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DIY Bokashi Bran: A Step-by-Step Guide to Making it at Home

Updated: 2 days ago



Welcome to this step-by-step guide on how to make bokashi bran at home! Bokashi bran is a crucial ingredient in the bokashi composting process, which allows you to turn organic waste into nutrient-rich fertilizer for your plants.


By making your own bokashi bran at home, you save money and have complete control over the ingredients and quality of your compost. In this blog post, I'll walk you through the simple steps of making bokashi bran using everyday household items. So, let's start and create our sustainable solution for waste management!





Introduction to Bokashi Bran and Its Benefits


If you've never heard of Bokashi Bran, you're in for a treat! This all-natural product has been making waves in the world of composting and gardening, and for good reason.


Bokashi Bran is made up of various organic materials like wheat bran and molasses infused with beneficial microorganisms that break down food waste quickly and without any unpleasant odors.


When added to your compost bin or used as a soil amendment, Bokashi Bran helps to increase microbial activity to create rich, nutrient-dense soil.


Plus, unlike traditional composting methods, Bokashi Bran can handle meat, dairy, and other foods that typically wouldn't be composted.


So, if you're looking for a way to reduce your food waste and improve your garden simultaneously, Bokashi Bran is worth considering!





Brief overview of the Bokashi composting method


If you're looking for an easy way to reduce your household waste and create nutrient-rich soil for your plants, Bokashi composting might be your solution.


This method involves fermenting your food scraps and other organic material with the help of Bokashi microorganisms. Unlike traditional composting, which requires decomposition through heat and oxygen, Bokashi composting occurs in an anaerobic environment, so you don't have to worry about turning your pile or managing the carbon-to-nitrogen ratio.


Plus, because you're fermenting your waste instead of decomposing it, you can even toss in things like meat, dairy, and bread that you might not want to include in a traditional compost pile.


Once your Bokashi bucket is complete, bury the contents in your garden or add them to your traditional compost pile. You'll have rich, fertile soil teeming with beneficial microorganisms in a few weeks.


Benefits of using Bokashi bran compared to traditional composting


Unlike traditional composting, bokashi bran uses a fermentation process that breaks down organic waste in just a few weeks. Plus, it doesn't require turning or maintenance like traditional composting.


Another benefit of using bokashi bran is that it can compost various materials, including meat, dairy, and citrus. Say goodbye to slow composting and limited waste materials with bokashi bran.


What You'll Need To Make Bokashi Bran



List of ingredients and tools needed


To make bokashi bran at home, you'll need the following items:


  • Wheat bran (or bran from another grain like rice)

  • Molasses

  • Microbial inoculants (such as M-1 or lactobacillus)

  • Airtight container for fermenting

  • Water



Wheat bran


Wheat bran is derived from the outer layer of the wheat kernel and is high in insoluble fiber. Wheat bran is often used as the base material for making bokashi bran due to its high carbon content, which is necessary for the efficient growth of bokashi microbes.


The structure of wheat bran also provides an ideal environment for these microbes to thrive. It has a large surface area, allowing for more microbial activity. Furthermore, wheat bran is readily available and affordable, making it a practical choice for many people.


Rice bran


Rice bran, on the other hand, is a byproduct of the rice milling process and is rich in antioxidants and vitamins.


Rice bran is an excellent choice for making bokashi bran due to its high nutrient content and ability to support microbial growth.


The structure of rice bran provides an ideal environment for these beneficial microbes to thrive. When used in making bokashi bran, rice bran can effectively harbor these microbes, facilitating the fermentation process essential in bokashi composting.


Wheat bran vs Rice bran


Both wheat and rice bran can be used when making bokashi bran as they provide an excellent environment for beneficial microbes to thrive. However, there are some differences between the two that may influence your choice:


  1. Nutrient Content: Rice bran has a higher oil content than wheat bran, which can provide more energy for the microbes during fermentation. On the other hand, wheat bran is high in protein, which can also benefit microbial growth.

  2. Texture and Structure: Wheat bran has a coarser texture and larger particle size than rice bran. This might affect the rate at which the microbes break down and ferment the material.

  3. Availability and Cost: One brand type might be more readily available and cost-effective depending on your location. For instance, rice bran may be easier to obtain and cheaper in regions where rice is a staple food.

  4. Digestibility for Soil: While this doesn't directly impact the bokashi process, it could be a consideration if you plan to use the finished bokashi compost in your garden. Rice bran is generally more easily digestible than wheat bran so that it might break down quickly and efficiently in the soil.


Molasses


Molasses plays a crucial role in the process of making bokashi bran. It serves as a food source for the microorganisms that are essential for the fermentation process in the bokashi composting system. The carbohydrate-rich nature of molasses provides energy for these microbes, helping them to multiply and thrive.


The use of unsulfured blackstrap molasses is often recommended. Blackstrap molasses is a byproduct of the sugar refining process and contains sugars and various minerals. These additional nutrients can further support microbial growth.


