Hey all! First post here.
I've recently begun the process of learning to cook properly. I moonlight as a professional thrift shopper, so my "step 0" has been finding good cookware. That has gone extremely well!
However, I am currently faced with a mystery, and it seems like the ChowHound community may be the place to take it.
So, storytime. (Apologies in advance, this is long)
I was out thrifting two weeks ago. My heart STOPPED when I saw six large pieces of copper cookware at Goodwill. I was sure that the four largest pieces (~8 qt stockpot, ~5qt saute, ~3 qt saucepan, ~8 inch skillet, LIDS AND ALL) were vintage French pieces, as they had the huge cast iron handles I associate with those. They were heavy, too!
My heart restarted and sunk when I saw the stickers on the handles... "MADE IN KOREA". All of them. The four that I was sure were French, plus the other two. (those two were made by Duoro; new + with stickers still on them).
When I looked at the sides, I saw they were silver, not copper, and assumed I'd just found some cheap copper-plated knock-offs. I ended up still buying them, as they were cheap, and I figured I could display them if nothing else.
A few days later, I was looking at my disappointing thrifts and had a pipedream moment:
"If they're cheap plated crap, it doesn't matter if I put a little scratch in the linings to double check."
So, I put a knife to them, and made a deep scratch in an upper corner of each lining.
I redid it, just to be sure, this time on the outside.
So, now I'm getting pretty excited. My real job is science, so I promptly launched into a series of tests to confirm that the cookware is indeed solid copper (controlled tests against other cookware for speed boiling water, a lining content test on a pot that already seemed to possibly need relining, cooking eggs on the frypan and checking for odd tastes / heavy metal poisoning).
At the conclusion of all of this, it seems as though these pans are indeed solid copper, Korean-made analogs to earlier French pieces. The linings seem to be nickel, as they're extremely thin, and do not melt, even at extreme temperatures.
So, I now have three questions:
1) What on Earth do I have here? I was under the impression that all Korean-made copper cookware was super-thin, cheap, and by-and-large unsuitable for actual cooking. These seem to be 2ish-MM copper with nickel linings and riveted cast iron handles. Has anyone seen things like these before? Are they indeed safe to cook in? (The eggs haven't killed me yet)
2) Any idea on manufacturer? As I said, the two pieces I left behind were cheap Korean Duoro pans which still had shop tags on them, so my first instinct was to check for Duoro stuff. I haven't found anything however. (The ones I got just had tiny "MADE IN KOREA" stickers on them—no branding)
3) My final lining content test on the stockpot was... Aggressive. The bottom of the stockpot already looked sort of messed up (orange streaks on the bottom, which I later determined to actually be copper peeking through the super-thin nickel coating), so I figured "to hell with it, I'm going to get this thing hellishly hot empty, and see if the lining melts".
Well, it didn't melt, so it seems I have a nickel-lined pot. However, I'm not sure if this particular pot will be safe to use before re-lining. I've included a photo of the state of the bottom after my heat test.
Photos attached: all four pieces, linings (black spots on frypan are tiny bits of burnt flour from a final heat test which I haven't quite gotten off), and a few detail close-ups, plus the lining of my torture-tested stockpot.
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