Monday, February 8, 2021

Can I Compost Orange Peels?

Oh, sweet citrus. You make my bleak winter months bearable, but our family seems to end up with a lot more orange peels this time of year. If you are in the same citrus boat as me, you may wonder, is it okay to throw all this acidic goodness in with my compost?

Can you compost citrus? The answer is:

               In the backyard = Yes

               In the worm bin = No

Set Your Mind at Squeeze

Yes, if you are composting in a typical backyard composting bin, you can include orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit, pomelos, and whatever other kind of citrus you want. The key is to not include only citrus peels.

Orange peels are acidic and if you were only adding citrus peels, you may make the pile too acidic to be a good habitat for our microorganism friends. But it would have to be A LOT of citrus. Like, if you owned a lemonade stand and were throwing 5-gallon buckets of lemon peels into your bin every day, you might have a problem.

For the rest of us, keep on adding the peels. They provide nitrogen to help your pile break down.

Zest One Exception

If you have a worm bin (or vermicomposting bin for fancier folk) then you want to minimize or even avoid citrus altogether.

Why? Two reasons. First, our worm friends are very sensitive to changes in pH and in the confined space of the bin there is nowhere for them to escape the acidic onslaught.

Second, little white mites seem to be attracted to citrus in worm bins. I don’t know where they come from or why they appear in worm bins and not backyard bins. This mystery may never be solved, I just know they are annoying enough to deter me from wanting to feed the worms citrus.

Random Acts of Rindness

So, if you compost in your backyard, keep tossing those peels into the bin. Your compost pile will convert those peels into lovely, finished compost with ease.

I’ll just be over here stuffing my face with orange slices and dreaming of warmer days to come.


  1. Orange peels . Put those highly nutritious peels in your Vitamix with a little water and put in a jar to use for a week. A couple spoonfuls on top of yogurt, in cake, or add more water and sugar for an alternative orange juice. Especially good for you if you have arthritis, for copper content and anti inflammatory. Check it out!
    And if you don't use a blender or food processor, boil strips of orange peel and coat with sugar for orange peel candy! A good snack and makes your home smell wonderful!

  2. Wow, Suzanne, those are awesome tips! I will have to try the orange peel candy!

  3. Citrus rinds can be boiled to scent the air and, while it won't reduce the acid, it does reduce the potent oils in the skins and break the rinds down physically so that they compost more quickly. Thin rinds can also be dried on a windowsill/radiator and used as fire starters.

    Also, I've found that black soldier fly larvae process large amounts of rind just fine, although it takes them longer than some other types of waste - but in bsf terms, 'longer' is two days instead of one.

    1. Thanks, Mati, great ideas! I've never considered using orange peels as fire starters.