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  • Writer's pictureThe Collected Seed

Safe or Not Safe to Compost: Pantry Purge Edition

As a gardener, I don't spring clean. I New Year's clean.

It's too cold to be outside, and it's still a little too soon to be starting seeds. Let's be honest. When spring arrives, there will be no keeping me indoors unless the weather is absolutely miserable. Even then, there will be lots to do to prep for when I can get back into the garden.

That's why, once the Christmas decorations are in the attic, I go digging into the nooks and crannies of closets, cabinets, and other storage areas around my house. It's time to tidy up in an effort to feel less guilty for mostly neglecting housework during "spring cleaning season."

Eventually, I end up in the pantry where I always find a stash of something that is expired, even though it doesn't seem like it's been in there that long!

Why does this stuff expire this fast!?!

Or maybe time just goes by that fast. Either way, I can count on finding some stuff that's far enough past its expiration date that I'm not going to tempt it.

When I catch items just before their expiration, I offer them up to a food bank or post them in a local give-it-away group on Facebook.

Once the expiration has passed though, the food cannot be donated but it is still safe to compost. Well, most of it is.

Here's my list of what you can compost and what should hit the curb.

Safe to Compost

  • Dried beans

  • Pasta

  • Cornmeal

  • Starches (corn, potato, etc)

  • Unsalted nuts & seeds

  • Cereal

  • Oatmeal

  • Bread

  • Tortillas

  • Herbs (no salty spice blends)

  • Instant potatoes/potato flakes

  • Canned fruits

  • Bread crumbs

  • Rice (unseasoned)

Don't Compost These:

  • Crackers (too salty)

  • Potato chips (too salty)

  • Canned vegetables (too salty and preservatives that may kill good bacteria)

  • Salted nuts (too salty)

  • Oils & salad dressing (creates anaerobic conditions)

  • Vinegars (too acidic and may kill good bacteria)

  • Unused coffee grounds (too acidic)

  • Seasoned rice blends (ex: Rice-A-Roni)

There you have it! A great way to get a second life out of items that sat too long in the cupboard.

Not sure about something in your pantry? Leave a question in the comments or hit me up on Instagram.

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