Dear Barbara: You write frequently about food safety. That brings up a question concerning “sun tea.” It sits out in the sun for hours and no one seems to mind; plus I have not heard of anyone that got sick from drinking sun tea. Can you give me any info on that? — Kylie from Lodi
Dear Kylie: People have been drinking sun tea for years and haven’t gotten sick — or maybe it isn’t newsworthy because we don’t have an outbreak of it. I think there are as many people who say it is OK as there are who say it isn’t.
Sun tea is fine, but you do need to remember some safety rules. Start with a very clean container; preferably glass. Fill it with hot water and drop in your tea bags. Regular black tea does discourage the growth of the bacteria; but just slightly. Don’t leave it in the sun more than four hours, and promptly refrigerate. It is only good for a day, and should be disposed of after that. If there is a whitish, stringy substance floating on top of the tea, don’t drink it; that is bacteria!
You can also make cold sun tea that you don’t have to worry about. Simply run filtered water into your vessel with about 4 to 6 tea bags and refrigerate. I prefer the cold steeping; tastes just as good and there is no worry about bacteria.
Dear Barbara: I love the look of the pink Himalayan salt slabs. Other items are often sculpted from the slab. I was given six shot glasses made from the pink slab of salt and want to know if I could put them in the freezer. — Annie from Lodi
Dear Annie: It is fine to freeze items made from pink Himalayan salt. However, I would not freeze them for more than a year.
Lodi has a store that’s called Sea Salt Cottage that meets all of your requirements. Since the salt is anti-bacterial, you can just brush the crumbs off; you do not want to immerse them in water.
If you buy a slab, they are great to cook on, grill, or anything else. You can freeze them and the appetizers will stay very cool for a long period of time. You can also heat them and use them for a trivet and it will keep your casserole warm.
Barbara Spitzer is a Lodi home cook who also develops recipes for specific consumer products. Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and city.