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.

  • 061 cooking with compost
    The author discovered by accident that he could used his hot compost pile as a slow cooker.

  • 061 cooking with compost

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.



Fall 2021!

Put your DIY skills to the test throughout November. We’re mixing full meal recipes in jars, crafting with flowers, backyard composting, cultivating mushrooms, and more!


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