rack up, I have to clean the copper. I found a scouring copper powder and went to work with pathetic results. It took off the tarnish, but the black stuff did not budge. So I walked away.

Then one dreary day, I started Googling, (this is a dangerous habit, it can suck up an entire day and find you in your jammies, still, at 3 in the afternoon). I found many ideas, most for basic tarnish. I know all about lemons and salt and ketchup. But I was beyond tarnish, I am talking cooked on oil, food whatever. Looking at it, well, I am pretty embarrassed. But I know I am not alone, and if you are lucky enough to find a garage sale copper pot that looks hopeless, well, here's hope. So I whipped up a concoction of salt, copper cleaner, vinegar, and steel wool. Now, my copper is the real deal. Not lacquered, not tin lined (I have a few of these but I didn't use this solution on them) and all stainless steel lined. I basically dumped a bunch of copper cleaner granules, some salt a little vinegar and made a paste. The tarnish, what little there was disappeared instantly. Then I attacked the black with the steel wool, very fine grade. This was a very big project. I scrubbed for hours, and have the blister to prove it. But the results are amazing. Now, steel wool will etch the copper, but here's the thing. These are not for display, I cook in these pans everyday. Etching, scratches, and a little patina are part of the process. I can deal with that. If you have lacquered copper and use my method, you will likely cry when you see what happens to cheap copper. If you are sitting on a set or a few pans of Mauviel, then hop to it. It will take a lot more than steel wool to ruin a $300 pan. I even tackled the insides which were clean, but not sparkly, but now have a high shine from the steel wool and some dry Cascade. Here is before... and after. Wow! My pot rack glistens. I still have a few pots on top of the cabinets and in the cupboard that could use a little scrub. But the worst of it is over, and will never be an issue again! So if you are looking for a house in the Memphis area, here's a kitchen any cook would love!


  1. That is awesome! Your pots are beautiful, I am envious. Good luck with the move- I'd be impressed if I saw your pot rack.

  2. Oh great, can't wait for you to come and clean my copper :)

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