Can You Compost Bread? (2 Effective Methods, Benefits & Tips)

When people think of composting food scraps, they mostly consider fruit and vegetable waste and food waste that is degradable. But there’s another popular food you eat almost every day that is biodegradable, but you may not have considered composting. Yes! We’re discussing bread which is a major part of our breakfast. So can you really compost bread? If yes, how so? Let’s find out.

Yes, bread is compostable as it is soft food that breaks down quickly by absorbing excess moisture. It keeps the compost pile balanced and adds organic matter to your soil. It’s best to bury bread deep in the compost bin and cover it with brown materials to keep pests at bay.

How To Compost Bread?

Composting bread is a great way to reduce food waste and get nutrient-rich organic matter for the soil. But bread may invite pests and bugs, so you need to be careful and take precautions while composting them.

Bread can be composted by the anaerobic method in bokashi bins or through the hot composting method in compost bins or tumblers. It also decomposes through the cold composting method but takes longer to break down.

Using a bokashi bin or compost tumblers is a great way to get rid of pests. However, if you already have a compost bin or pile set up in your garden and plan to add bread to it, worry not. Follow the below-mentioned steps to compost bread in your compost pile.

Bread With Other Organic Food Waste

Step 1. Cut the Bread into Smaller Pieces

Chopping the bread into smaller pieces will help aid the decomposition process. You might also soak the bread before adding it to the compost pile. This will quickly disintegrate your bread and help the composting creatures break it down.

Step 2. Add the Bread Scraps to the Center of the Compost Pile

Dig a hole in your compost pile using a stick or pitchfork and add the bread pieces in the center. Now cover them with other brown materials. This will generate good heat and keep the animals and insects at bay.

Step 3. Add a Layer of Soil or Manure at the Top of the Pile

To further expedite the process of decomposition, you can seal your compost pile with a layer of manure or soil. This will also give structure to your compost.

Step 4. Aerate the Pile

Remember to turn your pile to aerate it. Aeration helps distribute oxygen equally in the compost bin so the microbes can work joyfully on the bread crumbs and other food waste.

Bokashi Method of Composting Bread

Bokashi composting is the best method to compost bread. The useful bacteria in bokashi composting will break down bread quickly, and when the fermented waste is buried in your garden or compost heap for further decomposition, it won’t release any odor or invite pests.

Moreover, in bokashi buckets, you can also add fresh bread as well as stale and moldy bread. Cooked food, baked goods, dairy products, pasta, and other moldy food can also go in bokashi bins.

Bokashi Bran for Bokashi Composting of Cherry Pits

Now let us see how we can compost bread through bokashi buckets.

Step 1. Break the Bread into Small Chunks

Collect the stale and moldy bread from your fridge and kitchen and break them into small pieces.

Step 2. Set Up your Bokashi Bin

Get a bokashi bucket and bran from a gardening store or online and place it in your kitchen or backyard where there is no direct sunlight.

Step 3. Add Bread to Your Bokashi Bin

Add all the bread pieces and other bread products you have collected along with the kitchen scraps like fruit and vegetable waste, tea bags, eggshells, fish, and chicken bones to your bokashi bin. Don’t forget to chop the food waste before tossing them in.

Step 4. Add Bokashi Bran

Now it’s time to add a firm layer of bokashi bran. The bran contains active microbes and acts as an inoculant for fermentation. Press the food materials to remove the air pockets and close the lid. (Note that your food will only ferment in your bokashi bins. You then need to add this fermented waste to your compost bin to get the finished compost).

Step 5. Drain the Liquid

Bokashi buckets also give liquid fertilizer along with fermented food, which can be used for plants once diluted. You can collect this liquid every 1-2 days.

Step 6. Bury or Compost the Leftover Material

Fermentation of bread scraps and other food waste will be completed within two weeks. Then, collect the pre-compost from the bokashi bins and add it to your compost pile. After the complete decomposition, the finished compost will be ready in around two weeks.

Composting Bread Through Tumbler

Composting in tumblers is another great way of composting bread. The closed containers keep the pests at bay and keep the temperature high, helping the bread break down expeditiously.

Composting With Tumbler

Here is a step-by-step guide to composting bread using compost tumblers:

Step 1. Cut the Bread into Small Pieces

When the bread is broken into smaller pieces, its surface area increases, making it easy for the composting microbes to work on. Also, you can soak the bread to hasten the decomposition process.

Step 2. Set Up Your Compost Tumbler

Get your compost tumbler online or from the market and place it in a shady part of your garden.

Step 3. Collect Green and Brown Materials

Gather other green materials like grass clippings, fruit rinds, vegetable peels, and other kitchen scraps you want to compost along with bread and cut them into smaller pieces.

Also, collect some brown materials like wood shavings, shredded paper, shredded cardboard, wood chips, paper towel, sawdust, or any other yard waste.

Remember, you need to balance brown and green material as they contain Carbon and Nitrogen, respectively. It is recommended to add one portion of Nitrogen and two portions of Carbon materials to make a nice balance. (When adding green materials, remember your bread also contains Nitrogen, and you need to segregate waste accordingly)

Step 4. Batch Your Composting Materials

Mix the composting materials and add them to the compost tumbler. It is best to add composting materials batch-wise as the heat may escape if you start adding each time you collect some waste. So fill your compost tumbler until it is 80% full. Now give it a quick mix and close the lid.

