Green thumbs know that nothing is ever truly useless. You can use every waste material in one capacity or the other, and that extends to rice. So if you have a batch of leftover cooked or uncooked rice and have no idea what to do with it, a good place to start will be to consider the compost bin.
Composting is an excellent way to provide your plants and soil with the required nutrients. Of course, you can consider fertilizers, but they’re not always safe for your plants. Also, you don’t know which is completely organic, despite the claims by the manufacturer.
Besides, nothing defeats an entirely natural fertilizer, and you can achieve that with no charges in your garden. All you need is your kitchen waste and a few garden supplies. Now, the question of composting rice arises, and that’s what this blog post will answer. So, please read on to find out the type of rice you can compost, its biodegradability, and how to compost it.
Can You Compost Rice?
Compostable material is any material that will give in to the activity of microorganisms, weather conditions, and of course, moisture. Now, it’ll not just break down, but it’ll break down fast.
Typically, however, compostable materials are kitchen waste like vegetable matter, leftover food, and any other decomposable waste that won’t have a pungent decay smell. Foods like meat, fish, bacon oil and grease should never go in a compost bin because they can attract rodents.
However, rice is a suitable food item. It’s also one of the most consumed foods in the US, with a consumption rate of about 5 million tons yearly. But, of course, that would also mean a lot of it would get thrown out
It’s not unusual to cook too much and forget to preserve or even preserve it for so long that you have no desire to eat it anymore. So, how can you dispose of it?
Well, rice is a food item, which makes it an excellent compost material. That way, it can provide nutrients for you and also your plants and soil. However, there’s a caveat.
Rice can harbor bacteria in your compost pile, and in this case, it’s not necessarily the type of bacteria you want. The bacteria may spread to your soil and home-grown plants if you use the compost materials to fertilize your plants.
Another problem with composting cooked rice is that it could attract rodents like rats and insects, and they can dig up your compost pile and wreak havoc in your garden. In addition, you don’t want these pests to set their sights on your garden – they’ll certainly go beyond your compost pile and destroy the rest of your plants.
Finally, the rice kernels can develop clumps in the compost pile, and of course, these clumps can disrupt aerobic composition.
Overall, you can compost rice, but you may have to deal with a few complications. However, your leftover or fresh rice will serve your plants and soil properly with the right methods.
Can You Put Cooked Rice in a Compost Pile?
Rice is one of the pantry staple foods that’s heavy and sticky when you cook it. That’s perhaps what makes it such a great meal. It certainly isn’t uncommon to be left with a large batch of leftover rice.
You may have overcooked for one reason or the other and forgotten to freeze the leftovers. So, you could consider composting it to prevent it from wasting entirely.
However, cooked rice is a tricky material to compost. We’ve all had experiences with mushy rice, which happens when you cook too much in a single container. Well, that applies to composting rice too.
If you put a chunk of rice in your compost pile, it could result in an anaerobic condition. This condition occurs when there’s little to no oxygen in your compost pile. Of course, we all know how important oxygen is to a compost pile.
Aside from aiding the decomposition process, an anaerobic condition can result in a sticky and stinky mess. The rice won’t be able to decompose properly, and neither will the other materials underneath it. Oxygen is essential to prevent pungent smells and propagate the growth of the right amount of microorganisms in the compost pit.
Well, another problem with composting cooked rice is that harmful bacteria may develop in your pile if the rice doesn’t decompose properly. But again, it needs all the right conditions, and oxygen seems to be heavily missing in this regard.
Cooked rice may also attract some rodents with its aroma, that is until it begins to decay properly. So, these rodents may scatter your compost pile in their search for a welcoming aroma.
To compost cooked rice properly, you’ll have to add it to a hot compost or covered bin to speed up the process and skip the composition of harmful bacteria and the attraction of rodents.
In addition, it may be best to put small amounts of cooked rice in the compost pile because large chunks will create an anaerobic condition. For example, you could spread little amounts sparsely in different parts of your hot compost pile. `
That way, even if an anaerobic condition is created, it won’t affect the remaining parts of your compost pile.
Can You Compost Uncooked Rice?
Now, this is another tricky compostable material. Yes, you can compost uncooked rice, but again, you must be ready to deal with a few challenges.
