Get to Know the Kitchen Composter

by Sandy Boyd on June 11, 2013

Everybody is composting these days. It’s a great green practice that helps keep organic waste out of the land-fills while adding important nutrients to your local soil.

Once you get in the habit of composting your kitchen waste, it becomes second-nature and no difficulty at all. Not yet doing any kitchen composting? You can start today, so find out how to do it right.

What is Kitchen Composting?
First of all, what exactly am I talking about? When I talk about kitchen composters, I don’t mean a little bucket to hold your scraps until you dump them out in the outside bin.

This is an actual unit where you can do all the composting right in your kitchen. It may not be necessary if you have a big outdoor space with a full-size compost bin, but these units are a fabulous idea for apartments or anyone with a really small yard.

There are many ways to compost in the kitchen, but these days there are compact electrical units that really streamline the process and speed everything up.

What Goes In
The first thing you need to understand is the wide range of things that can go in your kitchen composter. It can take a lot more than your usual potato peels and apple cores, so make sure you’re making full use of your composter. Here is a brief list:

  • Any type of fruit or vegetable waste (either raw or cooked)
  • Egg shells
  • Used coffee grounds
  • Leftover pasta
  • Stale bread and crusts
  • Used tea bags
  • Try to avoid meat or dairy products

How To Use It
Not all kitchen composters work exactly the same way. The typical modern design has a large chamber in the top for your incoming organic scraps, and a smaller drawer underneath for the finished compost. Depending on the unit, it may use power to produce heat and oxygen aeration (stirring) for faster composting, which is the big trick when doing this right in the kitchen. Your scraps and waste will come out as finished compost in as little as two weeks.

Naturemill kitchen composter unit

One model of NatureMill kitchen composter

The lid seals on tight and the constant air flow keeps the odors down. In fact, these types of composters should produce no smells at all. They’re fairly small and should fit under the counter in a cabinet, much like a recycling bin does. If your composter has an aerator or stirring function, there may be some noise while it’s running.

All you need to do is add your waste as you need to, and empty it when there is enough finished compost. That’s about it.

Where to Get One
These gadgets are still pretty new and you may have to shop around a bit to find the one you want. Look for manufacturers like NatureMill for your best choices. They have several models and are improving their designs all the time. Other companies are following suit, and more options should be hitting the eco-marketplace in the near future.

Of course, you don’t need a complicated kitchen composter if you want to keep it a little more simple. Indoor vermicomposters have been around for years, and if you don’t mind deal with a tub of worms, it might be an option for you. Your scraps are composted much quicker thanks to a population of earthworms kept in your composter. As long as you keep the bin damp, your worms will live happily while eating up your kitchen waste.

There are also some “kitchen composters” that are just large buckets to hold your decomposing scraps. They can work fine but don’t really offer any unique features that make them better than using an actual bucket. Don’t get me wrong, they will do the job and allow you to do a little indoor composting. You just don’t need to buy a special unit in this case.

At any rate, these types of indoor composters are gaining interest in the world of apartment dwellers and this little devices may become as common as the microwave in the future.

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