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Last post Author Topic: Strange question about salsa  (Read 6999 times)

edbro

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Strange question about salsa
« on: March 02, 2010, 12:02:16 PM »
What the heck is in store bought salsa that makes it spark when microwaving it? I've noticed several times that when I try to heat up salsa in the microwave, it will spark as if there is metal in it (there isn't). Has anybody else experienced this?

TucknDar

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2010, 12:49:39 PM »
Haven't tried it, but that sure is a strange question about salsa :P

steeladept

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #2 on: March 02, 2010, 12:54:46 PM »
Yep.  Noticed that many times myself.  I never figured it out.

f0dder

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2010, 01:56:27 PM »
Noticed & wondered about that myself - I've experienced it with a few other food items as well, but can't remember which ones, d'oh :)
- carpe noctem

mwb1100

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2010, 03:20:45 PM »
What the heck is in store bought salsa that makes it spark when microwaving it?

The merciless peppers of Quetzlzacatenango?

Stoic Joker

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #5 on: March 02, 2010, 03:49:44 PM »
What the heck is in store bought salsa that makes it spark when microwaving it?

The merciless peppers of Quetzlzacatenango?

 :huh: ...Okay, I dare you to say that three times fast.

superboyac

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #6 on: March 02, 2010, 03:51:57 PM »
More than one person has seen this?  That's weird!  And fascinating!

edbro

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #7 on: March 02, 2010, 04:01:09 PM »
I've been searching the web on this and I believe it is from the jalapenos. But, I don't have a good answer as to why they spark.

Carol Haynes

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #8 on: March 02, 2010, 04:02:09 PM »
pips

cranioscopical

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2010, 05:01:57 PM »
If you wish to avoid problems with salsa in the microwave, respect the 'No Dancing' warning on the inside of the door.

40hz

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2010, 07:04:02 PM »
I've seen that happen too. Funny how salsa will do that - but the metal staple in a teabag won't. Weird huh?

Here's an article by Adrian Popa (Staff Optical/Microwave Physics, Hughes Research Laboratories) on it happening with grapes:

http://www.madsci.or.../882909591.Ph.r.html

Quote
... There are two general classes of antennas, metallic conducting antennas and dielectric antennas that concentrate electromagnetic fields. The common antennas most people are familiar with are antennas made from conducting wires and rods such as the rabbit ears on indoor TV antennas or the multirod TV antennas on millions of roof tops. Dielectric antennas include various geometric solids including cylinders, spheres and plastic focusing lenses.

Non conducting dielectric materials are used for microwave cooking ware because they are relatively transparent to microwave energy. Also dielectric heating of food, particularly the water molecules in food, is the key principle used in microwave cooking.

Dielectric spheres one or more wavelengths in diameter form a special class of microwave antenna structure. When a dielectric sphere is immersed in a microwave field the spheres concentrate the electric field lines along an axis as shown in Figure A. If the sphere is slightly elongated, the field will usually align with the longest axis. This is exactly what water filled grapes (which are one or two wavelengths in diameter) will do in a microwave oven. The concentrated microwave field inside the grapes quickly heats the grapes to a high temperature after only 10 seconds of heating. ...

I put two grapes with their stem holes tightly together and the pair of grapes form a larger more efficient dipole like antenna as the microwave energy field flows between the two coupled grapes. I believe this is why the coupled grapes are much hotter after 10 seconds of heating than single grapes are.

Finally, I slightly separated the stem holes of the grape pairs by about one millimeter. As the grapes are heated each grape emits a jet of steam toward the other grape and the concentrated microwave fields from the spheres reach more than 3000 volts exciting the steam into a plasma state as shown in Figure B. The plasma forms a short circuited conductor between the dipoles and we get the arching in the region of steam between the arrows shown in Figure B. When the grapes have expelled their steam pressure I found that the plasma extinguishes and the arc goes out.

This explanation is based on spheres filled with pure water and we know that the grape juice is acidic not just pure water. A more complex reaction is occurring within the grapes. However, the external resultant arcing would probably be about the same for both cases.

I said in the beginning that this is a complicated experiment with a complicated answer. It would take some expensive microwave equipment and time to study the arcing grapes in more detail in the laboratory. I hope this helps answer some of your questions.

Must have been a slow day over at Hughes Research. :P

« Last Edit: March 02, 2010, 07:14:37 PM by 40hz »

40hz

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2010, 07:12:43 PM »
If you wish to avoid problems with salsa in the microwave, respect the 'No Dancing' warning on the inside of the door.

So that's why I couldn't get that lemon merengue pie recipe to work in the microwave!
 ;D




Shades

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2010, 08:36:05 PM »
...but my "special" cake (Dutch recipe) cannot stop raggeaton dancing...  ;)

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #13 on: March 02, 2010, 08:37:32 PM »
So why would you want to microwave salsa? Isn't it supposed to be served chilled, or at least only room temperature?


