With bokashi you can turn your food scraps, including meat, fish and dairy, into nutrient rich compost. Add your kitchen waste and a handful of bokashi bran to the airtight container and allow the micro-organisms to work their magic.
After two weeks the contents can be safely transferred to your compost bin or dug into the garden.
One of the best things about having a bokashi bin in the kitchen is how easy it is just to scrape in whatever’s left on your plate after a meal – bacon rind, broccoli stumps, that last defeating forkful of spag bol – it all goes in.
Table of contents:
- What is the Bokashi Composting System?
- Bokashi Juice: A Miracle By-Product
- Benefits of Bokashi Composting
- Why We Like Bokashi
- Getting Started with a Bokashi Kitchen Composter
- Transferring Your Bokashi Compost to the Garden
- Bokashi Bin Troubleshooting
- Bokashi Composting FAQ
What is the Bokashi Composting System?
Instead of composting only selected kitchen waste, the Bokashi Kitchen Composter System allows you to transform ALL your solid food waste – including cooked foods, meat, fish and cheese – into special nutrient-rich compost.
It’s a great way to reduce your domestic waste and do your garden some good at the same time. The bucket is small and neat enough to slot into a corner in your kitchen and with an airtight lid, there are no smells and no flies.
Recycle all your food waste
After each meal, just pop your food scraps into the airtight 15L container along with a handful of bokashi bran. Bokashi is a Japanese word meaning ‘Fermented Organic Matter’. It is a pleasant smelling, bran-based material made with a culture of effective micro-organisms, which help to ferment your waste and act as a compost activator.
Bokashi Juice: A Miracle By-Product
The ‘pickling’ process is anaerobic, so each time you add waste to the bin, you should compress it down to get rid of any air, and replace the lid making sure it is sealed tight. As the organic matter breaks down it produces a light brown liquid called bokashi juice, which is alive with beneficial micro-organisms and can be drained off and diluted as a plant feed, or poured down drains to prevent algae build up and odours. The process does not produce smells or attract flies, so the container can be safely kept inside the home.
Benefits of Bokashi Composting
- No smells because friendly, safe bacteria is used
- No flies because the bokashi bucket has an air-tight seal
- Small and compact, so slots neatly into any kitchen
- Meat, fish and dairy products can all be safely composted
- Fermented organic material will improve the soil structure in your garden and decontaminate the soil from harmful pathogens and pollutants
- Plants will bloom when planted with bokashi compost
- Bokashi juice, the liquid fertiliser by-product will give your house plants a boost
- Be part of the low-impact living solution by recycling and redirecting food waste away from landfill
Why We Like Bokashi
In our house, we try our best to eat fresh, locally produced food, and when you eat a lot of fresh produce, you end up with a lot of kitchen scraps.
Much of this waste you can’t recycle with a traditional compost heap for fear of attracting vermin. Plate scrapings, egg shells, the lump of brie forgotten about in the back of the fridge, all went to landfill.
Two years ago a friend told us about bokashi, the bran based material used to ferment and compost organic kitchen waste. It sounded just the ticket, and we invested in 2 buckets, so while one is busy fermenting we can be busy filling the other. It has to be one of the most effective ways to recycle food scraps – it slots neatly under the sink, there are no bad smells, and we use the juice to give the plants a boost and keep the drains free from algae.
2 Years of Bokashi Composting – what have we learnt?
2 years on, the bokashi composting system has simply become part of our kitchen routine – eat, scrape your plates into the bucket and and add a handful of bokashi bran, it’s as easy as that. We’ve learnt to add a touch more bran if there are any odours and we’ve learnt not to add anything with too much moisture. So, we tend to throw tea bags and juicy fruit scraps straight on the compost heap and keep our bokashi bins for plate scrapings and other kitchen scraps. We empty full buckets of waste into the compost bin at the back of the garden, or bury it where it’s needed.
But, mainly we’ve learnt that it’s very hard to mess up with Bokashi. There’s no need to get hung up on exact amounts of compost versus bran. Just add your day’s organic kitchen waste, grab a handful of Bokashi bran, bish bash bosh, perfect compost. And, of course, every 3 days or so, drain the bin of any Bokashi juice, add to an empty 2 litre bottle, top up with water and give your plants a nutritious feed.
With fortnightly roadside food-waste collections being introduced across the UK, you can benefit from Bokashi even if you don’t have a garden to dispose of the compost. Bokashi composting is a great way to keep the odours away and produce feed for your house plants, even if you intend to transfer the waste to the roadside bin every 2 weeks.
