Author Topic: Copper vats  (Read 262 times)

Offline qdog1955

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Copper vats
« on: September 07, 2014, 06:52:50 AM »
Hi There,
  New to the site---but in going over the tons of info here, I came upon an old post about using copper vats. Having been a metal smith (copper, tin, pewter,silver) for over 25 years: I felt compelled to offer some insight on copper for anyone considering it's use.
  #1 Copper is toxic in higher levels---especially in an acid environment
  #2 The Food and drug administration requires copper cooking vessels have a protective coating inside ( I believe the Europeans do too). Today that is usually some form of nickel plating. In colonial times they used a hand applied tin coating, similar to tinning a soldering iron. This coating has very little effect on coppers excellent heating and cooling capacity.
  #3 Studies have shown that copper and brass have high antimicrobial properties and may be very useful in hospital environs. I don't know if that includes any beneficial bacterias.
  #4 That green patina you see on the Statue of Liberty is called verdigris and is highly toxic, acetic acid will make this worse.
   I don't know what, if any, effect all of this this has on cheese making.
You can verify this info-- Google:-- is copper toxic?--- antimicrobial properties of copper--are  copper pans safe?
  Having said all that---a copper penny is now worth 2 cents in scrap prices----the prices of everything made from copper has skyrocketed,
so I would have to question the cost and inconvenience of using copper over a good 304 stainless.
   


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Offline Chicken man

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Re: Copper vats
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2014, 10:02:38 AM »
Hi qdog...
Thanks for that good info...304 stainless is still corrosive and not considered to be best for vats..316 is the right choice for anyone wanting to make a vat!
I know there are however vats that are being manufactured in south east asia that are 304 stainless..so ppl should beware when buying from there!
Cheers
Ian

Offline qdog1955

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Re: Copper vats
« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2014, 11:02:48 AM »
Hi Ian,
  It has been a long time since I have reviewed the properties of the stainless grades--- I know that none of them handle the nitric and hydrochloric acids. Some grades will handle sulfuric acids depending on temperature and some will not handle fats and fatty acids. So you are probably right about the 316. I'm much more familiar with non-ferrous metals. I would suggest anyone looking into buying stainless equipment should probably do a little research on what type is best suited to their needs. Lets face it, a decent grade stainless can be darn expensive!
Scott

Offline John@PC

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Re: Copper vats
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2014, 04:59:38 PM »
Good information all, but before we start scaring the members into thinking their cheese pans are going to be excessively corroded it's important to note all 300 grade stainless is considered food grade and that as long as it's purchased from a reputable manufacturer the consumer will not notice a difference in performance, off-taste or longevity.  We like commercial steam table pans (typically 304 ss) that are used in buffets worldwide.  That said I can't offer any advice on copper except if you do have a big copper vat you may want to consider a BIG lock on the door to your creamery ::).

Offline qdog1955

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Re: Copper vats
« Reply #4 on: September 09, 2014, 05:07:11 AM »
A bank vault might be better!
  Here's a good example of copper prices being out of control. I make my own cheese triers out of 304 stainless and some out of brass--the brass materials ( brass is mostly copper) now costs almost three times the price of the stainless.
   I still wonder why these cheese places are getting such outrageous prices for such a simple tool.


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Offline Alpkäserei

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Re: Copper vats
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2014, 10:56:52 AM »
Regarding copper,

In most cases it is OK. Lots of traditional foods are made in copper. I've eaten food made in raw copper my whole life and have yet to get ill. This includes apple butter, which is acidic and cooked in copper for hours and even gets certain levels of green verdigris in from the long exposure/reaction time.

As for cheese, in commercial applications I have found that the standard is largely, copper can be in contact with milk products as long as the pH is 6 or above. If your pH in the vat drops into the 5's as in cheddar and such, you are not allowed raw copper (tinned copper would likely be allowed). But this comes with the added requirement, they still only will let you do this if you are making some kind of traditional cheese where copper is important. This basically means, most states will let you use copper for Alpines, and that's about it. This is probably because, being Swiss, we all fussed about having to do something other than the traditional way and got an exception as a result.

For just about any other use, I don't see any real advantage to copper. But remember, this is a guy whose contact surfaces are mostly sealed wood.

The materials used, outside of the vat itself, are not that critical. What's more critical is the care you give them. I don't like stainless steel because it lulls people into a sense of false security -that is, I see people not working as clean, because 'I have stainless steel' this is not universal, but it does happen.
I also don't like it because it is cold, and soulless. I like to be surrounded by wood. If I am going to be spending my days in this room, I think it should be pleasant.
Guät git's dr schwiizer Chäser

Offline qdog1955

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Re: Copper vats
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2014, 01:04:16 PM »
   You are absolutely right about the apple butter, living very near a huge apple county here in Pennsylvania, I have seen the huge  copper vats ( must be  50 gallons or more) cooking apples for hours and they were definitely raw copper, wonder how I forgot that one.
  Having been a copper smith---I'd have to agree on the aesthetic value, too