Pros: Beautifully Made. Excellent Qualtiy. Excellent Performance
Cons: Heavy. Not For Beginners. Must Be Hand Washed. Requires Periodic Maintenence.
What can I say? There is not one person who has ever held a pan that will deny the beauty of well made copper cookware. Whether you like using copper or not, I think we can all at least agree that copper cookware is the "bella figura" of the culinary world. Well, at least, I think so.
To begin, anyone who has spent any time in the professional culinary world will instantly recognize the name "Mauviel." Mauviel, located in France, is one of the top producers of fine copper cookware. Mauviel offers several lines and grades of copper cookware from the introductory 150c collection right up to their flagship M'Heritage and "M" series copper cookware. Mauviel offers cookware with both tin and stainless steel lining. Mauviel also offers varying thicknesses of copper ranging from 1.5mm to the pro grade 2.5mm. However, 2.5mm thickness is the only grade that offers tin lining.
Mauviel also offers a "hand hammered" copper finish in its higher end lines.
It is the M250 tin lined, hand hammered, copper set that is the focus of this review.
Out of the box, the set is simply stunning. The hand hammered copper is truly a sight to behold, especially in the stock pot. The craftsmanship is excellent from the design of the cast iron handles to the rivets that connect them to the pots and pans. The tin lining is also beautifully polished with no visible imperfections such as scratches, dimples or bubbles.
The visual appearance of the set cannot be overstated. However, the performance of these pots and pans equally matches their beauty. The 2.5mm thick copper provides outstandingly even heating. Hot spots are never a concern. Temperature precision is very simple to attain and retain, especially when making sauces and confections. The beauty of 2.5mm thick copper is its reaction to heat. The thick copper's reaction to changes in temperature is almost instantaneous.
The tin lining provides very good non-stick properties unlike its stainless steel counterpart. In the event of ingredients sticking to the tin, a few minutes soak in warm water will convince even the most stubborn ingredient to release their grip.
The cast iron handles are comfortable in the hand and provide excellent control of the pots and pans during use. Likewise, the lids are precise and fit their pans perfectly with easy to hold handles. Note: the handles on the lids and stock pot are made of brass, not cast iron.
Clean up is simple. Warm water, mild soap and a soft towel or sponge is all that is needed.
Cost vs. value is excellent. If the pans are properly cared for, they will retain their value and will be something that can be handed down from generation to generation.
Tied for first place in the short list of cons is price and weight. Pro grade, 2.5mm copper is pricey no matter who makes it. So, there is really no way to get around that. However, with Mauviel, you get what you pay for. Second is weight. 2.5mm copper is heavy, especially a full stock pot. Even empty, the stock pot is heavy which makes hand washing a bit of a workout.
The tin lining is somewhat "fragile" as compared to stainless steel lined copper. Metal utensils are a definite no no for use with the tin lining. Equally true, abrasives cannot be used on the tin or the copper as they will scratch both.
Equally important, the tin lining can only withstand temperatures up to 450'F which means any searing has to be done with a quickness once the pan reaches sear temperature. Likewise, the tin lining limits use in the oven to under 450'F as well. However, the opposite side of that coin is not too many recipes call for an oven hotter than 450'F.
Never place a tin lined copper pot or pan over heat with nothing in it.
Once the copper has been used, say goodbye to that beautiful, mirror finish. Once these pans have been exposed to direct heat, especially flame, they will never return to their pristine, out of the box finish. Copper changes color permanently when exposed to heat. However, only the parts of copper than have been exposed to direct heat will change. Likewise, the once the tin has been exposed to food, it too, changes and takes on a patina, especially after cooking acidic foods like tomatoes. However, this is to be expected of tin lined copper and nothing to fear. However, if you choose tin lined copper, you must be prepared to accept these facts. Unless you have the cookware re-tinned, there is no way to remove that patina.
This brings me to the next con. The tin will wear out eventually and the pan will have to be re-tinned. There are only a handful of tinsmiths in the US that offer professional re-tinning services. However, the cost of re-tinning is relatively inexpensive as compared to the cost and value of the cookware; about $40 - $80 per pan, depending on size (before shipping cost). Stainless steel, in contrast, will last a life time. But, the opposite of that coin is should the stainless steel lining be damaged and expose the copper, the whole pan is useless and must be thrown away.
Contrary to common belief, the tin lining will typically last longer than most people believe, about 10-15 years under moderate use, less under heavy use. So,keep that in mind.
Tin lined copper is not for beginners, weekend warriors or cooks with average skills. The fragile tin lining demands better than average situational awareness and handling when in use. One mistake and the tin lining can be easily damaged. I would only recommend this line of cookware for experienced home cooks and pro chefs.
Lastly, copper is a greedy mistress. She requires a lot of attention in order to be happy. No one likes polishing copper, but, it must be done from time to time to retain the copper's exquisite beauty.
Overall, the Mauviel M250 Tin Lined copper set is excellent and well worth the money. Buying any professional grade copper is always an investment. With this Mauviel set, you will definitely get your money's worth and enjoy it for a long time.
Thanks for reading.