The pineapple is one of nature’s delicious and healthy tropical fruits. The fruit is packed with nutrients, antioxidants and other helpful compounds, such as enzymes that can fight inflammation and diseases. According to nutritionists, the pineapple and its compounds are linked to a myriad of health benefits, including aiding in digestion, boosting immunity and speeding up recovery from surgery, among others.
The unfortunate part about pineapple is that a large part of the fruit is inedible. This would therefore translate to the large part ending in the garbage. Luckily, composting is also an option, but some careful steps have to be taken to achieve the very best from the fruit through composting. This article looks into composting pineapples.
Can Pineapple Go in Compost?
Yes. You can compost pineapples. The pineapple’s flesh has a very high moisture content, meaning it will rot down quickly. As for the rest of the pineapple, the story is slightly different and the skin, cores and tops or crowns can take considerably longer before rotting down. Obviously, this is because they are a lot dryer, tougher and more water-resistant.
Therefore, to help speed up the composting process, you need to chop these drier and tougher parts of pineapple into smaller pieces. Agricultural fact, you can regrow a pineapple from the leftover pineapple top. It may take up to three years for the fruit to grow fully and would require the greenhouse environment, but it is a fun and long-term little project.
Pineapples are naturally acidic, and this acidity can affect the composting process. In particular, pineapples contain citric acid, which preserves rather than allow for decomposition. Therefore, if you decide to compost pineapples, you need to add some deacidifying products such as hydrated white lime, which will react with the pineapple’s acidity and ultimately lower it.
The citric acid needs to be reduced to allow for the decomposition process, which can be aided by the hydrated white lime. Another critical step to take when composting a pineapple is to cut it into smaller pieces. This makes decomposition easier and quicker, and also allows enough hydrated white lime to reach the entirety of the pineapple, lowering its acidity.
Another important step, especially when you have a full-sized pineapple, is to wash it under running water, to remove pesticide residue, which might be dangerous not only for the entire compost but also for the garden and crops where you use the final compost.
Can You Compost Pineapple Skin?
Of course, you can compost pineapple skins, cores and crowns. They also offer similar benefits to a composting pile and the garden, but some steps have to be taken before throwing the peels into the composting pile.
First, as mentioned above, they are a lot dryer, tougher and more water-resistant. This, therefore, means that for them to be beneficial in the composting pile, you need to chop them into smaller pieces.
Failure to chop them into smaller pieces also means the composting process, which will eventually happen, will take quite a long time since they are tougher to decompose, unlike something like a banana peel. A slow decomposition process kills certain microorganisms and worms, which are vital in the decomposition process.
Secondly, they need to be cleaned, using running water of any pesticide residue. The pesticide residue can potentially be hazardous to the compost and even the garden and crops where the compost will be used. Pineapple peels are known to contain a lot of nitrogen, which not only ensures your compost is balanced but is an essential additive to the soil and crops as fertilizer.
Cleaning the peels off the pesticides and chemicals, balancing the acidity that is also contained in the peels, and cutting them into smaller pieces, should be the first thing done to the peels before adding them to the compost.
Is Pineapple Too Acidic for Compost?
Pineapples are very acidic, but it should not stop you from composting them. A pineapple’s acidity is the primary reason why most people opt out of composting them. The acidity arises from citric acid, which is also present in other citrus fruits, including oranges and lemons.
Luckily, some steps can be taken to achieve a positive compost out of pineapples. First, understand that a freshly ripe pineapple is more acidic than an overly ripen pineapple. As pineapple ages and continues to ripen, its acidity levels go down, a fact that is true for most fruits actually. As it decomposes, some acids and natural chemicals will remain, but most will be broken down by the time your compost is complete.
Secondly, you can alter the pH of the compost pile, which has now been raised by the overly acidic pineapples, using a deacidifying agent such as hydrated white lime. Pineapple in the compost will not be a challenge to hydrated lime. The white lime reacts directly with any acid and lowers the overall pH of the compost pile to the desired levels.
In taking these measures, the acidic fruit will normally decompose, just like any other waste in the compost pile. If the acidity is not lowered within the compost pile, such an item remains in a state of being preserved until the acidity is diluted to a lower level. As such, simply sprinkle some lime over the top of your pile at the same time you add the pineapple waste or shortly after that when you mix it.
Benefits of Putting Pineapple in Compost
1. Improving soil texture
once the compost that contains pineapples is used on the soil, it improves its texture. Pineapple contains calcium that helps with water penetration and eases compact soil. Once the soil is improved, the agricultural yields are also improved, in addition to having positive ecological effects.
