The NatureMill Automatic Mechanical Composter - First Look August 26, 2012 19:21

The NatureMill composter is an electric, kitchen cabinet-sized device that takes all manner of food waste - even meat, dairy and plate scrapings - and converts it to safe, usable compost.  Aside from tossing in some wood pellets and baking powder every so often, there's no real work involved for the user.  Pretty cool, right? Maybe you're thinking, "wait - why do I need a plug-in appliance to do what I can do in my backyard for free?"  Good question.  Certainly this little number isn't for everyone.  But it's pretty slick and dead simple to use.  After trying it out for a few weeks at the shop, we're ready to conclude that it's a reasonable and convenient option if you're tired of throwing food scraps in the garbage, don't have access to a full-sized outdoor compost bin, don't want to mess around with worms, or want to compost non-vegan waste. Check out the pictures below to see how it looks in operation.  As always, don't take my word for it!  If you're curious, come see it in operation at the store. Bring some scraps to feed it if you want!

 Our shiny, new demonstration model NatureMill Ultra. The horizontal seam in the front is for the compost removal tray door. The compost goes in the top lid (pictured closed) and you add a few wood pellets and a sprinkle of baking soda from the supply they conveniently include.
Our shiny, new demonstration model NatureMill Ultra. The horizontal seam in the front is for the compost removal tray door. The compost goes in the top lid (pictured closed) and you add a few wood pellets and a sprinkle of baking soda from the supply they conveniently include.

 

 One of the first feedings. We fed it a banana peel and some past-prime greens. It’s also dined on mushed and moldy berries, stale bread, and vegetable scraps. So far it hasn’t gotten any cheese or meat bits, as these have been going into the bokashi bucket we’ve also got going.
One of the first feedings. We fed it a banana peel and some past-prime greens. It’s also dined on mushed and moldy berries, stale bread, and vegetable scraps. So far it hasn’t gotten any cheese or meat bits, as these have been going into the bokashi bucket we’ve also got going.

 

 Here we see the NatureMill in mid-action. This was after we fed it some long-stem wilted greens. It looked like they were going to get all tangled up in the stir bar, but as you’ll see in the next image they eventually broke down OK. Still, next time we’ll probably chop the stems up a bit more.
Here we see the NatureMill in mid-action. This was after we fed it some long-stem wilted greens. It looked like they were going to get all tangled up in the stir bar, but as you’ll see in the next image they eventually broke down OK. Still, next time we’ll probably chop the stems up a bit more.

 

 Hey, that’s looking undeniably like compost! We threw some dried up flower stems in a few hours before taking this photo, but besides those everything seems to have composted nicely. Next test: old cheese. Stay tuned!
Hey, that’s looking undeniably like compost! We threw some dried up flower stems in a few hours before taking this photo, but besides those everything seems to have composted nicely. Next test: old cheese. Stay tuned!

 

 Having passed through the “startup” phase and obtained what appears to be a healthy base of compost, we decided to up the ante. The manufacturer assures us that this unit can handle food scraps with ease, so we fed it half a leftover lasagne that Rick inadvertently left in the oven overnight. Can’t wait to see how it does!
Having passed through the “startup” phase and obtained what appears to be a healthy base of compost, we decided to up the ante. The manufacturer assures us that this unit can handle food scraps with ease, so we fed it half a leftover lasagne that Rick inadvertently left in the oven overnight. Can’t wait to see how it does!

 

 Well, the lasagne seemed to go through moderately well, although it did impart a distinct used-to-be-lasagne smell onto the two day old compost (dark material visible next to the bread and cheese in this photo). For this installment of Will It Compost, we tossed in some heavily freezer-burned goat paneer (tragic, I know) and a couple slices of moldy bread. Pics will follow, but 24 hours later the unit smells distinctly of old cheese.
Well, the lasagne seemed to go through moderately well, although it did impart a distinct used-to-be-lasagne smell onto the two day old compost (dark material visible next to the bread and cheese in this photo). For this installment of Will It Compost, we tossed in some heavily freezer-burned goat paneer (tragic, I know) and a couple slices of moldy bread. Pics will follow, but 24 hours later the unit smells distinctly of old cheese.

 

**Updated January 2015**

For those of you who were probably wondering, YES this unit will compost a whole fish. Here's a picture of what a fish looks like in the NatureMill after 3 days:

 
See any fish in there? No! It's composted.