Getting Started with a Bokashi Kitchen Composter
The bokashi bin’s so easy to set up and use, it really adds very little extra time to your daily routine and it’s so satisfying to know that all those food scraps are going to such good use.
What’s in the box?
The kit includes:
- A bokashi indoor composter complete with drainage tap, lid, handle and inner drain tray
- A scoop/drain tray to collect excess liquid
- A plastic press to compress the material down
- 600g of bokashi bran (about 2 months supply)
Please note: The Bokashi Kitchen Waste Composter holds on average 2 weeks worth of food waste, which will take approximately 2 weeks to break down. Therefore, we recommend that 2 of these composters are purchased and used in rotation.
Setting up your Bokashi Bin
Before use, fit the tap to the bokashi bin. Make sure you put 1 rubber washer on the inside and outside of the container and tighten the plastic bolt just enough to create a watertight seal. Insert the inner drain tray and you’re ready to add organic kitchen waste.
How to use the Bokashi Kitchen Composter in 8 simple steps
- Add your food scraps, whether cooked or uncooked, to the bokashi bucket.
Tip: Organic waste will compost more effectively if cut into small pieces.
- Sprinkle a small handful of bokashi bran on top of the food scraps. Ideally, all the waste should be covered with bokashi bran.
- Press the material down lightly using the plastic press supplied with your kit or a small plate. The fermenting process is anaerobic and this will help extract air from the organic matter.
- Keep the lid on tight at all times – the less air, the better.
- Draw off any excess liquid produced using the tap at the base of the bucket approximately every 2 days. This allows the waste to break down at a quicker rate.
Tip: Dilute the bokashi juice at a rate of 1:100 parts water. This can then be used as plant feed or poured undiluted down the sink to prevent algae build-up and control odours.
- Repeat the process until the bokashi bin is full.
- Once the bucket is full, leave it with the lid on tight for around 2 weeks. This allows the fermentation process to work its magic. Excess bokashi juice should be drained off at regular intervals throughout fermentation.
Tip: In the meantime, you can start filling your second bucket if you have one. When the second bucket is full, empty the first. Give the bucket a good rinse before filling it again.
- After 2 weeks the bokashi compost is ready to use. It can either be directly dug in to the garden or added to your compost heap.
Tip: If you want to add a full bucket of fermented bokashi waste to your compost bin, dig a hole in your pile first and cover it over with some grass clippings or prunings.
Transferring Your Bokashi Compost to the Garden
It’s unbelievable how quickly bokashi compost can recondition the soil and give plants a boost. Mind you, bokashi compost is quite acidic at first, so if you dig the waste straight into the garden, make sure you leave it a few weeks before planting on top of it.
Kitchen waste treated with Bokashi will break down incredibly quickly when transferred to the garden, but for best results, read our quick guide:
1. Dig the bokashi compost into the garden
Fermented bokashi waste doesn’t necessarily have to be thrown on the compost heap, it can easily be dug straight into the garden. For a full bucket, all you need to do is dig a trench about 1 metre wide by 40 cm deep.
2. Drain off excess juice
Before you tip in your waste, make sure any excess bokashi juice is drained off, or the mixture may be too acidic for the plants. Remember, bokashi juice is potent stuff and needs to be diluted 1 part juice to 100 parts water before being used as a plant feed. Empty the contents of your bokashi bucket into the ditch and spread it evenly. Ideally, it should be spread about 1 inch thick. As the newly fermented compost is quite acidic, try not to empty it too near to plant and tree roots. Don’t worry, it quickly becomes less acidic after being buried.
3. Bury it and wait
Cover the waste over with around 3 to 4 inches of soil and forget about it – that’s all you have to do! After about 4 to 6 weeks, depending on the type of waste and time of year, the bokashi compost should be completely broken down and you should have a rich dark brown soil to plant into or transfer to other parts of the garden.
…or simply empty it into your compost bin
Of course, the fermented bokashi waste can equally well be added to your compost bin. Again, drain off any excess liquid and spread the contents of the container thinly on the compost heap. Ideally, cover the waste with a shovel full of soil or other organic material, such as grass clippings, to help it break down.
Bokashi Bin Troubleshooting
You’ve embarked on your bokashi composting adventure, you’re feeling good about your green credentials, but to your dismay your bokashi bin leaks…
My Bokashi Bin Leaks! How do I Fix It?
This is a problem for two reasons:
- It smells bad
- The composting process is anaerobic; a leaking bin means air can get in and your waste may not ferment properly.
