Composting Capers

No, I am not writing about composting capers–those edible little flower buds from the capparis spinosa bush (caper plant), which add a delectable flavor to Mediterranean dishes–this post is about my inaugural experience with my new Vitamix FC50 composter.

When we began planning for this vanlife, I knew that composting the historically large volume of plant scraps we generate was an opportunity to be explored. I have been composting at home for many years, using a small countertop bin to hold veggie and fruit scraps that, once full, gets dumped into the very large composter tub that lives behind the greenhouse on our driveway. At first, I thought I’d collect scraps from Vanda meal prep to dump at a Co-op market or a Whole Foods perhaps yet, when those logistics were contemplated, it seemed like too many stars would have to align for this to be a viable solution. I do not wish to put food into the landfill, as a dearly held commitment to minimize my carbon/methane footprint, which led me to research the newer technology of countertop composter machines.

This is what I ended up purchasing. The Vitamix FC50 is a workhorse device, larger than I would like but the most narrow profile of all the devices on the market. It weighs 22 pounds.

Here’s what it looks like in Vanda’s garage:

I don’t know yet if that is the best spot for it, as we anticipate a lot of rearranging of our possessions over many weeks of settling in to vanlife. But, after doing a trial run of composting from my home kitchen, I now know that,

  • it takes about 4 hours from start to finish for a full bin of plants scraps, coffee grounds, and egg shells to go from wet/whole to the marvelous “soil” end product (see photos, below)
  • the vents on the back, while not producing too much heat or vapor, do require an open-air environment while the device is doing its work
  • there is a low-level noise generated during the cycle

I was impressed with the efficiency of the process and end result:

It is my intention to be mindful of the waste we generate. I will wash cans and plastic containers and fold cardboard to recycle; the trash bag will be only for dry stuff such as the occasional wrapper or labels from cans; and now, with the Vitamix composter, I will compost all food scraps to keep the wet waste out of the trash. We do not eat meat, so that animal fat will not be an issue; although I do sometimes use butter, my go-to is either coconut or olive oil for cooking, and we for sure eat cheese–so there will be fat. I guess to minimize those fats going into the composter, we will have to clean our plates!

The “soil” as the end product from the composter can be poured out anywhere that there is earth, be it on a patch of grass, a field, or a flower bed… Stay tuned for ongoing anecdotes regarding this spiffy new method of managing our food scraps while staying true to my commitment to keep food out of the landfill.



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