2. The pineapple has a high moisture content
Another benefit of having pineapple in your compost is that they have a high moisture content. Composts need to be hydrated or watered for an effective end-product. Luckily with pineapple, it has a high moisture content that it reduces the frequency of you watering the entire pile. With this, the microorganisms continue to grow, and your pile continues to decompose.
3. Pineapple is versatile for composting
Pineapple waste is not only suitable for use in traditional composting. Pineapple may be acidic, but it also contains a lot of sugar, which is fantastic for attracting earthworms. This, therefore, makes pineapple ideal for vermicomposting, which is the product of the decomposition process using different species of worms.
However, caution has to be taken with regards to fresh pineapples, as they are more acidic. Therefore, if you intend to use fresh pineapples for the composting process, give it some time. Pineapple composts are also perfect for use in compost tea preparation, in addition to their usefulness in vermicomposting.
4. It is ecologically friendly
As already mentioned, a large part of the pineapple fruit is inedible. It, therefore, translates that no other fruit can produce as much waste as pineapples. The composting possibilities of the pineapple residues and peels are vast and mean that recycling and composting these wastes leads to a much more agriculturally productive and cleaner planet.
5. It is an excellent source of plant nutrients
Composting pineapples has been proven to be a great source of organic fertilizer for plants. A pineapple compost contains vital nutrients such as vitamins, calcium, phosphorous and zinc. These vitamins help in the growth of plants and also serve antioxidant functions.
Calcium also plays a significant role in the growth and nutrition of a plant. The phosphorous assists the plants in their general health and vigor. Finally, zinc helps with activating enzymes responsible for the synthesis of some proteins by the plants.
6. Increases the presence of micronutrients in the soil
According to research published in the Journal of Soil Science and Plant Nutrition, composted pineapple residue return increases the presence of fungi, actinomycetes and good bacteria in the soil. The Research also adds that the composted pineapple residue return also contributes to the increase in the activities of invertase, acid phosphates and catalase in the soil. These micro-organic activities offer the plants vital nutrients and also antagonizes plant pests.
What Can You Do With Pineapple Waste?
1. Making pineapple skin tea
Yes, pineapple skins make tea. You need some honey or organic sugar, ginger syrup and of course pineapple skins. Boil as enough skins as possible for about 5 to 10 minutes, then let them simmer on medium to low heat for at most one hour. Strain the liquid into a bowl and mash down the skins to get as much liquid as possible.
Make the ginger syrup by boiling freshly cut pieces of ginger for about 30 minutes. Blend the ginger mixture with the pineapple liquid and boil the resulting mixture. Add enough sugar to the boiling mixture and then sieve the ginger strains from the mixture or use honey if that is your preference.
2. Making Leather-like Textile
A company called Ananas Anam is using pineapple leaves to make a sustainable and cheaper alternative to leather called Piñatex. The textile company enlists pineapple farming communities to extract fibres from leaves in an extraction process called decortication. The resulting biomass from decortication can also be converted into organic fertilizer or biogas as an additional source of income to the communities.
3. Large-scale use in the Philippines
Piña fabric is already used in abundance in traditional Filipino clothing in the Philippines. The fabric is preferred for its lightweight and fine qualities and is ideal for warmer climates.
According to the Philippine Information Agency, the country’s 59,000 hectares of pineapple plantations can yield 55,483 tons of pineapple fibre. The resulting agricultural waste can also be alternative materials for apparel, home textiles, upholsteries, non-woven and industrial fabrics.
4. For use in the food industry
Bromelain is an enzyme used to tenderize meat, in brewing, baking and for the production of protein hydrolysates. The enzyme is present and can be extracted from all parts of pineapple, especially the peels and crown. Research by Food Navigator suggested that bromelain extraction from pineapple waste would not only add revenue through increased bromelain supply but it would also reduce the impact of waste disposal.
5. Producing energy
In Costa Rica, the pineapple industry is the second-most crucial agricultural export. When it comes to harvesting them, stubs are typically left on the ground and need to be eliminated after the second harvest. This creates an ideal environment for the breeding of insects that affect and bother the cows all over the nation that they stop giving milk.
This waste pineapple makes up huge biomass, of about 13 million tons annually, enough biomass to replace fossil fuel energy sources. Currently, the waste is mainly left on the fields because it is seen as worthless and taking it in would incur losses for farmers. However, if the biomass is transformed into methane gas, it can be used for heat or electricity generation, saving energy companies money in energy expenditure.