What's Bokashi Bin & Bran? | The History of Bokashi Bin Composting

Updated: Jul 8

Bokashi bran is the flaky substance that you add to kitchen scraps in a bokashi bin. Bokashi bran is a specific selection of bacteria and yeasts that begin fermenting your kitchen waste. There are no smells because of the air tight container, no insects and you get a valuable liquid fertiliser in a few days. See all 17 benefits in my article here.

Dr Terugo Higa discovered the selection of bacteria and yeasts that make up bokashi bran.

He did this because he suffered from chemical poisoning that came from the pesticides that were used in Japan. He wanted to find a farming solution that would create better compost without the use of chemicals.

Before he came along, the original form of bokashi consisted of adding any assortment of microbe available to the farmer that starts the fermentation process.

His bokashi bran revolutionised bokashi composting as it could be dried, packaged, and distributed.

He was the first to be able to make bokashi bran widely available. It’s sometimes said that he created bokashi, that isn’t true bokashi already existed. He paired the ancient bokashi process with his selection of microbes.

What's in Bokashi Bran?

Bokashi bran is also called EM1 which means Effective Microorganisms. It consists mainly of lactic acid bacteria and yeasts.

A bottle of EM1 contains a similar list of bacteria that you’ll find on a probiotics bottle, for example:

Lactobacillus acidophilus

Lactobacillus casei

Lactobacillus fermentum

Lactobacillus plantarum

Rhodopseudomonas palustris

Rhodopseudomonas sphaeroides

Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Streptococcus thermophilus

The bacteria and yeasts are introduced to carbon sources like rice hulls, wheat bran, or soy hulls. These are industrial waste products used mainly for cheapness.

The result is a flaky consistency that smells like a really strong packet of salt and vinegar crisps.

You can get the Bokashi bran in liquid form or the dried flaky bokashi bran.

Why does Bokashi Bran work so well?

Bokashi bran works well because the microbes benefit each other. They form a dominant relationship that out-competes pathogens.

Bokashi bin in an apartment kitchen

The microbes prevent other pathogens from taking over, by making more lactic acid that lowers the ph to 4. A state, which most pathogens can’t survive.

Or in other instances, the bokashi bran microbes can produce more antioxidants to attack pathogens.

The microbes in bokashi bran benefit each other by creating an environment that:

  • provides shelter,

  • produces waste products eaten by others,

  • and produces enzymes used by others.

How was bokashi bran created?

As with most great inventions, bokashi was discovered by accident.

Dr Terugo Higa, discovered that these group of organisms worked together to benefit the grass that he left in his lab.

Before this discovery, people thought these organisms would compete with each other instead of working together.

Click the link to see the bokashi bin I bought on Amazon

Have a look at my article 17 of Benefits of Bokashi Bin Composting in Your Apartment.

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An Earth Saving Revolution by Dr Terugo Higa

Bokashi Composting from scraps to soil in weeks by Adam Footer.