Asparagus making sparks in the microwave?
April 10, 2011 10:30 AM   Subscribe

I tried to microwave some asparagus and it started sparking. What is going on?

I put some Trader Joe's asparagus in the microwave this morning and it started making sparks (I turned it off right away). It looked like the sparks were coming from the spiky tips on the sides of the stalks.

Any idea what would cause this?
posted by mr frosted to Food & Drink (7 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
One possible link of interest, which says, "General Mills the grower of [these] vegetables issued a written statement. In it, the company said: "It would appear in this case the sparking was due to the presence of naturally occurring minerals in the vegetables, like magnesium, iron, zinc and potassium. .... . The USDA does confirm this bizarre sparking is most likely due to the minerals found the soil in which the vegetables were grown."

I haven't seen this in my own microwave, so I wonder if certain oven designs favor this effect.
posted by crapmatic at 10:49 AM on April 10, 2011

FWIW, some additional data points: I've seen this happen with broccoli bought on two different coasts of the USA, in two microwave ovens with very different designs: an over-the-oven unit with a rotating glass plate inside, and a table-top unit without a turnstile (it claims to rotate the magnetron or antenna instead—don't have the docs in front of me).

I always wondered what caused sparkly broccoli. Mineral content makes sense. Thanks for the info!
posted by StrawberryPie at 12:57 PM on April 10, 2011

I've had this happen warming up canned green beans. A microwave repair guy didn't know why this would occur, thought maybe it was too many microwaves vs. too little food, and suggested heating on lower power. But the mineral explanation makes more sense.
posted by lakeroon at 1:00 PM on April 10, 2011

It happens to me when i reheat green beans that were out of the steamfresh bags. Eating them anyway hasn't killed me yet!
posted by Nickel Pickle at 1:12 PM on April 10, 2011

I've seen this with frozen carrots. I had speculated it might be that the microwave heated them unevenly, and one part got superhot and bam, localized carrot explosions. The minerals sounds much more plausible, though.

With frozen veggies, if you add a little water to the bottom of the dish and get the veggies a little wet first, the sparking doesn't happen.
posted by spiny at 4:14 PM on April 10, 2011

Thanks everybody! Sounds like it may be a combination of the minerals and cooking a small quantity of the vegetable.
posted by mr frosted at 12:38 PM on April 12, 2011

Definately minerals. Try zapping a pickle.
posted by nenequesadilla at 3:52 PM on April 14, 2011

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