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Making Bokashi

Bokashi Supplies

Well, I finally got my rear in gear again with my bokashi experiment. I was hoping to get back to it sooner, but it was a little challenging to find time over the holidays. Anyway, I’m really glad I got it taken care of this weekend since I still have to wait an additional 2-4 weeks before I can start using my bokashi mix.

Truth be told, I wasn’t really looking forward to making my own mix. I thought it was going to end up being a huge hassle, and I wondered why on earth I hadn’t simply ordered ready-made bokashi. Now that it is all taken care of however, I’m very I glad I did! It was a lot of fun, and much easier than I expected.

I still need to track down a good source for large quantities of wheat bran. I got mine from the ‘Bulk Barn’ (I love that place!), which was certainly a better choice than the supermarket (which only sold small bags of it), but still a bit of a pain when looking for really large quantities (a.k.a a big ol’ sack of wheat bran). That being said, the amount I bought (approx. 2.5 lbs) ended up being the perfect amount to hone my bokashi-making skills with, and should provide me with enough mix to keeping going for a little while (once it is ready to use). I’m sure I’ll be able to track down someone who sells the stuff in much larger quantities, and if not I’ll simply head back to the Bulk Barn and buy a bunch of bags.

Being very unsure of how to make bokashi (the novice that I am), I made sure to refer to a couple of reliable sources, numerous times, before getting started.

The EM Bokashi page on the City Farmer website has an excellent set of instructions, and I also referred to Neal ‘The PodChef’ Foley’s instructional video. In the end I decided to follow Neal’s recommendations, since it involved adding proportionally more water/microbes/molasses. I figured adding more water would make it easier to mix everything up and ensure that the all the bran is thoroughly moistened.

The ratio Foley uses is 1:1:100 – microbes:molasses:water. In my case (using Foley’s water:bran ratio), I determined that I needed to add approx 750 ml of water, so I also added 7.5 ml each of microbes and molasses.

I started by boiling the water to ensure that it was sterile and because I wanted it warm anyway. Once it had cooled down to about 100 F or so I added the molasses and microbes and mixed it up very well.

Moistening the Wheat Bran

The mixing part was a lot more fun that I had expected! I had envisioned some sort of sloppy gunk that would get all over me and be very hard to get off (kinda like making hamburgers using ground beef/bread crumbs/egg), but the material was very easy to work with, and even smelled nice – it felt like I was getting ready to bake some bran muffins!

Bokashi Mix - Ready to be Sealed

Once the mix was evenly moistened I filled a couple large ziplock freezer bags with it, squeezed out as much air as I could, then sealed them up. I made sure to write the date on them and then sealed them inside a bucket (more as a safe storage spot than anything).

Sealed Bokashi

Now I simply wait. Neal Foley suggests 2 weeks as the time needed (although he does mention something along the lines of “the longer the better”), while the City Farmer page says 1 month. Given the small quantity I’m making, I think 2 to 3 weeks should be sufficient. If any of you bokashi ninjas out there have some thoughts to share, please do so. I’m still learning!

In the meantime, I’m going to track down a larger supply of wheat bran and make another batch!
Stay tuned – much more bokashi news on the way!

[tags]bokashi, em, effective microorganisms, friendly microorganisms, compost, composting[/tags]

Written by Compost Guy on January 6th, 2008 with 17 comments.
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Get your own gravatar by visiting Al
#1. January 7th, 2008, at 5:07 AM.

Hi Bentley,

Great job. It is good to start out small.

Since you are in the middle of winter, keeping your bucket of bokashi bags in a warm place [not above 110F] would be a good thing to do. The higher the temp, the faster the fermentation will occur.

Drying the bokashi when it is ready increases the shelf life and decreases the amount of bokashi needed for adding to your compost.
Low heat is best – again, not above 110F – I put a clamp lamp in my oven and tried different watt light bulbs to get the right combination. It takes about 5 days to dry. Your mileage may vary. As the bokashi dries, the fermentation smell will fill the house. I like it, but others don’t.

