Can You Compost Bread? Are Stale and Mold Safe?

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Can you compost bread? Can you compost stale or moldy bread?

Bread is a staple food in the United States. Millions of Americans consume bread every day. Unfortunately, many people throw out their stale bread, because they don’t think about composting bread.

If you don’t already compost, then you should start composting now. There are lots of benefits to composting, including reducing food waste, making nutrients available to plants, helping to break down organic matter, improving soil quality, and much more.

This article will cover the things to consider before you compost bread, how to compost bread and other food scraps.

Can You Compost Bread?

Yes, you can compost bread, but there are some things to keep in mind as many gardeners will have differing opinions on whether you can compost bread.

On the face of it, bread is an organic material that will decompose, so it can be composted. Any type of bread can be composted. If you’re not going to eat it, you may as well compost it for the compost organisms. 

When it comes to bread freshness, it’s best not to compost fresh bread. It’s best to compost bread that’s already decomposing, so stale and moldy bread are better. 

However, some gardeners won’t compost any cooked food, including bread, as it will attract scavengers and pests. This is doubly true if the bread has spreads or toppings, such as peanut butter, cream cheese, or jelly.

Pests are only really going to be an issue if you have an open compost pile. There are plenty of composting systems that will accommodate any bread product.

If you have an enclosed compost bin, you shouldn’t have any problems with pests, but bear in mind that mice can get through some tiny holes! That being said, if you mix a little bread in the middle of your compost, you don’t have to worry.

Some systems that you can use to compost bread effectively include EMO (Effective MicroOrganisim) composting like the bokashi system, although this system does have some drawbacks.

The best method for composting foods that may attract pests is the compot system, otherwise known as combination composting.

For more information about these various methods, see my other article on Types of Composting Methods.

Can You Compost Stale Bread?

Stale bread is better to compost than fresh bread, as the decomposition process has already started on the bread.

While you can add fresh bread to your compost heap, it is better to wait until it is no longer edible.

Stale bread is perfectly safe, and as long as there is no mold on it, it is even safe to eat – although it won’t taste as good as fresh bread!

Always wait until your bread is at least stale before composting it.

Can You Compost Moldy Bread?

Yes! As mentioned previously, it is better to wait until your bread has started to break down before adding it to your compost heap.

The best time to add bread to your compost pile is when your bread has gone moldy. Mold is very beneficial to the composting process when mixed in properly.

Mold is a natural part of the decomposition process, and you will often find it in your compost on kitchen scraps already in the pile. It is nothing to worry about and not harmful because organic compost material is supposed to decompose.

You can keep mold in check by regularly mixing and turning your compost.

How to Compost Bread

There is some debate about whether bread is a green or brown material, but it is generally considered a green material as it’s a source of nitrogen content.

Keep this in mind when adding bread to the compost pile, so you can keep your mix of greens to browns at 50:50. It will also help to maintain a healthy balance of the carbon to nitrogen ratio. 

To compost bread correctly, you should break it into smaller pieces of bread to aid decomposition and mix it with other types of food waste, like fruit and vegetable scraps.

If you have an open composter, make sure you add it to the center of the pile and ensure it is well-covered to deter scavengers. Add brown material layer that’s higher in carbon like dry leaves or sawdust to pair with the high nitrogen from the bread. 

You should also check the ingredients of the bread product before you compost it to be sure there is no dairy in it. Dairy products should not be composted as they can produce foul smells.

Many commercially produced bread can contain milk, so always check the label if you plan to compost it. Keep this in mind if your bread has any spread that originates from dariy products, like butter or cheese.

If your bread has jam, jelly, or hummus, then adding it will be fine. Try to avoid anything too oily and oily spreads like margarine.  

Also, remember only to add bread that is stale or moldy, it will be better for your compost, and if your bread is fresh, it’s probably better to eat it!

Composting Bread Final Thoughts 

Composting bread is a better option than adding it to landfills. It is rich in nitrogen, which is an essential component of healthy soil.

Be sure to add it with plenty of other kitchen waste as they hold many different nutrients for the benefits of garden soil. While bread is high in nitrogen, it doesn’t contain much else.

Pro Tip: If you are practicing organic gardening, then make sure the bread you are composting is organic.

Some bread products can be highly processed, so make sure you are happy with all the ingredients before adding anything to your compost. The absolute best bread to add would be homemade bread if you ever have any leftovers!

Here are other compost articles to help you on your composting journey:

Fast Growing Trees and Plants

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Written by:

Denise Davis
Denise Davis is an avid gardener, deeply rooted in growing organic veggies and crafting homemade fertilizers. She cherishes the earthy essence of composting and the continuous learning that gardening provides. Denise sees gardening as a holistic activity, offering physical and mental benefits alongside the joy of consuming what you cultivate. Her passion is to inspire others to embrace gardening as a rewarding, healthful lifestyle.

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