If you are concerned about the environment but live in a city, have a small growing space or yard, or just don’t feel like messing with large, outdoor compost bins, then bokashi composting might be the right method for you!

outdoor compost streudel

Bokashi is a method of kitchen composting developed in Japan where the typical home is the size of a US bedroom and the typical kitchen could fit inside my shoe. Composting is facilitated by anaerobic microorganisms and takes place in a covered bucket under the sink.

In the Urban Composting, Part 1, I provided a “how-to” guide for would be composters. In this diary, I will provide instructions for making the compost catalyzer along with discussion of other potential uses such as the treatment of sewage.

Purchased bokashi mix is made from high grade rice bran, blackstrap molasses, water and EM (or effective microorganisms), a proprietary mixture of starter bacterias that can be extended indefinitely much like yogurt,or sourdough or Amish Friendship bread.

Since rice bran is difficult to find in the US, most homemade bokashi mix uses wheat bran, which can be purchased in 50 lb. bags from animal feed or health food stores. Written directions follow the embedded video.

two dudes making bokashi

You will need water (preferably warm), 50 lb. bag of wheat germ, molasses, EM, several five gallon buckets and a wheelbarrow or large container. Mix 6 oz EM and 6 oz molasses. Measurements are not critical. You are mixing equal parts EM and molasses. Molasses feeds the mixture of aerobic and anaerobic microorganisms in the same way honey feeds yeast when you make bread. Mix it up with about four gallons of warm water in a five gallon bucket.

Cut the wheat bran bag across the top (you will be reusing the bag). Dump half of the bran into the wheelbarrow. Pour in half of the water mixture. Mix it up with your hands or a shovel until it forms clumps in your hand. Do the same with the second half of the bran and EM mixture.

Once the bokashi catalyzer if fully mixed, put it back into the paper wheat bag. Press it down (similar to packing brown sugar) as fermentation is an anaerobic process). The bag will help to absorb extra moisture. You can use the plastic bucket to help pour the wheat. When you are done, press down the mixture thoroughly, then bunch up the bag and place it into a black plastic bag to further eliminate air. Store it out of the sun for three weeks. It should smell pleasantly sweet and sour; It is alright if there is a white mold on top (this is yeast). However, if it smells putrid or there are other colors of mold it is contaminated and must be discarded.

You can make smaller batches and store it in ziplocs in your pantry as well.

Completed bokashi may be used in your kitchen composter (see Part 1), applied directly to your garden, fed to animals, or even sprinkled on your own food. You can use it in your backyard composter as well. You can apply it to your septic system to reduce smell. I use it in my cats’ litter boxes and in a small outdoor doggie septic tank to compost dog waste.

To use for kitchen composting, dry it in the sun and then store it in plastic bags.