Step 5. Turn the Tumbler Every 3-4 Days

Turning helps mix the materials well and generates heat inside the tumbler. As this is a hot composting method, bacteria respond well to increased heat. Turning the tumbler will also aid in aeration and speed up the cooking process.

While composting bread in tumblers, you will get the finished compost within 2-3 weeks, and you can use it in your garden beds to fertilize the soil.

Benefits of Composting Bread

According to Statista, food waste accounts for an estimated 9% of global food system greenhouse gas emissions, which in 2015 totaled 17.9 billion metric tons of CO2 equivalent. So minimizing the food waste is the need of the hour.

Since fresh bread is among the most consumed foods globally, we need to consider composting it when it turns stale or moldy rather than sending it to landfills. This indeed will help minimize food waste and protect the earth.

Still confused about whether to compost bread or not? Well, below listed are some benefits that will convince you to compost bread.

A Pile Of Organic Food Waste
  • Bread breaks down quickly in your compost pile, making them an excellent composting ingredient.
  • Composting bread is environmentally friendly. By this, you can reduce your carbon footprint.
  • Bread is a nitrogen source and provides proteins and amino acids to the compost and helps in plant growth.
  • Compost made of bread helps to maintain soil moisture.
  • Bread soaks up excess moisture in the compost pile and helps to maintain a good balance.
  • Composting bread is easy and saves you from buying costly fertilizers.

Additional Tips for Composting Bread

Bread is a source of carbohydrates and might attract rodents and insects to the compost pile more often. While the pests may not cause any significant harm to your compost, it isn’t easy to manage them once they start breeding. So it is crucial to take a few measures while composting bread.

Here are a few tips you need to follow while composting bread:

  • Only compost plain bread. The bread containing any sugary dressings like jam, sauce, cream, or any desserts like sweet buns is not suitable for your compost.
  • Look for any plastic coverings sticking to the bread and avoid tossing them into the compost bin.
  • Break the bread into small pieces before adding them to the compost bin.
  • Mix the bread with other composting materials to balance the nutrients in the finished compost.
  • Add small quantities of bread scraps to your compost pile.
  • Use a compost bin with a lid to help reduce foul odor and keep the pests away.
  • If composting openly in a compost pile, bury the bread in the middle of your compost heap to prevent the pests from identifying them.
  • Bread may absorb water from the compost and make it dry. To avoid this, soak the bread before adding it to the compost pile. The bread will act as a sponge, retain moisture, and break down quickly.
  • Add manure or garden soil on top of your composting materials to escalate the composting process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I put moldy bread in compost?

Yes, moldy bread can be composted as the mold is the natural part of decomposition and indicates that the fungus has already started its action. So adding moldy bread to your compost will accelerate the composting process.

How long does bread take to decompose?

Bread is among the quickest foods to decompose. They take up to 2-3 weeks or less to decompose under ideal conditions. Remember to add them in small chunks and place them in the center of your compost pile to carry the action quickly.

Can you add bread to your worm bins?

It’s not harmful to add stale bread to the wormery if they are in small amounts. But be careful while adding moldy bread to your worm bins. Though worms love to eat mold fungus, it might harm the worms. So it’s better to add the bread in moderation. Also, add other food scraps to your worm bin along with bread to maintain the balance and keep the worms active and healthy.

Will bread attract pests?

Composting bread may attract pests like rodents, insects, birds, and sometimes animals. So it is better to bury them deep in the compost pile and cover them with brown materials to keep the pests away.

Is bread green or brown compost?

Bread is rich in Nitrogen and is considered a green material for composting. So whenever you compost bread, remember one-third of your composting materials should be green materials, and the rest should be Carbon-rich materials. So mix the bread with other brown and green scraps for the perfect balance.

What is the best type of bread to compost?

Moldy bread and stale bread are considered the best type of bread to compost. Since moldy bread indicates that decomposition has already started, they are the easiest and quickest to compost.

Is dairy-based bread good for compost?

Dairy-based bread may contain butter, milk, and cheese that has a lot of fat and produce foul odors. This will impede decomposition and may attract scavengers. So it is ideal to avoid putting any bread containing dairy in traditional composting methods. However, this cannot be true in the case of bokashi composting, as dairy products can go well in bokashi bins.

Can you compost bread crumbs?

Yes, you can compost bread crumbs. They are good to go to your compost bin as they are broken pieces of bread.

Can you compost bread dough?

Yes, like bread, the dough is also compostable. But it is prone to pest attack as it contains starch. So remember, you need to bury the dough in the middle of your compost pile and cover it with brown materials.

Can you compost pasta?

Pasta is an excellent composting material when it is plain, raw, and uncooked. However, avoid adding pasta made with sauce and cream as it contains dairy and attracts rodents and insects. Also, add the pasta in moderation and bury them inside the compost heap for best results.

Contrary to many myths, bread is an excellent source of compost and adds organic matter to your soil. Cut them into pieces and bury them deep in the compost pile, and you’re good to go. You can also use compost tumblers or bokashi bins to compost bread to keep the pests away.

So what are you waiting for? If you wonder what to do with the stale bread or moldy bread lying in the corner of your kitchen, do not have a second thought. Just toss them into your compost bin and see them turn into nutrient-rich brown humus for your plants.

And if you are wondering what to do with the eggshells piled up in your kitchen garbage bin, hop on to our detailed guide to learn how to compost eggshells.