Learn how to bokashi like a pro!
It turns out you don’t need a lot of space to get into composting – if you’ve got enough room to accommodate a bin about the size of a kitchen appliance, then you’ve got the room to compost!
Enter the bokashi bin. The term “bokashi” is a Japanese word that means “fermented organic matter”. (Okay, technically we are talking about fermenting and not composting…but the end results are similar).
What is bokashi?
Bokashi is a system that uses a bucket or bin with a sealable lid, a tap, and a grain mix (e.g. wheat bran, barley or rice) inoculated with effective micro-organisms or an enzyme spray. It is used to ferment kitchen waste, including meat and dairy, into a safe soil-building compost and nutrient-rich tea for your plants.
How does the bokashi bin work?
Once you have purchased or made your own bokashi bin, you place your food scraps – including those normally ‘un-compostable’ items like meat and dairy – into the bin. Then you sprinkle the mix (you can even make your own mix) or spray an enzyme accelerator over the scraps, layering scraps with mix as the bin fills. Next, squash the scraps down, getting out as much air as you can followed by placing the lid tightly on the bin. As the composting process is anaerobic your bokashi bin does not require oxygen so can be sealed.
You also need to drain the bokashi juice produced using the tap at the base of the bin once or twice a week. (See below for how this can be used)!
When your bokashi bin is full, add a final layer of mix/spray and let the contents ferment and reduce in size (continue to drain off the liquid regularly).
After about 3 weeks, you have readily decomposable fermented semi-solids (you can tell the fermentation period is over as the food scraps will look similar to pickles and if you have left it longer there may be a white cotton-like fungi growth on the surface – don’t worry, this shows that a good fermentation process has occurred).
When it’s time to empty the bin/bucket, the contents can be buried in the ground, added to a compost bin/heap (all those usually unsuitable scraps for compost heaps and worm farms are now safe to add) or gifted to a green-fingered friend or community garden.
What goes into the bin?
Unlike traditional compost bins or worm farms, the bokashi bin can take all of your organic kitchen waste (though it is best to avoid large bones and excessive amounts of liquid):
- fruit &veg
- raw and cooked meats and fish
- dairy (e.g. cheese)
- breads, cakes, pastries, biscuits & desserts
- coffee grounds & tea bags
- prepared foods
- wilted flowers
Top tips to bokashi like a pro
- Break or chop large waste into smaller pieces before adding.
- Only add fresh food waste to the bokashi bin, never add rotten or mouldy waste, milk, juice, water, garden waste, pet poo, paper or plastic to your bokashi bin.
- It usually takes a household of 4 people who eat at home most nights about three weeks to fill a 12L litre bokashi bin, so if you’re committed you’re best to get/make two bins – so that you can still bokashi while the full one ferments.
How to use your bokashi juice
You definitely don’t want to let this powerful by-product go to waste!
You can use it in two ways:
- As a highly effective drain cleaner – pour it directly into kitchen and bathroom drains, toilets and septic systems to help prevent algae build-up and control odour. And you can feel good about it because it’s good bacteria, so it will fight against the bad bacteria as it enters the waterways too and help to clean them up.
- As a plant fertiliser – but because it’s so strong you’ll need to dilute with water first at a 100:1 ratio (that's 100 parts water to 1 part bokashi juice, or approximately 2 teaspoons of juice for every litre of water.)
What are the benefits?
Bokashi can deal with ALL types of food waste, including all those things that you can’t put in compost or worm farms, like cooked food, meat bones, citrus peels/onion skins, eggshells and dairy.
Being compact in size, easy to use (designed to be used indoors), self-contained, convenient and hygienic, the bins are ideal for households large and small. You could even get a slightly larger version to use in the workplace.
But what about the smell?
Glad you asked! If used properly, the bokashi bin will not smell. In fact, the bucket and mix work together to eliminate the odours and unpleasantness typically associated with decaying food. In fact, if you take off the lid you’ll probably find a mild aroma similar to apple cider vinegar, and when the lid is closed there is no smell at all.
And there you have it. With all this new knowledge, you’re on your way to becoming a bokashi bin pro in no time. Now all that’s left is get your hands on a kit and start your journey. Good luck!