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Hi:

The other morning I woke up and found salsa splattered everywhere, a sort of minor explosion, it appeared. One of those small round plastic containers of salsa had blown the lid and its contents all over my bookshelf and laptop. The container's neighbor was under pressure and about to go. Luckily, I defused that one. What happened?

-- Greg Perrin, El Cajon

So you stored the salsa on your bookshelf. And you made room for it by putting your books in the refrigerator, right? You have a real Guy sense of housekeeping. Grandma Alice is appalled. If salsa in the laptop doesn't teach you a lesson, maybe this will. We dialed up Linda Harris, a UC Davis professor of microbes in consumer products. She said yeasts (maybe bacteria, more likely yeasts) in your salsa fermented, gave off their yeasty gasses, which blew up your container. What you bought (in plastic) was the so-called "fresh" salsa. It came from the refrigerated section of the store, over by the hot dogs and cheese. Remember? Guess not. And it says right on the label that you're supposed to store the stuff in your refrigerator. When fresh salsas are processed, they're not heated to temperatures that will destroy all microbes. They have a much shorter shelf life and must be stored in a refrigerator to slow the growth of whatever's in there. Grandma advises that you stick to the bottled stuff, fully pasteurized in vacuum-sealed glass. Much safer for salsa beginners like yourself. When you've mastered Pace and La Victoria, then you can move on to the fresh stuff. But have a responsible adult with you when you do.

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