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Making Bokashi – Update

After 2 weeks the Bokashi Mix is almost ready!

A couple weeks ago I wrote about my first attempt at making bokashi (which went very smoothly). As mentioned, Neal Foley (aka the ‘PodChef’) says two weeks is enough time for it to sit, so I decided to check it out this afternoon.

I’ve opened up the bucket containing the (ziploc) bags of bokashi once already, just out of curiosity. Interestingly enough, when I did so the first time the bags were ballooned out – likely due to all the carbon dioxide being released by the aerobic microbes while feasting on the molasses and consuming all the remaining oxygen. Today the bags are back to normal, so perhaps the CO2 is being consumed via a particular anaerobic pathway? Hmmm…need to research this a little more.

I was pleasantly surprised by the odour that came out of the bucket when I opened it up (ok, something just occurred to me – if there is odour, gas must be escaping from the bags – HAHA!). It was quite pungent, but not offensive at all – certainly NOTHING like some of the other mixtures I’ve allowed to go anaerobic! 😯 I’m sure this is all thanks to the particular mix of ‘friendly microbes’ that have populated the material.

The colour of the bokashi mix is quite a bit darker than when I first added it, again presumably resulting from the activities of my new microbe friends.

I’m sure my mix would be totally fine for use now (especially given the small quantity), but I think I’m going to let it sit for one more week before drying it, just to make sure I have some high-grade bokashi for my experimentation.

[tags]bokashi, composting, compost, bokashi bucket, anaerobic, fermentation, kitchen waste, em, friendly microorganisms, effective microorganisms[/tags]

Written by Compost Guy on January 21st, 2008 with 6 comments.
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Get your own gravatar by visiting Anthony
#1. January 22nd, 2008, at 4:33 PM.

Thanks for sharing this experience on your blog. I’m really enjoying your updates. And I’m definitely going to follow your lead and try to make my own bokashi sometime this spring.

Question: How do you plan on drying it out? Do you think that a food dehydrator could be used or is the bokashi too lite that the fan would blow it around inside the dehydrator?

Get your own gravatar by visiting Al
#2. January 22nd, 2008, at 6:53 PM.


The bokashi will not change colour if has been kept airtight. It should smell sweet/fermented/pickle-y. A brown colour – in my experience – still has an element of fermentedness but there is a sharper smell that is like rot [wet socks?] as air reacts with the microbes inside.

It happens to me too, usually when the seal of the lid on the [5 gallon] bucket is not air-tight. Fortunately, it is limited to the first inch or two so I simply scrape that off and find the right stuff below that. The waste bokashi goes into my compost bin. I’m still perfecting my own technique.

Here’s a point from the cityfarmer page:

5. Put the mixture in the air-tight barrel. Press it down as you stuff it in to remove as much air as possible.

You can still make a small quantity to experiment with as long as you cram all the bran into only one bag. Or you can use rubbermaid[tm] containers that will fill without breaking and put a plastic bag on the surface to make the airtightness even better.



Get your own gravatar by visiting Al
#3. January 22nd, 2008, at 7:49 PM.

P.S. If using rubbermaid[tm] containers: bokashi pressed down and filled to the brim. Or, if not full, sand/coffee grounds in a bag spread out on top of the bokashi to seal more air out. In both cases, a plastic bag on top, extending outside the container, then the lid on top of that.


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#4. January 23rd, 2008, at 4:15 PM.

Hi Al,
Thanks for the info!
And here I thought I had done well. Dang nabbit!!
What you said makes total sense – when materials oxidize they tend to darken. Guess those ziploc bags aren’t the most reliable way to seal something (at least not something full of living organisms).
The bucket itself has a very tight seal, but opening a couple times certainly didn’t help!

Anyway, I’m definitely going to perfect my technique for the next round of bokashi making! Thanks for the tips!

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#5. January 23rd, 2008, at 4:18 PM.

I almost missed your comment! Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the updates.

I’ve been wondering about the drying process myself. I think I’ll need to do it in the basement in order to maintain reasonable marital relations (haha), but am still not sure where to lay the material out. I was simply going to lay it out on a flat surface and let it dry. I may do it a bit at a time.


Get your own gravatar by visiting william
#6. October 29th, 2008, at 9:10 PM.

I’m not sure I understand the difference between drying it out vs. opening the box/bag above? Aren’t both exposing the material to air?

I am doing my mix according to Neal Foley’s recipe, but using rice bran. I found that the amt of water he recommended was way too wet and I had to add much more bran to make it reasonably dry (“holds into a ball, but crumbles at first touch”). Consequently I’m worried that I didn’t put enough molasses and EM per volume of the bran; I’m hoping that I just have to let it ferment longer for the colony to multiply. I am seeing the white fuzzy mold on top which I gather is a good sign.

I also open the box up and peel back a corner of the plastic bag cover to peek, hope I didn’t ruin it.

FWIW, the bokashi mix I got from EM America was very dark, and my currently fermenting mix is very pale. Probably a case of drying it out vs. having it wet.

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