So, what do you do?
Well, you need a two pronged attack – fix the leak and reduce the juice. If, after that, your bokashi bucket still leaks, you’ll need to replace the tap’s washers.
1. Fix the leak
Assuming the leak is coming from the tap at the base of the unit, the likelyhood is that the silicon seal isn’t doing its job. Remember, it should only be finger tight. Any tighter and the washer may stretch. You can’t access the nut without first removing the waste, so try to tighten it by turning the tap clockwise. If this doesn’t work, try applying some silicone sealant to where the tap joins the bokashi bin. Otherwise, I’m afraid, it’s a case of removing the waste, replacing the seals and making sure the nut is only finger tight.
2. Reduce the juice
You can easily reduce the amount of juice your bokashi bin produces by only adding dry material. Avocado skins, egg shells, potato peelings and bread crusts, for example, won’t produce much liquid. Fruit scraps like pineapple peelings and apple cores, and tea bags do produce a lot of juice, and for now at least, should go straight on the compost heap, or dug directly into the garden. While your bin is drying out, stand it on a tray just in case there is any further leakage.
3. Replace the washers
The tap screws on to the bokashi bucket and a rubber washer should be placed on both the inside and the outside of the unit. If the nut holding the tap is too tight, the washer may stretch and the seal will be broken.
Consider replacing the washers with good quality washing machine inlet hose washers to ensure a water tight seal. You can buy a set of six from your local hardware store for about £1.50. These won’t stretch, which means you can tighten the nut more than you could with the standard issue silicone washers. Once the tap is in position, fill the bucket with water and test for leaks before adding your next batch of bokashi compost.
Bokashi Composting FAQ
Use, improve and troubleshoot your bokashi kitchen composting system. Questions answered and advice offered to help you get the best out of your bokashi composter.
You can add cooked food, meat, fish, egg and dairy products to your bokashi bin, plus of course, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds and dried tea bags. You shouldn’t add bones, paper, cardboard, or any liquids, such as fruit juice and milk.
Whether or not you can add tea bags to a bokashi composter has nothing to do with the tea itself. It has to do with how moist the tea bags are. The EMs (effective micro-organisms) won’t work properly if the contents of the bin are too wet. If you let the tea bags or tea leaves dry out, on a saucer on the windowsill for example, you can then safely add them to your bokashi bin.
The best way is to transfer your bran to a tupperware container or an old ice cream tub with a sealed lid. This way your bran will stay fresh and won’t dry out, and the EMs will be more effective.
This could be down to one of, or a combination of, 3 factors:
1. Not enough bokashi bran has been added.
Add a bit more bokashi bran each time you add material. Try to sprinkle the bran evenly over the material so that it is covered more or less completely. Cutting your waste into small pieces will make this easier.
2. There’s too much liquid in the bucket.
Drain off the bokashi juice more frequently. For best results, you should try to to draw off the liquid about once every 2 days. It is also important not to add material that is too wet to the bin. The effective micro-organisms will stop working properly if the material is too moist. If you want to add tea bags, let them dry out first and throw wet food scraps like melon pulp and seeds directly onto your compost heap.
3. Your bucket isn’t air-tight.
Make sure your kitchen composter’s lid is sealed tight each time you add waste. The pickling process is anaerobic, so the waste needs an air tight environment to ferment properly. For this reason, it is also important to press the material down each time scraps are added to exclude any air pockets.
Absolutely nothing. White mold is nothing to worry about and your waste is fermenting properly. You should carry on doing what you’re doing.
Unfortunately, this is a sign that your bokashi compost isn’t fermenting correctly. It may be too moist, or the lid may not have been sealed tight. You’re going to have to get rid of this batch the old fashioned way – empty it into a compostable bag and put it in the dustbin.
To successfully ‘pickle’ your waste, the lid on your bokashi bin must be sealed tight. As an extra precaution you can place a sheet of plastic over the waste before replacing the lid.
If your bokashi bin leakes, your container’s tap may not be functioning properly. The tap may have been over-tightened, breaking the seal. Try loosening the bolt, make sure the washers are in place and do it up again but only finger tight. If this fails, you may need to replace the rubber washers. For more info, see Bokashi Bin Troubleshooting above.
Yes, as the food waste is fermented using bacteria rather than decomposed, it can be transferred directly to your garden soil without needing further time to mature. This means that nearly all carbon, energy and nutrients enter the soil without being emitted as greenhouse gases, or escaping as heat.