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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Incredible, Recylable, Compostable Egg

PSA For The Many Benefits Of Eggs

We consume a lot of eggs.  I should clarify...  We personally consume a lot of egg whites.  We compost the yolks, cartons and egg shells through a few different processes.  After purchasing a nice 5 dozen eggs a week from Costco, we separate the whites from the yolks straight away.  We set aside half for whatever we may want during the week and use half to make nice goat cheese, jalapeno and onion muffin frittatas cooked in our Cast Iron Muffin Pans (better than silicone)!

The Breakdown

Plastic Wrap

We put the plastic wrap in our recycle bin.  Unfortunately, we haven't found any use for previously used shrink wrap... any ideas?

Cardboard egg crate seed starters
Cardboard egg crate seed starters

Cardboard egg crates

These are awesome!  We trim them down to start seedlings.  We tear them up and put them in the compost bin for eventual decomposition. Whether straight to the compost bin or composting under the roots of a newly planted seedling, these end up in the same place.  And these cardboard egg crates are very attractive to earthworms.

Our seedlings have always loved these seed starts.  We put them in the 10 Plant Growing Trays (No Drain Holes) - 20" trays and water into the trays rather than on top of the seedlings.

Compost your egg yolks
Compost your egg yolks

Golden yellow egg yolks

The bad rap eggs get are mostly due to the lovely, cheerful, golden yellow egg yolks.  Prevention posted a nice infograph on the nutritional values of the whole egg versus the egg yolks.  The comparison is between a small whole egg and a large egg white.

For eggs, we're primarily interested in the protein value and stick with the egg whites when we cook.  For the yolks, we throw them into the compost bin.  Many gardeners believe that we cannot compost the egg yolks.  However, for the hot-bin composting, it is okay, and here's why:
Hermetia illucens - black soldier fly larvae in compost
Hermetia illucens
black soldier fly larvae in compost
As long as your bin is working between 40-60C [104-140F], and you add some shredded paper and bulking agent (as normal with food waste) the egg and yolk will be broken down and ‘invisible’ within a few days. ~ HotBin Composting
Another reason why the golden egg yolks are great for the compost bin is for the black fly larvae.  We never put them in there ourselves, they are just naturally attracted to our hot, not too stinky veggie and protein rich compost.  This is great for us, they compost our waste products faster than earthworms, but not so much for the paper products or eggshells.

Grinding up the egg shells

Until this last year, I had no clue what was going on with egg shells.  We just threw them into the compost bin along with all the other compost-safe stuff.  But, I ran into an article about making silver powder for facial cleansing and was impressed that grinding up eggshells yields decent calcium carbonate for no extra costs!

Another article discusses the benefits of consuming DIY egg shell calcium carbonate as a calcium supplement.
1 tsp. contains approximately 800-1,000 mg. of calcium. Consume by mixing in a small amount of water with a meal. Consume 3/4 to 1 tsp daily, divided in 3 servings with meals. Don’t consumer more than 1 tsp a day as it can irritate sensitive digestive trac[ts]. ~ Mamma Natural
And finally another solution provided by eggshells is banishing the dreaded blossom end rot seen on tomatoes, eggplants, squash and zucchini.
When you plant your tomatoes add a few crushed eggshells to the planting hole. This will add calcium to the soil - P. Allen Smith
So, we have a lot of great reasons for grinding up our egg shells.  Since we have the 5 dozen egg shells, we process them all at once.

5 dozen eggshells, after separating yolks and whites.
5 dozen eggshells, after separating yolks and whites.
After separating the yolks from whites, the egg shells are rinsed off and shaken out.  Shaking out the eggshells makes them nest in columns of shells.  We need these to be separated so they can dry more quickly and air out any trace of residue.  Some people bake them, we just set them out in the hot sun and they pretty much bake dry after 24 hours.

Egg shells, crushed for processing management
Egg shells, crushed for processing management
We bring them back in after 24 hours and crush the shells.  I basically grab a handful and squeeze them, to reduce the size and make the grinding process more manageable.  Hard to imagine this is the remnants of 5 dozen eggshells.  We grind them in our KitchenAid Blade Coffee Grinder, which has removable stainless steel grinding cups. This particular model also has a KitchenAid Spice Grinder Kit if you want to keep eggshells separate from coffee or spices.

5 Dozen egg shells, partially ground
5 Dozen egg shells, partially ground
The eggshells are ground up a bit, which reduces their total volume.  This gives us room to stuff in more of the cracked eggshells.  In the end, all 5 dozen eggshells fit into the one coffee grinder bowl for grinding.  The particles became smaller the longer they were ground up.

5 Dozen egg shells, completely ground up
5 Dozen egg shells, completely ground up
Grinding up the eggshells is quick work and the resulting powder takes very little space.  It measured up to about 1 full cup of ground egg shells.  This means each eggshell reduced to just over 3/4 teaspoon (4/5 to be exact).

Now that we have this in hand, we'll be prepared like scouts to add calcium to our newly planted edibles, and even create some eggshell tincture to feed our plants for a quick calcium boost.  What do you do with your egg waste?  We'd love to know!

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