For one, uncooked rice is a staple food and a grain at that. It’s pretty solid too, which means it’ll take a significant amount of time for it to break down. The lack of moisture also doesn’t help matters.
However, there are other solid and uncooked foods you can compost, so this may not be a problem. But of course, you must be prepared to wait!
Another tricky one is that the uncooked rice could contact fats, oils, meat, and other flavors in the compost bin, which could attract pests. However, a good compost pile certainly doesn’t contain these foods, so it’s best to leave them out of yours.
Under the right conditions, composting uncooked rice is entirely achievable, and we’ll show you how to do it in subsequent sections. But first, let’s discuss how biodegradable rice is.
Is Rice Biodegradable?
When determining if a material is biodegradable or not, you need to consider how fast said material breaks down and if it breaks down at all. Under the right conditions – The presence of moisture, oxygen, heat, and microbes, a biodegradable material will break down quickly.
Now, is rice biodegradable? Well, it depends. Let’s deal with cooked rice first. You see, cooked rice will biodegrade pretty fast, with sufficient oxygen, heat, and microbes. It already has enough moisture, so there’s no problem in that regard.
However, the caveat is that the biodegrading cooked rice will attract unhealthy bacteria if it doesn’t decompose fast. It could also attract pests, but you could prevent that by adding white lime before decomposing it.
On the other hand, uncooked rice is also biodegradable, and it’ll take about 3 months for it to occur. Of course, it could be longer, but it depends on the existing conditions. Uncooked rice lacks moisture, so it’ll certainly take much longer to decompose than cooked rice. However, you can be assured that it won’t attract the bacteria cooked rice would.
Best Way to Compost Rice
Since you already know all the challenges involved in composting rice, if you still want to go ahead, then we’ve got you. There are ways around composting cooked and uncooked rice, and we’ll delve into them now. Enjoy!
1. Hot Compost
With a temperature of 150 to 160° F, you can break down materials pretty fast. It also kills harmful bacteria that could grow on your compost material. So, hot composting is a method that applies this temperature to compost piles.
Now, you can use this bin to compost cooked rice. It’s best to bury it right at the center of the hot compost pile to eliminate the risks of growing harmful bacteria. Vermin won’t be able to access the hot compost too, and by the time it cools down, the entire thing would have decomposed.
However, it can be a bit challenging also to maintain a hot compost pile. It requires attention, and you have to take extra caution regarding some details. That’s why a hot compost pile is usually difficult for composting newbies to handle.
But again, the more time you dedicate to it, the better you’ll become.
2. Hydrated White Lime
Adding hydrated white lime to your compost bin is beneficial for several reasons. First, it neutralizes acids or reduces acidity levels in compost materials. That elicits a fast decomposition process, and you can take advantage of it for cooked and uncooked rice.
Second, it’ll speed up the rate at which your uncooked rice biodegrades while also reducing its acidic levels. It’s also excellent for repelling pests from your compost pile.
3. Rodent-Proof Bin
Another option is to use a rodent-proof bin. Since cooked rice tends to attract rodents, especially when it comes in contact with oils, fats, and meats, the bin’s cover will keep them out.
Additionally, the cover of the bin will keep the rotting smell out. So, it’ll even be impossible for the rodents to catch a whiff of it. It’s best to go for a suspended bin – that way; there are absolutely no chances of rodents getting to your compost materials.
4. Worm Bin
Another alternative will be to use a worm bin. Worms love cooked rice, which means that they’ll consume it all before it has the chance to develop harmful bacteria. However, it’s best to use only plain, white rice because of the smell sauces can release.
If your rice has some sauce on it, you could try rinsing it off before putting it in the worm bin. The worms will consume it fast, but it’s best to avoid overfeeding them. This means that the recommended quantity should go in the bin every two to three days, irrespective of your rice quantity.
Alternatively, you could also put uncooked rice in there. Worms love that too and will devour it at a pretty fast rate. This is an excellent alternative to traditional composting methods. You don’t have to worry about rice clumps forming or harmful bacteria infesting your compost materials.
Rice has one of the highest production and consumption rates in the world. But, of course, that also means that there’ll certainly be a lot of leftovers, both cooked and uncooked.
Instead of leaving them to waste, we could always compost them. Now, although it’s tricky, you can do it. In this article, we’ve provided everything you need to compost cooked and uncooked rice properly. We hope these tips come in handy for future composting activities.