Search the website
Pati Jinich DSC_0489

When I visited Mexico this past December, I bought a gorgeous copper pot from a young lovely woman in the city of Celaya. Although the most famous place in Mexico to buy copper pots is the town of Santa Clara del Cobre in the state of Michoacán, I visited Celaya to learn how to make Cajeta the traditional way. Traditional Cajeta makers consider copper pots a required tool for this craft, so Celaya has managed to make their own. And boy, are they pretty.

photo56

Called cazo or olla de cobre in Spanish, Mexican cooks swear by these hand-hammered copper pots to make special things, such as carnitas for savory food, but mostly for all sorts of sweets.

This may be partly because copper is one of the most effective materials to transfer heat with even distribution as well as steady intensity, throughout its entire cooking surface. Yet since copper is a reactive metal, and most cazos de cobre are handmade and not lined with tin, copper pots are not good to rely on for everyday cooking. A copper pot is best suited as a specialty pot, for special things and special occasions. And of course, it looks beyond divine in any kitchen. You can, of course, look for copper pots that are lined with tin or stainless steel, and they in turn, need special care…

According to food science expert Harold McGee in his book On Food and Cooking, copper has a “high affinity for oxygen and sulfur, and forms a greenish coating when exposed to air.” To ensure that your copper pot is as clean as can be, that doesn’t corrode, and it maintains its pretty luster, you need to give it a good maintenance and cleaning regimen. As much as it sounds serious, it is quite easy! The woman who sold it to me taught me her method.

Before and after using it, each time, clean it with a sponge and lightly soapy water, rinse it. Then cut a lime in half and sprinkle a generous amount of grainy salt on it, kosher or sea salt will do.

DSC_0467

Use the salted lime to polish the pot, squeezing the lime to release the juice as you scrub along. Then just rinse and dry.

DSC_0457

You see? It’s simple!

Other methods used to maintain and clean copper pots use another acid instead of lime, such as vinegar. The Culinary Institute of America’s book The Professional Chef suggests adding flour to the acid and salt mix to make a copper cleaning paste. The flour is just added for a more helpful texture of what’s used to clean the pot.

Any method will work as long as you have an acid and a salt. The acid causes a reaction with the copper that erases the stains or discoloration and cleans it and the salt gives you the grittiness to scrub.


Comments

You said you bought a copper pot. Does this lady have some way that we can buy her copper pots from the states and how can I get information. Or does she have a website.

Think you
Erlinda Tubbs


Cobre is also excellent to use when whipping egg whites!

Yes, it is!! Thank you, Gerald!



Q: I’m thinking about making chocoflan for my son’s birthday party but would like to make a single cake rather than individual ramekins. I can certainly experiment, but thought I’d see if anyone has thoughts about what pan might work (I was thinking about a bundt pan?) or how long I might cook it? – Jen

A: Jen, You can make the chocoflan as a single cake for your son’s birthday party. A bundt pan will work perfectly and is exactly what I would have suggested! Cook for about 10 minutes more than the recipe calls for and test with a wooden toothpick. Take out when the toothpick comes out moist, but not wet. – Pati

Jen asked the question, could she cook the chocoflan in a bundt pan. You told her yes, but my question is do you put the bundt pan in a pan of hot water and cover only it or the water and bundt pan also. Terry S.

You cover it all!! Place bundt pan with chocoflan inside in the baking dish and pour hot water to come up to about half its height (of the bundt pan) and then cover the whole thing with a long piece of aluminum foil.



Where can you find a copper pot here in the U. S. A. in the state of Texas?
Terry S.

Are you still interested in a copper cazo?

Yes, would like to know where in Texas i might find one. Also the price of a copper pot.
Thanks!
Terry S.




I just bought one exactly like the ones in the photo of the young Mexican woman holding one on each hand. Same approximate size. I got it at “La Colmena” supermarket in Detroit , MI for $120 plus 6% tax.It is expensive but I think that even if I bought it for $50 in Mexico (and I do not know how much it would really cost) I would find it very difficult to bring back to the US, it is somewhat heavy and definitely voluminous. In Mexico, my Mom and her friends use these type of copper pot to cook “nopales” mainly. They say that using the copper pot, nopales keep a darker green color instead of turning pale green when cooked. Not sure if that is true or if I am ever going to cook anything in it, I just love the way it looks in my kitchen.

They do look beautiful in the kitchen!! Thank you for sharing, Keiko. Great information!



I think we all need a trip back to Celaya or San Miguel de Allende to buy these beautiful pots/bowls.


I am SO glad I found this! About 6 years ago inherited a pot exactly like the one in the picture from my husbands Grandmother after she passed away. It’s in pretty bad shape color wise though and I had no idea how to clean it. I’m trying this cleaning method this weekend! Thank you so much!!

Que bueno!



Does anyone have a good recipe for carnitas using the cazo?



Leave a Comment


Home | About Pati | TV Show | Cookbook | Pati’s Blog | Contact | Terms of Use & Privacy Policy
© 2010-2014 Mexican Table, LLC. All rights reserved.
 
Get the Newsletter