The bokashi kitchen composter is a really good way of transforming kitchen waste into nutrient-rich soil conditioner. It will deal with almost all kitchen food waste including cooked and uncooked meats and fish, dairy products and cooked leftovers which can’t be added to a normal composting system. (See Composting food waste and Bokashi)
Bokashi bran, a dry mixture of bran, molasses and micro-organisms, is mixed in with the food scraps in a sealable container which can be kept in the kitchen. Once full, the mix is left for 2 weeks to ferment, then the contents are added to a normal compost bin or wormery, or dug into a hole in the ground and buried. The fermented matter then breaks down very quickly into rich compost.
Bokashi bran is normally purchased ready-made, and costs about £23 for 6 months supply (see The Recycle Works or the turning2green shop). The initial cost of purchasing the bins, plus the ongoing cost of the bokashi bran sometimes puts people off using what is otherwise a really good system.
However, it is possible to purchase the EM-1 Effective Micro-Organisms and make the bran mixture yourself at home for less. The blue sun sell 250ml of EM-1 for £6.99, or The Recycle Works have 1 litre bottles for £22, or see the turning2green shop
There are various recipes for bokashi bran on the web, but most work with large quantities and aren’t suitable for normal home use, so here is a very simple and easy recipe for a small batch of EM bokashi bran, enough to supply an average home for about a month at a total cost of around £1.50.
Mix one tablespoon (15ml) of molasses into 250ml of warm water, then add one tablespoon (15ml) of EM-1. Pour the mixture into 500g of wheat bran and mix very thoroughly. The bran will expand as it absorbs the water.
When it’s well mixed, seal it up in an airtight container and leave in a warm, dark place for about 2-3 weeks. VERY IMPORTANT – don’t open it up at all for at least two weeks, not even to have a quick peep, or the process won’t work!
When the time is up, the bran should smell fermented and there may be some white mould on the surface, which is a good sign. The mixture is now ready to use, but keeps better if it’s well dried. Spread out on a tray away from direct sunlight until completely dry then store in a cool dry place. The bran should remain active for at least a year.
An alternative suggestion I found is to use ‘kombucha’ tea as an inoculant instead of EM bokashi. This is a fermented sweet tea made from a SCOBY (Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast), which looks like a white rubbery pancake. The tea tastes like a cross between sparkling apple cider and champagne, and is said to be a very beneficial health drink. It’s been used in China for at least two thousand years, where it was known as the ‘tea of immortality’.
A SCOBY costs just a couple of pounds on ebay and, once the culture starts growing it reproduces itself, so you might have a lifetime supply of enough tea to keep both you and your fermenting buckets healthy for next to nothing! I’ve never tried this and have absolutely no idea if it works, but it’s got to be worth a look!
If you try any of these methods, please do come back and let us know how you got on.