For your bulk batch call a bakery/food supplier for the bran or go to a local bakery and ask them to order it for you. If you talk with them nice, they may even help you mix it like I do
which would be a lot less hassle than what Brian Smallshaw on Cityfarmer recommends for making large quantities: <- This is my first batch



Get your own gravatar by visiting Compost Guy
#2. January 7th, 2008, at 1:21 PM.

Thanks for the encouragement and additional tips, Al!
I was definitely wondering about the drying process. Hopefully I don’t get kicked out of the house during that phase!

Get your own gravatar by visiting Kevin
#3. February 8th, 2008, at 2:54 AM.

Thanks for this write up. Can you tell me where you found each of the ingredients needed to make a batch.

Buffalo, NY

Get your own gravatar by visiting Compost Guy
#4. February 11th, 2008, at 8:26 PM.

Sorry for the delay getting back to you.
All I needed was wheat bran, molasses, water and some ‘friendly microbes’. I got wheat bran from a place called the “Bulk Barn”. Not sure if you have something comparable in the US. Molasses is readily obtained from most stores. As for the friendly microbe solution, I got that from Great Day Bokashi, here in Canada. You will almost certainly need to find a US supplier since they are not keen to let microbes across the border these days.
Try a search for “bokashi supplies, new york” or something like that. Al (from Great Day) may have a better idea – hopefully he catches this.


Get your own gravatar by visiting karen
#5. April 13th, 2008, at 5:14 PM.

Hi all,
Is it not possible to make Bokashi mix using the microbes already in a ready-made bokashi? I mean, can I get the microbes in that ‘starter culture’ to breed using more bran and molasses, similar to making yoghurt? It just seems silly to have to buy more microbes when I already have some…
Anyone got any ideas?

Karen x
PS I’m new to Bokashi, please be gentle.

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#6. April 14th, 2008, at 1:12 PM.

Hi Karen,
That’s an excellent question! Hopefully Al or one of our other resident bokashi experts will chime in on that one.
I would think that while yes there are certainly plenty of the right microbes present in a ready-made bran mix, but I wonder if there would be an increased chance of contamination from other microbes. After all, you would be introducing far fewer beneficial microbes at the start, thus giving others a chance to get a foothold.
Great idea though! I’m almost tempted to test it out for my next batch!


Get your own gravatar by visiting Jessica
#7. September 3rd, 2008, at 10:04 PM.

We get our bran from a feed barn, or horse feed place. We usually get a 20kg sack and do the whole process on a warm day in the back yard – put the bran on a clean tarp., sprinkle on the EM mixture with a watering can and mix it/rake it in then pack it in a large garbage bin to ferment. Still not sure about how long to leave it – next door says it should have a skin of white mold on the top, (she’s the expert!) but she’s away right now and I have some that’s fermented for 2 weeks, but might not be quite ready. Anyway, once it is ready we spread it out on the tarp in the sunshine and dry it thoroughly over the course of one or two afternoons. This amount lasts us all year. Trouble is, it’s getting rather late in the year to dry it now, hope we don’t have to ferment it over the entire winter – which has happened before!
Oh, and re: the above comment – we usually put a kg of the old bokashi in with the new stuff when we add the EM.

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#8. September 8th, 2008, at 12:12 PM.

Wow – that sounds like a great way to do it, Jessica!

Get your own gravatar by visiting Randy Wiser
#9. March 15th, 2009, at 7:19 PM.

Couple things. Food co-ops usually sell bulk amounts of most grains products, use google to find. I found that those 5 gal (sometimes larger) water “coolers” that one sees on construction sites makes a good airtight bokashi fermenter. Has a spiget in the bottom, tight fitting push on or screw on and its insolated. Much cheaper than any of the bokashi buckets I’ve seen and sometimes can be found at discount stores (found mine at Big Lots)


Get your own gravatar by visiting Eva
#10. January 19th, 2010, at 10:18 PM.

