FoodAartichoke explosion stuns Italian woman; police investigate bizarre case

Aartichoke explosion stuns Italian woman; police investigate bizarre case

What are exploding artichokes?
What are exploding artichokes?
Images source: © Adobe Stock

5:09 PM EDT, May 31, 2024

"Woman shocked by exploding artichoke calls the police," reported headlines on Italian news portals after a vegetable exploded while being cut in Varese, northern Italy. "Explosive artichokes do exist, and I encountered one," commented the Italian woman who witnessed the event. So, what exactly are exploding artichokes? And are they dangerous?

Due to the prevailing climate, the globe artichoke is a vegetable popular in Mediterranean countries, the Canary Islands, Egypt, and various countries in Asia and South America. Interestingly, artichokes are considered one of the oldest vegetables cultivated by humans. However, it turns out that even they can surprise us.

Artichoke exploded while being cut. "There was soot mark on the knife"

The incident took place a few weeks ago. The woman, who shared everything on social media, emphasized that nothing serious had happened. However, she revealed that the situation unsettled her.

"I was cleaning the vegetable. I started from the leaves at the bottom to get to the upper part where the artichoke is lighter. When I cut it a second time, there was a spark, followed by the sound of an explosion and a trail of smoke. There was a soot mark on the knife. The smell was identical to what lingers in the air after lighting a firecracker," quoted the Italian portal Varese News, citing the woman's words.

This was not an isolated incident. In December 2013, in the Italian town of Olgiate Molgora, an artichoke also exploded while being cut, which a concerned woman reported to the police. According to local press, several similar incidents occurred across Italy on the same day, resulting in a few people suffering burns. Therefore, the police in Olginate and supermarket managers were notified, and they immediately removed all artichokes displayed on their counters from the market. Similar incidents were also noted in 2003 and 2008 in Italy.

Why do artichokes explode?

Exploding artichokes do indeed occur. The reaction can be explained scientifically. Ammonium nitrate, one of the most commonly used fertilizers, can cause artichoke explosions. It's worth noting that ammonium nitrate is also an ingredient in many types of explosives.

Artichokes© Pixabay

Just a tiny amount of fertilizer getting inside the head, where it dries, can cause an explosion. One theory suggests that the reaction is triggered by sudden movement or heat, generated, for example, during the rapid slicing of the artichoke. Moreover, simply heating the vegetable can also cause an explosion. It's important to note that the reaction can be prevented by thoroughly washing the vegetable.

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