Can You Compost Rice?

Last Updated on March 19, 2021 by Grow with Bovees

If you’ve prepared plenty of rice for a dinner party and have loads leftover and don’t know what to do with it, you may be wondering if you can compost the rice. Rice is compostable and while rice is organic matter and both uncooked, as well as cooked rice, will break down in the compost bin, it can still be tricky to accomplish.

And, it is recommended to compost rice at home only if you are an experienced composter because uncooked rice can attract pests, while cooked rice can breed harmful bacteria. But if you still want to go ahead and compost rice, then in our article we will discuss how to succeed without having many problems.

Can Cooked Rice Be Composted?

When added to a compost pile, cooked rice will decompose. As with other types of food, cooked rice that has been steamed or boiled will rot quickly and go through the same rotting and molding stages as other foods. However, if the rice does not break down quickly, it will turn into a breeding ground for harmful bacteria.

And, if the cooked rice contains oil, sauces, etc., then you will have the additional problem of unwelcome visitors like rodents, insects, etc. to your compost heap. While pests may not be such a deal-breaker, hazardous bacteria may be the key reason why most people prefer to avoid composting cooked rice.  

Is Cooked Rice “Green” or “Brown” Material?

If you consider the nutritional value of rice, it is mainly a carb with some amount of protein. Some people consider rice as green material; however, there is not sufficient nitrate to categorize rice as green. Since rice is high carb with some nitrate content, it is better to consider it as a balanced food as far as composting is concerned.

This means that if you only had cooked rice, you can convert it to compost without the need to add anything else to it. However, adding hydrated white lime to the pile can help to reduce the chance of any acidity occurring while the rice decomposes.

Can Uncooked Rice Be Composted?

Adding uncooked rice to the compost heap will attract rodents and insects. However, you won’t have any problems adding uncooked rice into the compost if you have a hot pile. If you are concerned about rodents, then it is advisable not to compost raw rice or you can add hydrated white lime to the compost bin, which can help to prevent rodents. Tiny amounts of rice may be fine; however, you must take care not to overdo it and add large quantities, which could mean trouble.

Why You Should Compost Rice?

Rice is organic material and if you already have a compost pile, then you may feel that it is a waste to put it into the trash instead of composting it. And, if you are a regular composter, then you may feel that you would like to compost as much as possible without throwing the stuff away, including rice.

Why You Shouldn’t Add Rice To Your Compost Heap

The grains of rice are quite small and they can become quite sticky when wet, which can cause them to clump together when put into the compost pile. The rice can become anaerobic, which turns it into an unpleasant, smelly pile.

If you do manage to prevent the rice from clumping together, as we discussed earlier, you can still have issues with harmful bacteria, pests, and insects. So, if you’re an inexperienced composter, you may find that by adding rice to your compost pile, you’re doing more harm than good.

So, How to Compost Rice?

If you choose that you don’t want to waste the leftover rice and want to compost it, then here are a few useful tips of how you can do it.

Hot Composting

This is essentially a composting method where the temperature of the compost pile can go up to 150°F to 160°F. At this temperature, the organic materials in the composting pile break down very fast and all the dangerous bacteria are killed. It’s important to keep the compost aerated with plenty of oxygen.

So, it is recommended that you place the rice in the middle of the hot compost pile. This helps to kill any harmful bacteria and other pathogens.

Also, pests avoid hot compost heaps and as the compost pile begins cooling down, all the food materials are decomposed. However, hot composting needs proper maintenance and can be rather difficult if you’re an amateur composter.

Using a Pest-Proof Compost Bin

If you’re unable to use the hot process or don’t have a large yard to keep the compost pile away far from the house, then the best alternative is to purchase a rodent or pest-proof bin. These are essentially enclosed bins that help to keep the pests out of your compost and unpleasant odors in.

Use a Compost Tumbler

A homemade tumbler

You can use a compost tumbler with two chambers which will allow you to have a continuous supply of compost. And, since the tumbler is raised above the ground, pests like rodents will find it difficult to reach it. Many items can be composted in a compost tumbler, including coffee filters, bread, banana peels, and citrus peels, they are a very worthwhile investment.

Using a compost tumbler will help the entire process of composting much better, and you will end up with a better product than even the best store-bought compost in a bag. Agitating the heap regularly will ensure that the compost pile gets plenty of air. Rotating the compost tumbler once every 2-3 weeks is sufficient to agitate the contents properly.

Can Rice Be Added to a Worm Bin?

Worms will help with compostable items.

Adding rice to a worm bin is a great idea because worms love to eat rice and will consume it before the rice gets spoilt or grows any harmful bacteria. You can add uncooked or cooked rice to the worm bin, as long as it is plain because rice with oil or sauces can get rancid very fast in the bin and become very smelly.

If the rice has any sauce, oil or salt then make sure to wash the rice before putting it into the worm bin. The worms consume rice pretty quickly, however, it is best to feed them quantity sufficient for 2-3 days. If there is a lot of rice, then it is recommended that you freeze this until you can add more rice to the bin.

In conclusion, the options of what to do with leftover rice are limited. The best option is to eat as much as you can and consume the leftovers within a day. Rice has the risk of attracting bacteria or critters and the best option is to probably throw out the rice. However, if you don’t want to do that, then you can use the steps we have discussed in our article and put the rice to good use, and make compost for your garden.

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