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Compost Meat, Fish, and Dairy with the Bokashi Composting Method

Bokashi composting allows you to compost much more waste generated in your home which ordinarily, would not be suitable for the compost heap.  It is a composting method which uses anaerobic bacteria (those which live in low oxygen environments) to ferment (or pickle) the waste and is small enough to fit in a kitchen, making it ideal for urban homes.

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This is my Bokashi Composting system produced by Vermitek.

How Does Bokashi Composting Work?

The beneficial microbes are on rice bran which work in a low oxygen system to ferment the waste added to the bin.

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This is the bran where the effective microbes (EM) are located. The bran is sprinkled on the waste in layers.

You can compost a lot more kitchen waste in these systems than you can in a vermicomposting or worm farm system including items which would normally attract vermin or predators to your heap. Bokashi systems are a two-fold process to get all the benefits of composting. The first is the fermentation or pickling, the second is actually composting the fermented waste.

What You Can Compost

The great thing about this method of composting is the fact you can add meat, fish and dairy waste and it can be composted. In this type of system you can add the following:

• Prepared foods
• Cooked foods
• Dairy
• Cooked meat
• Raw meat
• Cooked Fish
• Raw fish
• Eggs
• Bread, grains, cereals, pasta
• Fruit peelings, cores and pits
• Vegetable stems, peels, off cuts or trimmings
• Teabags, coffee grinds
• Small bones
• Deadheaded flowers

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This is inside my Bokashi bin, you can see the chicken bones, egg shells, teabags, fruit and vegetable peelings.

You want to avoid large bone pieces because these will take too long to breakdown and avoid large quantities of liquid as this will just run through the false bottom or screen in a commercially bought Bokashi composting system and will not be in contact with the microorganisms which do the work.

Benefits of Bokashi

Aside from the ability to compost almost anything, Bokashi systems are low odor and the odor which does occur smells a little like vinegar, pickling or winemaking. 

The system does not attract bugs like fruit flies in the area it is held (which is a bonus if you collect the waste in the kitchen or somewhere inside the house).

Bokashi composting doesn’t attract vermin like rodents and larger predators are less like to be attracted too. It is thought this is due to the acidity of the waste once it is fermented.

More beneficial bacteria for the soil. A greater diversity of bacteria means your plants are more likely to have more nutrients available to them which in turn means they will be healthier and able to tolerate heat stress better, resist diseases, cope better with pests and be better for you with higher nutrient content.

The process is fast and efficient. Fermentation takes 1 to 2 weeks and composting takes about 2 weeks in summer. With the exception of bones and large hard pits or stems from produce the material is composted within 2 weeks.

During the fermentation stage, a liquid is produced like in a worm composting bin which can be diluted to make a tea or liquid fertilizer for fruit, vegetables, trees, herbaceous shrubs and perennials, flowers, container plants and house plants. You can even use the Bokashi juice or leachate undiluted to help prevent drain clogs!  I add it to my compost heap to help provide a kickstart to the pile.

Emma Raven has been gardening, cooking, canning and home brewing for most of her life. Formulation scientist, blogger, home brewer and avid gardener. Born in a village on the northern east coast of England, she now calls the Wasatch Mountains of Utah home. Find Emma at Misfit Gardening, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here. 


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