Making Bokashi

At the heart of bokashi composting is the microbe laced bran that you use to inoculate and thus pickle your food wastes. It's pretty easy to get this bran online but it's also easy to make a batch up for yourself - and doing it yourself naturally saves money.


How to Make Bokashi

To make your own you need these ingredients.

  • EM, effective microorganisms - some people try to save money by using their own microbe concoction. This does work to some extent but from what I see it looks like they get going with just the lactic acid bacteria. Yeasts may or may not be present and I pretty sure the photosynthetic bacteria are missing altogether. For me I recommend buying your microbes to ensure you get the three types of microbes including several strains of lactic acid bacteria, yeasts, and photosynthetic bacteria.

EM-1 Microbes

The only tricky ingredient is the EM-1, effective microorganisms or something equivalent. As microbes can not always pass borders easily you need to find a source for your country.

For the United States EM-1 is available though Teraganix

Canadians can order an EM equivalent product at The Organic Gardener's Pantry.

If you are from another country contact EMRO Japan to find a source for your area.

  • Molasses - you can use either the type you'd find at the grocery store or the feed store.
  • Water with no chlorine residues. You can use tap water as long as you leave it sitting out for at least 24 hours before using it.
  • Wheat or Rice bran
  • Mixing tub or tarp depending on how much you're going to make
  • Airtight container to hold your bran while it ferments.
  • Time

When I was working with my town we made this demo video about how to make your own bokashi bran.

Recipe for 10 Pounds of Bokashi

  • 4T - 60 ml EM-1 or equivalent microbes
  • 4T - 60 ml Molasses
  • 10 cups - 2.5 liters water - no chlorine residues
  • 10 lbs - 4.5 kg bran

Dissolve the molasses in the water. Add the EM microbes. Put the bran in a container big enough to hold it. Add the liquid and stir it up well with your hands. The mixture should be damp enough to hold together when you squeeze it into a ball but not so wet liquid is dripping from it. Adjust the moisture by adding either a bit more liquid or more bran.

Put the damp bran into an airtight container.A dark garbage bag in fine. Squeeze out all the air and fasten the top securely. Let it sit in a warm place out of the way for a minimum of two weeks. It's okay to leave it longer.

There may be some white mold on the fermented bran at the end of the two weeks. This is good. If however the mold is black or green it means either some air got in or the material was too wet.

For storing long term dry the bran well. Ten pounds of bokashi would last the average family 6-10 months. Properly dried it can be stored for several years. Store in an airtight container out of direct light.

You might decide to get together with friends and make a big batch at once. Here are the amounts you need to make 50 pounds of the bran. For a family this would be enough for several years.

Recipe for 50 pounds of Bokashi

  • 6 ounces, 3/4 cup or 180 ml of EM-1 or equivalent
  • 6 ounces, 3/4 cup or 180 ml of molasses
  • 3 gallons or 12.5 liters water
  • 50 lbs -23 kg bran

Use the same method as above. The water needed will depend to some extent on where you live. If it is very humid you will likely need less water, very dry more water. Test by squeezing a handful of the bokashi together.

For long term storage dry and then store in airtight containers out of direct sunlight.

How Much Money Do I Save?

I just spoke with the local feed store here and can get a 25 kg or about 55 lb bag of bran for $20. I can buy a liter of microbes from a Canadian supplier for about $30. I only need $6 worth for my bran. The rest I can store for later batches. I figure I can make a 3 to 4 year supply of bokashi for about $28.

For premade bokashi I would pay about $15 for 5 pounds from one supplier.

Sourcing Ingredients

Your bran and molasses are available either at the grocery store or at a feed store if you live in an agricultural area. Water comes from the tap left to sit out for a couple of days. The only tricky ingredient is the EM-1, effective microorganisms or something equivalent. As microbes can not always pass borders easily you need to find a source for your country.

For the United States EM-1 is available though Teraganix

Canadians can order an EM equivalent product at The Organic Gardener's Pantry.

If you are from another country contact EMRO Japan to find a source for your area.


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