Imagine a world without bread. No, seriously, just take a minute and wonder how life would be without bread. That would be terrible, right? Bread has been had for Millenia and holds historical, agricultural, cultural, religious, secular, economic and contemporary importance.
Although bread is easy to prepare, it can as quickly go bad. Most people tend to throw bread away like they do other food waste. However, composting is still an option. Some will agree with the idea of composting bread, but others will advise against it. So, what do you do with stale or waste bread? This article looks into composting bread.
Can You Put Bread in Compost?
Yes, bread can be composted. Stale bread is organic, just like any other kitchen waste, and rots just the same. Therefore, bread can easily be composted. It will decompose quickly and can be a resourceful source of nitrogen to your compost pile.
However, any food scraps can also attract pests, and your decision whether to or not to compost bread mostly depends on your composting method.
The majority of those opposing composting bread argue or justify their arguments by citing rodents and other creepy crawlies who will feast on the bread. But why waste such a valuable source of organic material? And why send something to a landfill if you can compost it?
Bread is organic matter, and simply composting it adds to your final compost. If you are regularly in the business of throwing bread away, it may serve a better purpose to you as compost, rather than ending up in landfills.
Disturbing fact: up to 40% of food in the United States never gets eaten, making it not only end up in landfills but also a real problem. Another reason for composting bread is that unlike certain types of food waste such as dairy products, the bread will not imbalance the mix of your compost pile or slow down the composting process.
Also, as compost material, bread breaks down incredibly fast. Once exposed to moisture, it will practically fall apart on contact, especially when it’s already in small pieces.
Unfortunately, composting bread has the potential to draw animal pests such as rodents to your compost pile. This is the number one reason you will find for not adding any bread whatsoever. Luckily, some measures can be taken to prevent these pests from engaging with your compost.
Compost bread in an enclosed bin or a compost bin with a lid. This will help keep the pests from finding their way to the food scraps. If your compost bin is open, make sure that the pieces of bread are well covered or buried with other material inside the compost bin to help prevent the pest problem from arising. With a bit of forethought and preparation, composting your bread does not have to cause you unnecessary anxiety.
To successfully compost bread, first, break it up into smaller pieces, as this will help the bread decompose faster as well as prevent pests from invading the pile.
Secondly, place the bread in the center of the compost pile. This is where most of the heat is being generated and will help speed up the decomposition. The move will also prevent it from being found by the bests easily.
Third, cover up the bread with materials like dry leaves or sawdust that are high in carbon. This will cover the bread from pests and will also balance the nitrogen and carbon organic matter in the compost pile, making the process more efficient.
Fourthly, keep the pile aerated by introducing enough oxygen. Next up, speed up the decomposition by adding manure, garden soil or finished compost to help the bread decompose more quickly.
Finally, replace the compost. Remember to cover the hole that you dug to put the bread and food scraps with compost to help hide the bread and food from the lurking pests, rodents, or other animals.
Can You Put Moldy Bread in Compost?
Oh yes! In fact, stale and moldy bread is the best kind of bread to compost. Once the bread goes out of date, it becomes the perfect candidate for tossing into your compost. The fact that the bread has mold on it means that it has already started the process of decomposing all on its own.
Adding moldy bread to your compost is just helping nature along. Regardless of the type of bread, if you are not going to consume it yourself, then it can make a delicious treat for the organisms in your compost.
The mold will not adversely affect anything in a compost bin or tumbler. In fact, adding anything that is moldy to waste that is destined to become compost will help with the process.
The first thing that happens to any organic material when it is added to a compost bin is that it will turn moldy. You might not necessarily notice this because the mold stage in compost comes and goes quite quickly, often occurring between visits to the bin.
If you have worms in your compost, they will be delighted if anything moldy turns up. They actually eat the mold fungus that is generated from the molding process. This is probably why you do not see mold in a compost bin because the worms get at it before you get to see it. Fungal material is soft and therefore easy for worms to bite at and digest.
Can You Compost Bread Crumbs?
