We’ve been looking at different composting methods and ways to process food waste from our kitchen and have discovered bokashi composting.
A method developed in Japan in the 1980s, it uses a fermented mixture of bran, molasses, and a microbial starter culture to very quickly break down all waste food to produce a traditional compost.
This seemed like the perfect solution because we can create the bokashi base from the leftover bran that we get after milling our heritage grain crop into flour just down the road from the farm. So, no better time like the present to give this a go! I ordered the kit immediately and this week I have mixed our first batch of bran.
You really don’t need much – an airtight bokashi bin which has a little tap at the bottom to let out the excess liquid, and a bottle of each the molasses and the microbial starter culture that is marketed as “EM-1.” EM stands for Essential Microorganisms and was developed by Dr Teruo Higa in 1982.
The first stage in the process is to make the bokashi bran. I added 15ml molasses, 15ml EM-1 and 250ml water to every 500g of bran and mixed it thoroughly.
The bran absorbs the liquid and should end up damp but not wet or sticky.
Then I bagged it all up making sure all the air is removed so the anaerobic fermentation process can take place.
Now the bran needs to be left for 2 weeks minimum…no checking or it will ruin the process. This will test my patience!
Apparently once it's ready, it might have a little mould on top but should smell sweet. I’ll need to spread it onto some trays to dry out before it’s ready to use.
The great thing about bokashi composting is that you can include almost all kitchen waste, including meat and dairy. It doesn’t smell and doesn’t take up much space in the kitchen.
Also, the liquid you drain off makes an amazing plant fertiliser when diluted with water, or can be poured straight down drains to prevent odours and build up.
I’ll simply sprinkle a handful of the bran over waste food every time I add any to my bin, and the microorganisms in the bran essentially pickle the waste. After 2 weeks, I’ll empty the bin into the main farm compost where it will break down completely in just a couple of weeks, creating a compost that is loaded with beneficial microbes for the soil.
What an exciting project - taking the waste bran from grain we have grown and combining with the waste from the vegetables from the farm that I’ve cooked with, to produce some incredible soil which will serve to improve next year’s vegetable harvest - it just makes so much sense.
Watch this space for another bokashi update in a few months’ time!