I really tried to come up with some kind of she sells sea shells title, but it was alliteratively exhausting.
Things that come in shells are delicious. There is no exception to this rule. Eggs? My goodness, is there anything better? Clams, scallops, lobsters, crabs? They may even top eggs on the scale of deliciousness. Turtles? Fantastic! Shy adolescents? Okay, not so tasty even when they do come out of their shells.
But.. we eat a lot of things in shells (how adorable that they think the shells will protect them from us!) and normally just toss the shelly bits away. Stop! Stop being a shelly bit tosser! They add tons to the world of your compost pile. Calcium, magnesium… ummm.. byzantium, chrysanthemum, and uh… other mums. All of it good.
Egg shell or sea shell bits can often just be mashed into pieces and chucked right into the pile, but I like to cook them first. Mostly because it makes smashing them up easier and warm. But it also kills any lingering nastiness like salmonella on them. Here’s what you do:
- Eat something that comes in a shell. Eggs work nicely. I heard of this one recipe for eggs that are scrambled! Try it.
- Save the shells.
- Heat your oven to 250 degrees F – less if you use celsius lingo.
- Spread the shells out on a baking sheet.
- Cook them for 20 minutes.
- Remove them.
- Place them into a bag of some kind – use one with a closed bottom and an open top to ensure you can put things in without having them fall out. A bag with sides is also good.
- Mercilessly smash the shells into bits. It’s fun to smush them with your fingers. It’s even more fun to hit them with a rock, a turtle, or a shy adolescent. (Hint: Save the turtle or adolescent for future culinary indulgence.)
- Add the smashed bits into your compost pile or right into your soil. (Great for tomatoes to help avoid the dreaded blossom end rot that can be caused by a calcium deficiency.)
- You can also consider making an egg shell/sea shell tea by soaking the bits in water for a few days. The tea will be chock full of shelly, minerally goodness and you can spread it onto your calcium loving plants.
That’s it! Happy shelling!
UPDATE: 12/2009 A couple of recent commentors to this posting have pointed out that it’s a bit environmentally wasteful to fire up the stove to cook the shells and that it’s also wasteful to use a plastic bag. In fact, one commentor had some interesting suggestions on how I should kill myself.
I will say this, you do not absolutely have to cook these shells – especially in the quantities I showed in this demo. Break them up and throw them into the compost pile. That’s fine. And sure, don’t use a plastic bag. Use a paper bag or something.
Update: Deb from auntdebbisgarden has a good tip too in the comments below. Use the water you’ve boiled eggs in to water your tomatoes. Thanks Deb!