No Shrimp Shells Here

21 Feb

Schedule is the crazy variable for moms, right?  Between school, sports, and after school activities sometimes it feels like we are running from one event to another, barely stopping along the way.  I think there is a whole blogosphere out there dedicated to this topic so that’s all I’ll say, BUT a busy schedule does dictate the way we eat on certain days.  Since a semblance of “family dinner” is important to us that means dishes we can have ready to eat when everyone is assembled.

Ina Garten’s Baked Shrimp Scampi is just that dish.  Easy to prep in advance from stock ingredients, quick to cook and simple to serve, it fits the bill for busy weeknights and is perfect for company dinner.  (It this sounds like advertising copy, well, I have a long history of writing that so … many apologies.)  Really, if you are a shrimp fan it’s an easy dish to love.

But, I don’t love the shrimp shells.  Have you ever put them in your trash and left it overnight?  It probably woke you up!  Typically I wrap the shells in the plastic bag they came in, pop them in the freezer, then toss them in the trash on pick-up day.

I’ve often wondered about composting the shells though since fish emulsion is a popular fertilizer and one I’ve used on a regular basis.  Shrimp shells are primarily made of chitin and are very nitrogen rich, so it makes sense that shells are a compost enhancer.

The only drawback is, not surprisingly, the fishy odor.  My dogs love to try to lick the dirt in the garden when I use it, so imagine what they might do to my compost pile!  Even worse, I’m pretty sure shrimp in the center of the pile would be as good as a personalized Evite for all the neighborhood cats.

If you are feeling adventurous, it is possible to compost shrimp shells.  Simply dig a hole at least ten inches into the middle of the compost pile, deposit the shells, then cover with well rotted leaves and more compost.  This should mask any fishy odors, but if you are hesitant, or you have curious cats (or dogs, or any wildlife around for that matter), here are a few tips that should guarantee odor-free decomposition.

  • Boil the shrimp shells for 20-30 minutes.
  • Dry out the shrimp shells in a low heat oven (maybe 10-15 minutes at 200 degrees?)
  • Grind shells into a powder & sprinkle in compost.

Maybe when I am retired or have plenty of free time in the summer I’ll give this a shot, but until then I’m freezing then trashing my shells.  My apologies to the environment.  Oh, and here’s my bucket for the day.


What you can see (clockwise top to bottom)

  • cores & peels from six organic Pink Lady apples
  • eggshells
  • espresso grinds (essential afternoon maple latte)
  • garlic stem end
  • orange segment
  • zested lemon halves

What I made with all of that:

  • The above referenced Baked Shrimp Scampi, made with just one pound of shrimp and no shallots because I chose to read Jane Austen instead.  Still totally delicious.
  • Scrambled eggs with mushrooms and sharp cheddar
  • A maple “latte” (Use a lot of freshly brewed espresso, hot whole milk, and a generous splash of real maple syrup.  It’s better than a certain coffee shop.  Trust me.
  • Rustic apple tarts made with leftover dough and the last of my marvelous farm organic apples.  These that were made so late they i baked turned into breakfast today.  Can I just say this is a great way to start your Friday?

apple tart

Sorry to leave you drooling.


Posted by on February 21, 2014 in Compost How To, The Daily Bucket


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

4 responses to “No Shrimp Shells Here

  1. Donna Marie

    February 22, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    This post is just timely. I am going to cook corn and shrimp soup later and I am also planning on making a small bin of compost to experiment if I can do composting properly. Looks like I am going to put that huge mortar and pastel to good use.

    Can I sun-dry the shrimps insread? Also, any suggestions on what to to with the unedible parts of the corn?

    And by the way, reserve that water you used to boil the shrimp. Makes really good stock.


    • wedigyummy

      February 26, 2014 at 6:04 pm

      So glad you are going to give composting a try! I think you could easily sun dry the shrimp shells, but I might attempt that in the summer when temps are higher and you could leave them out for the day. Around here it is still quite chilly! Good idea on using the mortar & pestle. I would be hesitant to grind them in my coffee/spice grinder. And yes, shrimp shell water would make great stock. After removing the shells, I’d add a few aromatics & salt, then simmer and freeze for later use. Wouldn’t that be a great base for clam chowder or shrimp bisque? Yum!

      With regard to corn husks and cobs, I regularly throw the husks on my pile because it has a great deal of decomposing organic matter (about 3 feet by 3 feet). If the husks will be the beginning of your pile, I’d chop or shred them so they will break down more quickly. As for cobs, they will decompose, but they are woody and take a long time. You definitely need to chop these into four or five chunks. Good luck and thanks for stopping by. Please stop back by and let me know how it goes!


      • Donna Marie

        March 6, 2014 at 6:44 am

        Hi! I started with my compost on the 26th of Feb. It’s sort of an experiment because I am using a small 1×1×1 cracker container. I don’t have a big 3×3×3 container yet, and I want to try and see if I can make compost using that small container.

        And I added shrimp shells twice. Sun is already pretty hot here and I had the shells bake under the sun for 2 days. The first set of shells were pulverized to death using my mortar and pastel. Second batch, I was too lazy so I tried crumbling the shells with my hands. I was delighted to see them get squashed to a near sandy form, especially the heads.

        I am planning on blogging about it, hopefully I will have some time soon. I wanted to put the compost on my oregano, but I just have to wait and see if the compost will be good.


      • wedigyummy

        March 10, 2014 at 9:32 am

        Very Cool! Would love to hear an update soon!



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