Re: [Fwd: Cooking in a Compost Pile] -Reply

Bill Carter (
Fri, 22 Jan 1999 10:38:39 -0600

Thanks to Myra for providing the good information on the esoteric topic of
cooking in compost piles. The pathogen issues are very real, and I have
friends who have reported getting very sick after being careless and
eating after handling unfinished compost without washing up properly.

However, I know of one remarkable example of culinary composting.

Malcolm Beck, composter extraordinaire and owner of Garden Ville in
San Antonio, has a great composted turkey dinner story. He composts in
large static piles (8+ feet high) turned every couple of weeks to a month
or so, and some of his mixes maintain very high core temperatures for
over a week after turning. Being an experimental sort, he decided one
recent Thanksgiving to try cooking a few turkeys in one of his piles. He
drilled a hole into one of the pile cores (I think it was shredded brush,
sawdust, and manure, moistened with waste cola) and lowered a few
carefull wrapped turkeys double-sealed in plastic bags by rope into the
core (reading between 160 and 180 degrees F) and re-filled the hole.
Several hours later he retrieved the turkeys, too hot to touch, and reports
that they were among the tenderest, juiciest, flavorful turkeys he ever
ate. I would imagine that in this case, Pasteurization was adequate for
relatively safe dining. As in most of his experiments, he documented the
enterprise with slides.