This Vitamix Is What Finally Got Me to Start Composting In My Kitchen

updated Apr 24, 2024
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Someone using leftover organic food for compost avoiding waste and recycling.
Credit: Erlon Silva - TRI Digital/Getty Images

Confession time: I was very reluctant to start composting. But as a recipe developer, I cook more than the average person and therefore, generate more food scraps than the typical household. So when my husband and I were looking at houses, having some sort of outdoor space that would benefit from composting all those scraps was on our list. We eventually closed on a house that came with space to start a garden and plant fruit trees.

Now, I’ve always been good about separating my recycling from my garbage to minimize what ends up in landfills, but I imagined a countertop compost bin would turn my kitchen into a stinky, buggy mess. My husband, on the other hand, was so excited to start composting that he assembled our outdoor compost bin the same day we signed the closing paperwork. It was hard to argue the benefits of composting (and hard to resist my husband’s endearing eagerness), so I got on the bandwagon — and then I doubled down on it.

What’s So Great About the Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50?

Once we moved into our house, we (or, rather, my husband) set up a large compost bin outside for a majority of our composting needs. Somehow, it was still not large enough, so we decided on using the Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50 to help with the volume we were composting — testing recipes for work means a lot of food scraps! 

As a huge fan of my Vitamix blender, I didn’t understand why a brand so well-known for their iconic blenders would get into the composting business, but when I saw the design, it began to make sense.

The countertop appliance dries, then grinds food waste into a powdery substance that you mix into your compost pile or soil. It’s not a true composter because you can’t use the powder instantly as a soil amendment. However, it’s still a great way to turn food waste into something more useful.

Instead of dumping our food scraps outside into the large outdoor compost bin and waiting months before they turn into liquid gold for our garden, this appliance significantly reduces the volume of the scraps we take outside and begins the process of breaking it down into usable compost. The same power and efficiency that I love about my blender translates quite well to the grinding and processing of food waste. 

The Kitchn’s Editorial Shopping Director, Jada Wong, had been using her FoodCycler for more than three years, too. “I’m not a recipe developer, but I somehow seem to create just as many food scraps to run the machine every night,” she said. She’s constantly hosting so after years of using the FC-50, she got the newer Eco 5. “Both machines are great, but the Eco 5 has a larger capacity and can handle larger bones and fruit pits that the FC-50 couldn’t.” In goes the odds and ends of fruit and vegetables (and the occasional leftovers), and out comes a dry powder that she mixes into her indoor plants and outdoor garden soil.

Credit: Kristina Vanni

How Do You Use the Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50?

Anytime I’m prepping or cooking, I keep the two-liter bucket insert nearby and drop the scraps right in there as I work. The air-tight lid has a carbon filter to keep any unpleasant smells out, so I was immediately impressed by the complete lack of food odors as I collected scraps. We’ve also never attracted any unwanted critters by having this on our countertop.

By the end of the day, the bucket is usually quite full and we run it at night while we are asleep. In the morning, it’s fun to see what magic happened overnight, and the difference from when you close the lid to when you open it is quite astounding. While the result is not technically compost, it can be mixed into soil as a fertilizer or added to an existing compost pile, which is what we do. Once that whole mixture has turned into real compost, we use it to feed our garden and newly planted fruit trees. 

How Do You Clean the Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50?

You can rinse out the bucket or put it in the dishwasher, although once the machine turns all those scraps into dry powder, there’s not much to clean. However, some shoppers have complained that the appliance is messy and hard to clean, particularly when used with a lot of moist food scraps.

We’ve found that if we start by putting our morning coffee grounds in the bottom and layer on whatever food scraps accumulate during the day on top, they act as a natural abrasive during the drying and grinding process. So for us, this has never been an issue.

Credit: Kristina Vanni

How Much Space Does the Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50 Take?

If you’re considering composting with the FoodCycler, you’ll need to weigh a few things. First is the size and how much space it’ll take up on your countertop. It takes up about one cubic foot of space, so it’s relatively the same size as a bread machine or countertop ice machine. It’s also about 14 inches high, which is less than the standard 18-inches between a kitchen countertop and upper cabinets, but be sure to measure your space anyway.

Also, and this is the obvious one — the machine needs to be near a power outlet. You can easily take out the bucket and keep it on your counter like I do to collect food scraps throughout the day, but the whole machine weighs about 20 pounds when empty so it’s not something you want to move around every day.

 How Much Does the Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50 Cost?

Then there’s the cost to consider. This appliance is certainly an investment at almost $400 full price, although you’ll find it on sale right now for around $300. It’s no secret that the Vitamix blenders are also investment pieces as well, so be prepared to dig deep.

However, in my experience, the technology, longevity, and warranty that Vitamix offers across the board is so superior to other brands, that the upfront investment pays off over time. Even though I’ve only been using the FoodCycler for more than a year, I’ve used my Vitamix blender daily for more than 10 years and it still works like a champ, so I look forward to saying the same thing about this FoodCycler years down the line. 

If composting is something that’s important to you and you’re short on outdoor space for a large bin (or like us, you want to give your compost a head-start), the Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50 is a fantastic solution that delivers usable compost materials without any mess, odors, or bugs.

Buy: Vitamix FoodCycler FC-50, $299.95 (originally $399.95)