Hot Compost: You Can Cook With It

You'll need a little patience, but at 155-165 degrees a hot compost pile is hot enough to cook meat and eggs very slowly.

| January/February 1980

One evening—in order to preserve two gallons of fresh milk while I was temporarily without refrigeration—I set about to sour the liquid into yogurt. First, I heated the milk to kill most of the bacteria. Then, when it had cooled down to around 105°F, I inoculated the "moo juice" with store-bought yogurt.

However, just as I reached that point in the yogurt-making process, I was unexpectedly invited out to dinner. In order not to waste the milk (or pass up the invitation), I had to locate a warm spot for my pail ... and remembered some half-buried mental note on how the ancient Chinese had made a practice of cooking eggs in compost.

Luckily, the pile of future garden helper that I had built months earlier was spewing out quite a bit of steam, so I stashed the airtight container in the hot compost ... just (I thought) until I could get back home and rig up my usual light bulb and ice chest incubator. As it turned out, however, I didn't return until quite late ... and decided the pail could stay where it was till morning.

And Guess What!

When I lifted the lid the next day, I found ... not yogurt, but cheese! Perhaps the milk wasn't heated up enough in the first place ... or maybe the humus heap was too hot. At any rate, a fine cheese curd had formed.

Since that first attempt, I've learned to probe carefully in the warm "working" mound until I find a spot with just the right warmth to create successful compost yogurt ... a dish that has become a regular part of my diet!

For my second experiment, I decided to try to cook a nice fresh egg ... safely enclosed in a plastic bag. I dug down into the decaying matter until I said "ouch" when I grabbed a hot handful, dropped in the sack with a rope attached, and covered it over again.

1/20/2009 7:36:05 AM

so many great articles,I first experimented with compost heat in the 70's for water now in 09 i am about to move to the top of a mountain in Ky where I plan to heat house and greenhouse as well as water from compost heat and methane, thanks in a large way to M.E.N. articles I will be able to live very green in a very cold climate. I have cooked in the compost pile several times,but with dry beans or meats i preheated them on stove and then placed them in the pile to slow cook all day, i used thick covered clay pots i got in Mexico, they add wonderful flavor to beans and the mass holds heat.

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