JavaJones

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #14 on: March 02, 2010, 11:01:22 PM »
As you'll note from the article on grapes, it's the separation that causes the "spark" (or plasma as he says). Do these sparks occur only on the surface of your salsa, or do they appear to be inside too? Is this chunky salsa (e.g. fresca) by chance? If so perhaps the chunks are creating shapes in the surface that result in small gaps and produce a similar effect to the grapes. Note that I think the composition of the material matters, as in the case of the grape with a large proportion of water (and sugars?). So perhaps the salsa's composition has similarly spark/plasma-friendly characteristics...

- Oshyan

40hz

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #15 on: March 02, 2010, 11:09:51 PM »
Actually, I think Carol might have nailed it. And succinctly too!

"pips"

Brill!  :Thmbsup:
« Last Edit: March 02, 2010, 11:12:00 PM by 40hz »

superboyac

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #16 on: March 03, 2010, 12:01:54 AM »
40hz...why do you know everything?!  I mean, seriously...

Deozaan

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #17 on: March 03, 2010, 01:03:40 AM »
Actually, I think Carol might have nailed it. And succinctly too!

"pips"

Brill!  :Thmbsup:


What are pips?


f0dder

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #18 on: March 03, 2010, 01:47:42 AM »
So why would you want to microwave salsa? Isn't it supposed to be served chilled, or at least only room temperature?
Depends on what it's being used for - for nachos, I like personally like the salsa heated along with the chips & cheese :)
- carpe noctem

40hz

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #19 on: March 03, 2010, 02:42:54 AM »
What are pips?

Pips (UK) = Seeds (US)  8)

40hz...why do you know everything?!  I mean, seriously...

Seriously?

I don't!  ;D

I just read a lot - and I'm not shy when it comes to asking questions. :Thmbsup:

*Note: Most people who really 'know their stuff' are quite generous about sharing their expertise if approached with a modicum of respect. At least that's been my experience. So when in doubt, identify an expert, and give them a call.


« Last Edit: March 03, 2010, 02:48:34 AM by 40hz »

Deozaan

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #20 on: March 03, 2010, 04:37:10 AM »
So why would you want to microwave salsa? Isn't it supposed to be served chilled, or at least only room temperature?
Depends on what it's being used for - for nachos, I like personally like the salsa heated along with the chips & cheese :)
What are pips?

Pips (UK) = Seeds (US)  8)

I'm starting to remind myself of that quote... Something like, "Remain silent and people will think you're an idiot. Open your mouth and you will remove all doubt." :-[


Carol Haynes

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #21 on: March 03, 2010, 05:34:49 AM »
I'm starting to remind myself of that quote... Something like, "Remain silent and people will think you're an idiot. Open your mouth and you will remove all doubt." :-[

ROFL - I know the feeling.

superboyac

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #22 on: March 03, 2010, 08:26:12 AM »
*Note: Most people who really 'know their stuff' are quite generous about sharing their expertise if approached with a modicum of respect. At least that's been my experience. So when in doubt, identify an expert, and give them a call.
Yes, I do that, it's the best way to learn anything in my opinion.  Really though, if I'm ever on a gameshow or anything, you're my lifeline.

steeladept

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #23 on: March 03, 2010, 08:54:57 AM »
As you'll note from the article on grapes, it's the separation that causes the "spark" (or plasma as he says). Do these sparks occur only on the surface of your salsa, or do they appear to be inside too? Is this chunky salsa (e.g. fresca) by chance? If so perhaps the chunks are creating shapes in the surface that result in small gaps and produce a similar effect to the grapes. Note that I think the composition of the material matters, as in the case of the grape with a large proportion of water (and sugars?). So perhaps the salsa's composition has similarly spark/plasma-friendly characteristics...

- Oshyan
To answer your questions, it is, of course, on the surface as you can not see into salsa.  It is not transparent, nor even translucent enough to see if it is inside or not.  As for the composition, it is very watery w/ sugars and is, acidic (the liquid being mostly tomato juice), so it is likely very similar composition from a pH and/or water content point of view.  I have not noticed any particular brand possessing this feature, nor any particular style, so I doubt it is inherently "chunky" salsa in particular.  I think it is more likely the composition --- or the "pips"  :P

So why would you want to microwave salsa? Isn't it supposed to be served chilled, or at least only room temperature?
Depends on what it's being used for - for nachos, I like personally like the salsa heated along with the chips & cheese :)

Agreed.  Chili con Queso is a great way of eating salsa and requires it to be hot.  Salsa is the ultimate snack food in my opinion.  There are as many recipes as their are people who make it, it tastes good hot or cold, goes with just about anything, and is probably one of the most health snacks on the planet.  What you eat WITH it may not be, but that is another issue.   :D :D :D

edbro

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Re: Strange question about salsa
« Reply #24 on: March 03, 2010, 10:48:12 AM »
What you eat WITH it may not be, but that is another issue.   :D :D :D
Only brussel sprouts, I promise ::)

Seriously though, the reason I microwave it is because I pack it for lunch to put on top of homemade burritos that my wife makes. I don't want to put cold salsa on a hot burrito and I prefer salsa to picante sauce.