Dear Lisa: When a recipe specifies that a "nonreactive" bowl be used, what is that? Thank you. -- Donna G.
Dear Donna: Acidic foods (those with a pH of less than 7) such as citrus juices, vinegar, tomatoes and wine can react with certain metals such as aluminum, cast iron and copper.
Have you ever noticed holes developing in aluminum foil when covering and storing highly acidic foods? The acid actually dissolves microscopic bits of the foil, causing pitting and discoloration.
The same thing happens when acidic foods are mixed and stored in reactive metal containers.
Discoloration and an off-flavor can be imparted to the food as well. That is why the recipe is reminding you to use a nonreactive container.
Glass, plastic, ceramic and stainless steel are all nonreactive materials that can be used safely for preparing and storing acidic foods.
Lisa Fritz, a longtime Bryan food and nutrition educator, answers readers' questions about food, cooking and recipes. Her email address is email@example.com.