Anyone who cooks rice usually has some leftover and it can sit uneaten in your refrigerator for months. So, what do you do with the extra rice? Can you compost rice?
Composting rice, whether it is raw or cooked, is a little complicated. You can compost rice, but it’s not always a good idea. Beginner composters may want to hold off.
Putting rice in compost can attract rodents and other unwanted pests.
It is easier to throw the unused rice away, but with a little effort, it can also safely go into your compost pile.
Why You May Not Want to Compost Rice
You can run into problems composting uncooked and cooked rice that include bringing pests into your yard.
Cooked rice tends to form a heavy, sticky clump that can block oxygen when added to the compost. Without airflow, the brown and green materials can’t break down. Airflow is also necessary for the growth of healthy bacteria and microorganisms, and to minimize any odors coming from the compost.
Uncooked rice makes an attractive home to pests and rodents that burrow under the small grains. Not only does it provide a safe nesting place, but the rodents also have a steady food supply.
Even though you can run into some composting problems, it may still be worth the time and effort.
Does Rice Go in the Brown or Green Composting Layer?
A healthy compost pile has alternating brown and green layers of organic materials. The type of material determines which layer it goes in.
Green layers contain nitrogen-rich materials like kitchen scraps and plant materials. Brown layers are where you place your carbon-rich materials.
One way to help you determine if something is green or brown is by the moisture content. Wetter items are green, while drier ones are typically brown. So, where does rice go in compost? It depends on if the grains are cooked or raw.
Uncooked rice lacks moisture and goes into the brown compost layer. Cooked rice contains moisture and is considered a green composting material.
A healthy compost pile uses a 3-to-1 ratio of carbon and nitrogen.
Three parts carbon to one part nitrogen. The ratio ensures the microorganisms have the food they need to thrive. So, be careful how much rice you add to compost. It’s best to only put in a little bit at a time.
The right ratio of carbon and nitrogen is also vital for your garden’s health.
How to Compost Rice
Composting rice starts with a healthy, mature pile. You also want to avoid composting rice with sauces, butter, or heavy seasoning. It can create foul odors and bring pests to your yard.
While you don’t want to put rice in young compost piles, there are some types you can.
Hot Compost Pile
Anyone with a mature pile can turn it into hot compost. It’s not difficult, but it does take a little time and effort.
A hot compost pile is active and healthy. It is home to beneficial bacteria that thrive in warm temperatures, commonly known as thermophiles.
They need temperatures around 104 degrees Fahrenheit and higher to survive and thrive.
These higher temperatures, combined with the bacteria, effectively break down organic materials faster than with cold composting.
Hot compost is created when the pile is frequently aerated, and continuously fed an even mix of green and brown materials.
Speeding up decomposition helps prevent the common issues that can occur with composting cooked and uncooked rice.
Closed Compost Bin
Covered composting bins are great for indoor and outdoor use. The lids keep pests away and odors in. It may take several months for the rice to break down, but it is an easy way to compost rice.
If you are wondering if you can put rice in vermicompost, the answer is yes. Your worms will enjoy the treat, especially cooked rice. You can also add uncooked rice to compost.
A good tip is to only add a little rice each time. Your worms can only eat so much, and you don’t want bacteria to form on the leftover grains.
Community Composting Centers
Some neighborhoods have composting programs. You bring your compostable materials, like cooked rice to the facility. It’s a great option for people without composting piles. It also takes care of any potential problems you may experience with pests.
Your local government webpage should have information on any local composting programs.
Don’t Forget to Aerate the Compost After Adding Rice
You can compost cooked rice and avoid the common problems by aerating the pile. It is a crucial step in hot composting.
Aerating your compost prevents cooked rice from clumping and blocking airflow. It also keeps pests from nesting in uncooked rice. Best of all, aerating compost speeds up the decomposition process.
Every time you add materials to the compost, aerating the pile is the next step. You also want to repeat the process every three or four days for a few weeks.
Can You Compost Rice Cakes?
Rice cakes are a popular snack and can also be turned into a meal. Like other food items, rice cakes can turn stale or develop mold. When this happens, most people head for the trash can.
Did you know rice cakes are compostable? Like rice grains, the cakes can go into your compost.
It’s just as easy as composting rice and you follow the same steps, with one addition. You want to crush the hard cakes into small pieces. It prevents all of the problems you can encounter composting rice.
Do not put flavored rice cakes in compost. Stick with only composting the plain varieties.
You can compost rice. It doesn’t matter if the grains are cooked or uncooked, they can go into mature compost.
Any flavored or seasoned rice stays out of the compost. It can disrupt the beneficial bacteria and attract pests.
Something else to remember, you can compost both white and brown rice using the same process.