Certainly! You can compost bread crumbs. They are a small and broken version of bread. Remember when we said that bread should be broken down before being thrown into the compost bin? Bread crumbs are already there. However, they should also be broken down into the most minor pieces possible before being added to the composting bin.
They should also be spread over the existing compost in the compost tumbler, and they should not be the only organic materials in the bin. Add some other, more easily broken down matter into the compost bin if necessary. Ideal items include yard waste, vegetables or any other organic matter that is in its natural state.
Can You Compost Bread Dough?
Definitely! The dough is the early stage of bread, and if bread is compostable, then so is dough. You can actually compost anything that contains starch, including bread, bread crumbs and bread dough. Much like baked bread, bread dough will behave pretty much the same.
Dough in compost will go moldy. It will then begin to break down completely into finished compost. The yeast factor will then come into play and help with the degeneration. The challenge with sending bread dough into the compost pile, like all other bread products, including cakes, pasta and baked goods, is that they invite and attract pests.
Therefore, to avoid this, make sure you tightly cap the compost bin or tumbler so that the pests do not manage to sneak in. Also, chop it into small pieces and have it buried inside the pile and have it covered with other organic material. This way, it will not attract pests, and since the inside of the pile will generate a lot of heat, the dough will decompose quite easily and quickly.
To avoid having to throw away dough into the compost bin, make enough for your final product. Please do not make a lot as it might end up going bad and ending up outside. Alternatively, put it in your freezer. You can freeze your dough as soon as you make it.
In fact, the practice of freezing dough is a good way of having a stock of dough that can be used for either bread or pizza bases. It can be weighed into the portions that you need and sealed in plastic bags to the frozen dough.
However, you need to use it within twelve months, or it may start to dry out. And if you know that you will be using it tomorrow, take it out tonight and put it in the fridge overnight. It will thaw out enough to be soft, but it will not start rising and get out of control. When taken into warm air, it will carry on rising as though it has never been frozen.
Can You Compost Bread Products?
Yes, all bread products can be composted, although some are against this because they can attract pests. Other bread products, including pasta and baked goods, can also be sent to the composting bin, but the same cautionary measures mentioned above still apply. There is nothing wrong with composting bread products like pasta, cake and other baked goods.
However, first, you have to ensure they do not contain any sort of fatty or creamy sauce on them as it can imbalance the compost. Plain pasta, for instance, especially the uncooked one, works best when it comes to composting.
If your pasta has a lot of oil in it, it might do more harm than good to your compost as it slows down the composting process and prevents tiny microorganisms from breaking the rest of the compost down.
Secondly, you have to ensure the sugary parts, especially that of cake, are buried properly within the compost pile. This is because they attract ants and potentially other pests like rodents.
You should handle these other baked products the same way you handle bread: break them into small pieces, dig and bury them in the centre of your compost pile, and completely cover them with high carbon like sawdust or pieces of paper.
This keeps off the pests, ensures the baked bread products are composted quickly due to the immense heat at the center of the pile and ensures there is healthy nitrogen to carbon ratio inside the composting bin.
What Can You Do With Stale Bread?
- Revive it: you can transform or revive your stale bread by just sprinkling some water on it. After doing this, briefly warm it in the oven, and you will have some bread with you.
- Make some Fattoush: this is a famous bread and vegetable salad in the Middle East. It uses stale flatbread and can also use stale pitta, Italian or French bread.
- Make crispbreads: simply spread stale slices of bread with a bit of butter or olive oil, put them in the oven until they turn golden brown, and serve like crispbreads. They are even better when topped with soft cheese such as ricotta.
- Make pizza toast: you can also cover leftover bread with chopped tomatoes, herbs and grated cheese, and pop under the grill to make pizza toast.
- Make soufflé: there seems to be an exciting relationship between stale bread and eggs. If you love soufflé but are not in the mood to worry about it rising or collapsing, cheese, onion and bread soufflé is an easy recipe to make with stale bread.
- Feed the birds: you can also feed your birds with stale bread. It can be a lifeline for them, especially in the winter, as; long as it is part of a varied diet.