Juicer Pulp as Worm Food

Juicer Pulp - Worm Food!
Fruit and vegetable pulp removed from our new juicer

My wife and I recently decided to adopt a healthier lifestyle. We’ve always been pretty health-conscious, but with the new plan we’ll be getting really serious about it. One of the key changes we’ve made initially is to start eating only fruit in the morning, and to eat more ‘whole foods’ in general. As such, my wife thought it would be fun (and helpful) to buy a juicer so we could create lots of nutritious (and tasty) morning drinks.

Not only has the new plan been great for us (and a lot easier than I thought it was going to be), but my worms are certainly benefiting from the greatly increased load of fruit/veggie waste. We produce a giant bowl of fruit peelings and scraps PLUS a smaller bowl of pulp material that is removed from the juicer every day now (and this is not including the usual food scraps we product on a daily basis, which still go into the scrap holder under my sink). I thought initially that a lot of this pulpy stuff would be good to eat still, but after sampling some of it I decided otherwise (and I don’t mind treating the worms well anyway).

Like the ‘homemade manure‘ that I made last fall, juicer pulp can be an excellent food for composting worms since the surface area has been greatly increased (in comparison to the solid fruit/veggies), thus encouraging faster microbial colonization and easier breakdown – in other words, it will offer more food value (to the worms), a lot more quickly than if you simply threw whole (or chunks of) fruit in your bin.

The type of fruits and vegetables being used and the amount being produced (and added to a vermicomposting system) will certainly be an important consideration however. If you are doing mostly citrus, and producing lots of the pulp every day, you probably wouldn’t want to add all of it to your vermicomposting system(s) – especially not if you only have one or two small-to-medium sized ‘worm bin(s)’.

The citrus peelings are also not that great as a worm food, large due to the fact that they contain considerable amounts of potent oils – the odd orange peel here or there is totally fine, but when you are trying to make actual orange juice, you can probably imagine just how much peel you’d be left with. I’ve been adding all the low quality stuff like this to my regular ol’ backyard composter – which interesting enough DOES happen to have a thriving population of Red Worms down below.

One other thing to mention about thick, wet food material of any sort – you definitely won’t want to simply leave it sitting in a mound in your bin. The best way to use it is to add it in a thin layer (preferably buried so it doesn’t attract fruit flies, or to mix with with something bulky and absorbent, such as shredded cardboard.
If left in a concentrated heap, there will be little to no oxygen penetration and it will end up becoming a nasty anaerobic mess. With all those fruit sugars in there, you’ll likely get a lot of fermentation as well.

Anyway – just some things to think about!

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    • Verlene
    • September 10, 2009

    Nice to hear you’re eating healthfully. We often have “green smoothies” for breakfast. It’s an easy, fast way to get lots of raw, green veggies. My favorite is a combination of banana, spinach and fruit juice in the blender. Raw kale, chard, dandelion greens etc. tend to be a little bitter, but the addition of half to a whole lemon changes the bitter to tangy. I was surprised at how filling the green smoothies are and how long before I get hungry again. We combine blueberries or strawberries or pineapple or whatever with the greens. I just taste the concoction as I go, and serve it when it gets yummy enough.

    My first thought when I was served one of these was “Yuk!” but it tastes better than it looks, and is so good for you. Start with the liquid first, and add the other ingredients.

    I tried carrot tops in the blender. The stems wound around the blades and broke the blender.

    • Bentley
    • September 10, 2009

    Hi Verlene,
    Sounds like we enjoy some similar drinks. Our morning drink is called ‘green lemonade’, and has kale, romaine lettuce, apples and a lemon (I often add small amounts of other stuff just to experiment). When my wife told me about it initially, I was pretty skeptical. I thought that not only would it taste disgusting (and I am pretty open-minded when it comes to trying stuff out, believe me), but that it would also be about as filling as a glass of water. I was wrong on both counts, and now look forward to it every morning (along with the wide assortment of fruit we now eat).
    I have heard that banana and spinach make a good combo – I want to try it, but unfortunately we don’t currently have a good working blender at the moment, and I suspect the juicer just wouldn’t do the bananas justice.

    • mle
    • September 14, 2009

    I grow worms. To fee the population I pick up the pulp from a local organic juice bar. I have found it necessary to lime the juicer pulp, let it sit for a week and then add it in small amounts at a time.
    Large amounts of pulp will cause worm fatality.

    I am going to try the drink suggestions.


    • Bentley
    • September 14, 2009

    Hi M,
    Thanks for sharing your insights. I haven’t worked with really large quantities of this stuff, and we tend to have a lot of other materials apart from citrus in our pulp mixes, so that might help to explain why I’m not seeing any trouble with it yet (also quite early on still).

    Is there are lot of citrus used at the juice bar?

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