It's important to note that while molasses is commonly used in bokashi bran, other simple carbohydrate sources, like honey or brown sugar, can also be used if molasses isn't available. The key is to provide a food source for the beneficial microbes to thrive.


Effective Microorganisms EM


 Effective Microorganisms (EM) are a vital ingredient in the production of Bokashi bran. These are a mix of beneficial bacteria and yeasts that work together to ferment organic material. The primary types of microorganisms in EM include lactic acid bacteria, photosynthetic bacteria, and yeast.


EM plays a crucial role in Bokashi by breaking down organic waste in an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment. This fermentation process results in a nutrient-rich compost that can be used to improve soil health and fertility1.


The lactic acid bacteria in EM are essential because they produce lactic acid, which creates an acidic environment that inhibits the growth of harmful pathogens.


It's worth noting that while commercial EM products are available, it's also possible to cultivate your EM at home using a process known as "EM activation."


In conclusion, EM is a fundamental component in making Bokashi bran due to its ability to ferment organic waste effectively, resulting in a valuable composting product.



Airtight container


Using an airtight container is crucial when making Bokashi bran at home. This is because the microorganisms involved in the Bokashi process thrive best in an anaerobic (oxygen-free) environment.


Here's why using an airtight container is essential:


  1. Promotes Anaerobic Process: Effective Microorganisms (EM), including lactic acid bacteria, photosynthetic bacteria, and yeast, perform their magic in environments with little to no oxygen. An airtight container helps create such an environment.

  2. Prevents Contamination: A sealed container prevents unwanted pests or airborne contaminants from interfering with the fermentation process

  3. Maintains Moisture Balance: A tight lid helps maintain the proper moisture balance within the Bokashi bin. Too much moisture can make the mixture too wet and lead to foul odors, while too little humidity can slow fermentation.

  4. Prevents Unpleasant Odors: When done correctly, the Bokashi process should produce a sweet, pickled scent. An airtight container ensures that any smells are contained within the bin.

When making Bokashi bran at home, storing the finished product in airtight containers is also recommended. This helps preserve the beneficial microbes' potency until you're ready to use the bran for composting.



Water


Water is a basic but essential ingredient in the creation of Bokashi bran. The right amount of water ensures the ideal moisture content for the fermentation process.


However, the water used in making Bokashi bran is not your typical tap water. Tap water contains chlorine, which can harm the Effective Microorganisms (EM) and potentially hinder fermentation.


Instead, use dechlorinated water or rainwater, which are more friendly to the microbes. Dechlorinated water can be achieved by leaving tap water exposed to air for about 24 hours; this allows the chlorine to evaporate.


Rainwater, if collected safely and cleanly, is naturally free from chlorine.


Distilled water is another option, as it is also accessible from chlorine.


If neither of these options is available, bottled spring water can be used as a last resort, but it is less environmentally friendly and more costly.




Liquid drained from my bokashi compost bucket
Liquid drained from my bokashi compost bucket


Step-by-Step Guide to Making Bokashi Bran


Materials Needed:


  1. 10 lbs of Wheat or Rice Bran

  2. 1 cup of Molasses

  3. 1 cup of EM-1 (Effective Microorganisms)

  4. 4-6 cups of Warm Water (non-chlorinated)

  5. An Airtight Container (large enough to hold your bran)

Steps:


  • Prepare the EM Solution: Mix the molasses and warm water in a large bowl or bucket until the molasses is completely dissolved. Then, stir in the EM-1.

  • Mix with Bran: Gradually add the bran to the solution, stirring continuously to ensure all the bran is evenly soaked. The mixture should feel like a wrung-out sponge when you squeeze it - moist but not dripping.

  • Ferment: Transfer the mixture to your airtight container, pressing down firmly to remove any air pockets. It's essential that the container is genuinely airtight to create an anaerobic environment for the fermentation process.

  • Wait: Seal the container and let it sit in a warm spot out of direct sunlight for about two weeks. This allows time for the beneficial microorganisms to ferment the bran.

  • Dry: After two weeks, spread the fermented bran out to dry. This can be done on a tarp or plastic sheeting in a place protected from rain and direct sunlight.

  • Store: Once completely dried, store your homemade Bokashi bran in an airtight container until ready to use.

Always wash your hands and any equipment used thoroughly after handling Bokashi bran. Enjoy making your own Bokashi bran and contributing to a more sustainable environment!



Common mistakes to avoid when making Bokashi bran

If you're new to making Bokashi bran, there are a few common mistakes to avoid. One big mistake is not using the correct type of wheat bran.


It's essential to use unprocessed, organic wheat bran that hasn't been treated with pesticides or chemicals.


Another mistake is using too much molasses in your mixture. While a small amount can be beneficial, too much can create a sticky, harmful environment for your microorganisms.


It's also essential to avoid adding water directly to your bran mixture, as this can cause clumping and prevent proper fermentation.


Instead, mist your mixture with water until damp but not wet.


Where to purchase pre-made Bokashi bran if desired instead of making it at home