Composting yogurt is not completely out of the question.
It comes with some severe limitations and risks that need to be mitigated to the point that if you are a beginner composter, you will need to skip the yogurt in your project this year.
If you are asking the question “can yogurt be composted?” the answer is “yes.” Another relevant question is whether or not you should.
Read on to see if composting yogurt is for you.
Reasons to Not Compost Yogurt
While the conversation amongst composting enthusiasts rocks back and forth across the “yes” and “no” to the question, there are several concrete rationales to weigh in the negative.
Access to Oxygen
Rendering household waste into useful mulch through composting requires several key ingredients, one of the biggest of which is oxygen.
The microorganisms that consume the materials in the compost require the oxygen as part of the process.
Dairy products, including yogurt, are high in fat and their substances do not make room for a great deal of air, suffocating the digestion process of the microorganisms and slowing down composting.
An active composter can still eliminate this challenge
- Place the yogurt at the center of the compost. It is the warmest place in the pile and has access to the most aggressive consumption in the entire compost
- Turn the compost regularly. If your composter is analog then using a long tined pitchfork or similar implement, simply turn the compost regularly to keep access to all things in the compost to the warm center
- Keep the pile moist, but not drenched to encourage active microbial growth and health
- Include fibrous brown materials in the mix with yogurt to break up the substance as much as possible and allow for greater aeration
Decomposing yogurt carries a powerful smell thanks to its milk-based origins.
That scent runs a strong risk of inviting dangerous vermin to your compost pile, endangering your entire compost project.
Common pests, especially rodents, defecate constantly and their feces carries with it several different diseases common to their species.
While post-modern science combats infection from rodents effectively with new innovations every day, it is impossible to disinfect a compost pile without killing off the active microbes and rendering the entire project insert.
There are a few potential solutions to the pest challenge
- Utilize a digester. These containers, partially submerged and covered over prevent the escape of the attractive scent
- Limit the volume of yogurt. Anthony from Help Me Compost concedes that no amount of risk mitigation can rescue a compost project from too much yogurt or assorted dairy products, but limited amounts will keep from producing too much scent
- Employ a cat. If your compost pile is outside, use one of the world’s oldest tropes, the rodent catching cat, to your advantage. Just use due cation that your mouser does not leave any droppings in the mulch either as it is just as risky to your compost
Reasons to Compost Yogurt
As long as you can mitigate the risk, there are some huge benefits to your future soil to be found in breaking down yesterday’s yogurt into tomorrow’s mulch.
High in Fat Content
As the recent obsession with “good fats” such as those found in avocados, cashews, and Greek yogurt has shown, foods rich in calories are beneficial.
We measure calories to determine the energy that a food source will give off when burned.
Yogurt burns hot in terms of calories and as long as its liquid nature is broken up with dry fibrous materials, it will benefit a compost pile.
The most benefit will come to a compost project aimed at having a high-heat center.
When experimenting with the proper balance of yogurt to brown material, Rogue Parrish recommends maintaining a “with yogurt” and “without yogurt” pile to help dial in the proper approach.
She also recommends keeping handy a thermometer to keep the compost close to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
High Production of Leachate
Discarded food produces greater volumes of leachate than anything else.
Yogurt’s status as liquid beforehand guarantees a larger, per weight production of leachate than other dryer foods.
Putting Leachate to Work
If your system has a leachate collection system, it can be employed to really boost your production to the next level.
Take the following cautions:
- Dilute your solution with drinkable water. Using water with untracked microbes can lead to spoilage of any edible items grown in your garden
- Stick to the leachate and water. Adding anything else “in the name of science” demonstrably adds risks of the cultivation of harmful diseases on your plants
- Do not apply directly to the plants. Use as a drenching agent for the soil for your plants to give nutrient rich soil a first-class treatment, helping the taste of your produce without risking harmful substances on the surface of the produce
- Stop adding leachate to your soil four months prior to harvest
Choose Your Solution
Ultimately, composting is about taking one of the larger problems of the developed world, waste production and reduction, and making it benefit the environment as well as the quality of food.
As the conversation grows about super foods and clean eating, yogurt, especially the cleaner versions of it, will continue to play a big part in consumption and eventual waste.
The debate will continue amongst enthusiasts for composting on whether or not to include any dairy products. Your choice will not affect the garden of any person but yourself.
You can certainly make the safe choice of avoiding it altogether, going with the more conventional.
You can also utilize any of the many aids in including it if you would like to benefit from the high fat and caloric value of yogurt and even put a little leachate into your soil for that extra special touch you will enjoy in the first bite of your first crop of the season.