I am also wondering about adding finished bokashi as a ‘culture’ instead of using new bought stuff. Would you dig it up out of the garden? I met a lady years ago who was working at an eco resort and they were using bokashi to deal with all the cooked food scraps. They were in a very remote location and weren’t buying in bran or the EM, just using old mixtures to activate new mixtures but it seems like no one talks about this as an option. Unfortunately back then I didn’t pay enough attention to exactly how they were managing this. I have been working in developing countries and something like bokashi would be a great option for dealing with food scraps in slum areas- but only if you can, after the initial outlay, continue without buying anything.

Get your own gravatar by visiting bob prochazka
#11. March 6th, 2010, at 10:20 AM.

I bought 50 lbs. of wheat bran from an animal feed store outside of Milwaukee for $11.75 including tax. Question is, how badly was this stuff sprayed during the wheat growing process and how badly would that affect the end product?
No. 2. How can I tell how active my EM solution is. It has been sitting in a 50 degree basement all winter in a closed plastic bottle. I have been treating all of the kitchen scraps all winter and while the smell has varied every time I open the bucket up, it has been acceptable with different pickling odors. I put a 55 gal. plastic garbage can on wheels in the basement and have been filling that when I need to empty my 5 gallon buckets of bokashi after leaving them sit for four to six weeks.
No. 3. Can I take the pickled kitchen garbage waste that has sat and pickled for four to six weeks and make compost tea install of burying it? That would be easier.

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#12. September 26th, 2010, at 9:35 PM.

2010 Northwest Permaculture Convergence – Saturday & Sunday — talks about making Bokashi [...]

Get your own gravatar by visiting Betsy
#13. October 20th, 2010, at 6:10 PM.

I am new to Bokashi and EM. It was recommended to me by my sister in switzerland who uses it in her horses water and as a feed. Are there any horse experts out there that can assist me or give me their opinions? My horse has seasonal allergies/heaves and I have heard that Bokashi will help her in many ways and I can slowly wean her off the traditional drugs

Get your own gravatar by visiting Lee_in_Iowa
#14. March 28th, 2011, at 12:21 AM.

I just made my first batch of bokashi with ALL around-the-house ingredients–NO expensive bottle of EMs. It came out just like it was supposed to, very pickle-y smelling and then with the white mold over the top. Here’s my recipe for “essential microbes” to mix with a quart of warm water and about a third a cup of molasses:

a couple tablespoons of yogurt,
a good-sized pinch of any soil inoculants you have around (for peas, beans, alfalfa),
a tiny smidgeon of sea salt,
about a teaspoon of mixed minerals (actually, some health food stuff I had for people),
a little of a fertilizer with “mycorhizoids” in it,
about four tablespoons from the very bottom of my Rubbermaid worm bins (for the most anaerobic bacteria in the house!).

Shake it well, leave it open overnight in a warm place, then put a lid on it for a week.

Shake it again to get everything well mixed, and start mixing it with about 12 pounds of wheat bran ($1.12 a pound at my nearby health food store; ASK; they are buying 50 pound bags and may be able to give you a better deal from what they have stashed in the “back” of the store.)

Once i had the bran well-wet-down, I covered it and waited. After about 2 days, I got hold of a good bucket and took some very pickle-y bran out and used it to start bokashi. That’s going very well, seems okay to use it earlier.

So, that’s what I know….. (My pix are over on; come join us!)

Get your own gravatar by visiting Lee_in_Iowa
#15. March 28th, 2011, at 12:42 AM.

Well, darn. Forgot I only used half the wheat bran in the first batch–only 6 pounds. Sorry to keep revising…. Got it now.

So, no need for the $20 “EM”s and no need for the fancy shmancy $70 bucket, either. No need for a spigot at the bottom. Just any old closeable container, and this wheat/pickle-y concoction.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Adam
#16. June 5th, 2012, at 7:58 PM.

The best source that I’ve found for the wheat bran is at the local feed store. I got “Red Wheat Bran”. Not sure of the difference other than maybe a little color. 50 pound bags are $13 at Stockman’s here in Phoenix.

Get your own gravatar by visiting Damon
#17. August 1st, 2012, at 12:40 PM.

I was wondering if you had an experience with bokashi. Does it have to be wheat bran or could you use something like a cottonseed meal as well?

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