Most people know that lemons are one of the citrus fruits that tend to be highly acidic. Lemons are probably the most acidic fruit of all, at least it feels that way if you ever suck a lemon. Acidity is an issue when trying to make compost. It’s something that needs to be avoided or managed. So, can you put lemons in compost?
If you’re putting lemons in compost…
You can put lemons in compost. You can put lemon peels or whole lemons in compost and they will rot down. Lemons are one of the strongest citric acid fruits. If you are in the habit of putting lemons or lemon-waste in compost, add hydrated white lime to reduce acidity.
…you need to add hydrated white lime
Hydrated white lime is a very fine white powder that is naturally occurring. It’s produced from limestone rock that has been dug out from quarries. It’s then ground down to a fine powder or put through a heating process followed by re hydration with water, hence hydrated lime. This generates an even finer powder.
It’s very safe to handle, you don’t need gloves but constant contact with it will dry out your skin. This won’t be a problem to you because you will only be handling it for a brief moment when you add fresh waste to the compost.
The best compost is made using hydrated white lime
All you need to do is add a light dusting of it over fresh waste from the kitchen when making an addition to your compost. All citrus fruit waste is going to be acidic and will require the addition of white lime. White lime will react instantly with acids. This is very convenient especially when trying to make compost from material that is as acidic as lemons.
To make compost from any organic waste, it helps if you turn the compost heap over. This can be done in a number of ways. We do this to draw air into the heap. Turning over a compost heap won’t do anything to reduce acidity.
Can you put lemons in compost? Yes but add white lime.
How to make full use of lemons
The lemons that you buy will be covered with a protective wax which will extend its shelf life. When you take delivery of lemons, or any other fruit, the clock is ticking and they will start to deteriorate very soon.
If you know that you won’t be using them straight away, then you can store lemons by freezing them. Before you do this, it’s recommended that you wash the wax off using warm water and some detergent.
Then just put them in a plastic bag, suck the air out of the bag using a drinking straw, seal the bag and put it in the deep freezer. One advantage of doing this is that a frozen lemon is easier to grate if you want grated lemon rind. Although, doing this may feel uncomfortable. A frozen lemon is going to be very cold to hold, so you may need to wear rubber gloves to make it easier.
If you have a recipe that requires the juice and grated rind of a lemon, think about grating up the frozen lemon as a whole. I’ve done this and it works well for making Christmas puddings. It isn’t particularly easy to do because it’s a bit like grating a solid block of ice but you do get all the rind and juice. You also get the pips but as long as they are grated, they won’t do any harm in a recipe.
What can I use lemons for?
Looking around,there are lots of interesting ways in which people use lemons. It usually involves making use of the acidic element for cleaning glass and metals or putting some lemon juice in with the laundry to give a fresh smell and feel.
Another use, for which there appears to be a whole load of recipes, is lemonade using juice squeezed straight from lemons. I’ve tried this. It takes a surprising number of lemons to get a decent amount of juice. I’ve since taken advice from others who prefer to buy ready-squeezed juice at the supermarket.
If you have hard water in your area, consider boiling a lemon, in some water in the kettle. This will help to remove lime scale.
Cutting a lemon into slices and placing it in the fridge will help to keep it smelling fresh and clean.
Rather than making compost from remains of lemon, consider placing it somewhere dry so that it dries out completely. On the top of a radiator would be a good place because the smell of lemon will be generated from it as it dries. Then, when it’s completely dry, you can use the rind as a fire lighter. Lemons, like so many citrus fruits, have oils in the rind which make them flammable for starting a fire.
These same oils are known as ‘essential oils’. If you can extract them, then you have it for its own multitude of uses including flavouring, aromatherapy or washing your hair.
Finally, we are wandering off topic with this but, if you feel like being mischievous, lemon juice can be used as an invisible ink. This is something that I’ve tired, and it works. You need a clean pen that’s had no conventional ink in it or a dedicated mapping pen that can be kept for the purpose. Use fresh lemon juice. Write with juice, as though it were ordinary ink, on paper.
You need to look closely as you write because all you will see is the clear wet lines of script. When you’ve finished, place the paper on a radiator, where it won’t be disturbed for 1 or 2 hours. When dry, you won’t see where you have written anything. The only way to make it show up is to hold it near a source of heat.
It needs to be cooking heat. A burning candle would do it. Hold the paper close enough to it but avoid burning the paper or anything else. If you apply enough heat, your writing will appear, very clearly. It will be a light brown in colour. So, have fun with that.
Does fruit waste attract flies?
Fruit waste will attract flies and when they do, it will be clouds of them. Flies will only be attracted to fruit waste when the waste is relatively fresh. When fruit waste has become rotten, the flies will lose interest and leave. You can reduce the instance of flies on fruit waste by adding hydrated white lime.
All fruit will attract flies when it starts to deteriorate. These flies will be the very small type that aren’t too much trouble. Fruits don’t attract the bigger, common house-flies. If you have a fruit-bowl that’s got a piece of fruit hanging around in it that’s nearly reached the ‘throw-out’ stage, then you will, most likely, see a cloud of flies. They won’t be a problem, they won’t bite. Small flies hovering over a fruit-bowl are just an indicator that something needs your attention.
Where you may see a larger collection of flies is on the compost pile. This shouldn’t be any surprise. A compost pile, heap or bin is the perfect excuse for flies to gather. All compost piles will contain something that will not only attract flies but provide a breeding ground for all the flies in creation. If you deposit a large quantity of of fruit waste onto a compost pile, this is almost guaranteed to attract fruit-loving flies.
The number of flies that you see hovering over your compost will be directly proportional to the amount of fruit waste that you’ve deposited.This shouldn’t be too much of a problem as most compost piles, heaps or bins are position away from the house. If flies around the compost are a problem due to fruit waste or anything else, consider burying it with shredded paper or cover the waste with hydrated white lime.
Can orange peels go in compost?
You can think of orange peel in the same way as you would about lemon peels. There must be the same consideration regarding acidity. Orange peel is less likely to be used in recipes so it’s more likely to be thrown in with the compost. Orange peel has many of the same attributes as lemon peel. There are oils that can be extracted if you want them. Orange peel can be dried out and used as a fire starter.