A bokashi kitchen composting system is a really good way of transforming kitchen waste into nutrient-rich soil conditioner.
It will deal with almost all kitchen food waste including cooked and uncooked meats and fish, dairy products and cooked leftovers which can't be added to a normal composting system.
Bokashi bran, a dry mixture of bran, molasses and EM-1 Micro-organisms, is mixed in with the food scraps in a sealable container which can be kept in the kitchen. Once full, the mix is left for 2 weeks to ferment, then the contents are added to a normal compost bin or wormery, or dug into a hole in the ground and buried. The fermented matter breaks down very quickly into rich compost.
Bokashi bran is normally purchased ready-made. The initial cost of purchasing the bins, plus the ongoing cost of the bokashi bran sometimes puts people off using what is otherwise a really good system. It may be more economical to make your own bokashi bran.
On average each bin-full of waste will use about 200 grams of bokashi bran, costing about £1 in the UK.
If you are fermenting a lot of waste, or if you can team up with some other people, it can be cheaper to make your own bran.
There are various recipes for bokashi bran on the web, but most work with large quantities and aren't suitable for normal home use. Some make their own mix of micro-organisms - probably not advisable unless you know what you are doing!
However, it is possible to purchase the EM-1 Effective Micro-Organisms and make a smaller quantity of the standard bran mixture yourself at home. (*see Amazon UK for EM-1 and wheatbran, or see EM Sustainable Living for EM-1 and molasses.)
This is a very simple and easy recipe for a batch of EM bokashi bran, enough to supply an average home for at least a month. The recipe can be scaled up if you want to make a few month's supply, but remember that it works best when fresh.
Mix one tablespoon (15ml) of molasses into 250ml of warm water, then add one tablespoon (15ml) of EM-1. Pour the mixture into 500g of wheat bran and mix very thoroughly. The bran will expand as it absorbs the water. The bran should feel moist but not soggy.
When it's well mixed, seal it up in an airtight container and leave in a warm, dark place for about 2-3 weeks.
VERY IMPORTANT - don't open it up at all for at least two weeks, not even to have a quick peep, or the process won't work!
When the time is up, the bran should smell fermented and there may be some white mould on the surface, which is a good sign.
The mixture is now ready to use, but keeps better if it's well dried. Spread out on a tray away from direct sunlight until completely dry then store in a cool dry place.
The bran should remain active for at least a year.
There is a good demonstration of how to make bokashi bran in the video at the bottom of our post on Bokashi Composting.
Other uses for bokashi bran
Many people give bokashi bran to their chickens to reduce the acidity of their droppings and keep their digestive systems healthy. The bran is sprinkled on the droppings below their perches, and also fed at a rate of 3-5% of the weight of their feed.
Bokashi bran is also said to be a good feed supplement for horses. Apparently about 100g per day can improve digestion, re-balance the gut flora and boost the immune system.
A useful book is *Bokashi Composting: Scraps to Soil in Weeks by Adam Footer.