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  • Naomi Stephens | Permaculture Designer

Bokashi Bran: How to Make and Use It for a Healthy Garden

Updated: May 17, 2022

Looking for a way to improve your garden's health and vitality? Bokashi Bran may be just what you need. This organic fertilizer is made from fermented wheat bran, rice husks or soy hulls and it has a host of benefits for plants.

Bokashi Bran helps to suppress plant diseases, increase nutrient uptake, and promote healthy growth. In this article, we will discuss what Bokashi Bran is, how to make your own bran at home, and some bokashi bran recipes for making it yourself.

I've been successful at turning bokashi bran into nutrient-rich bokashi compost in my apartment. See my articles below:

The Complete guide to composting using bokashi composting
17 benefits of Bokashi Composting

What is Bokashi Bran?

Bokashi bran is made up of a mix of EM microorganisms, molasses, and bran. The main ingredient in EM is lactic acid bacteria, which is what gives bokashi its distinctive smell.

it consists of:

Lactic acid bacteria such as: Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus fermentum, Lactobacillus plantarum.

Yeasts such as: Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Streptococcus thermophilus

Photosynthetic bacteria such as: Rhodopseudomonas palustris, Rhodopseudomonas sphaeroides

These are a friendly non-harmful selection of micro-organisms, in fact, you're likely to find these essential microbes on a probiotics pill.

How did Bokashi Bran begin?

Dr Terugo Higa

Dr. Terugo Higa discovered the selection of bacteria and yeasts that make up bokashi bran in the 1980s. He was a professor at the University of Ryukyus in Japan.

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 bran consisted of adding an assortment of microbe available to the farmer that starts the fermentation process.

His bokashi bran revolutionized 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 the difference between Bokashi bran and EM, EM-1, Effective Micro-organisms?

Bokashi bran is a combination of EM (Effective Microorganisms), micro-organisms, molasses, and bran.

EM is a marketing term for a group of microorganisms that were discovered in the 1970s by Dr. Teruo Higa while he was working as a professor at the University of Ryukyus in Okinawa, Japan.

The main difference between Bokashi Bran and EM is that Bokashi Bran comes together with bran so you'll commonly see it as a brown flake material. EM (Effective Microorganisms) comes in liquid form.

Which is better Bokashi Bran or EM?

Bokashi bran is a type of fermentation that is effective at breaking down organic matter. It's also relatively easy to use, and it doesn't produce offensive odors. However, Bokashi bran can be expensive, and it requires special equipment.

EM (Effective Microorganisms) is another type of fermentation that is also effective at breaking down organic matter. It's less expensive than Bokashi bran, and it doesn't require special equipment. However, EM can produce offensive odors, and it's not as easy to use.

So, which is better? Bokashi bran or EM? Ultimately, the answer depends on your specific needs and preferences. If you're looking for an easy-to-use method that doesn't produce odors, then Bokashi bran might be the best option for you.

How does Bokashi Bran work?

The microbes in Bokashi Bran help to make fermented organic matter, making it easier for plants to absorb nutrients. Bokashi Bran also helps to suppress plant diseases and promote healthy growth.

How can bokashi bran be used as a compost accelerator?

Bokashi bran can be used as a compost accelerator by adding it to your compost pile or bin. The microbes in the Bokashi bran will help to break down the organic matter, making it easier for plants to absorb nutrients.

When is the best time to add bokashi bran to the compost bin or pile?

The best time to add Bokashi bran to the compost bin or pile is when you first start layering your organic matter. You can add a layer of Bokashi bran between each layer of organic matter, or you can add it all at once.

How much Bokashi bran should be added to a compost bin or pile?

The amount of Bokashi bran that should be added will vary depending on the size of your compost bin or pile. A good rule of thumb is to add a handful of Bokashi bran for each layer of organic matter.

What are some other ways to use Bokashi Bran?

Bokashi bran can also be used as a top dressing for houseplants or outdoor plants. It can also be used to make fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut. Or it can be used to make bokashi tea.

How to make bokashi tea

Bokashi tea is made by mixing one part Bokashi bran with eight parts water.

Let the mixture sit for 24 hours, then strain it and use it as a fertilizer for houseplants or outdoor plants.

Why is Bokashi Bran effective at fermenting food waste?

The beneficial microbes in the bran help each other, which is why bokashi bran works so well. They form a dominant relationship that outperforms pathogen competition.

The bacteria keep other infections at bay by producing more lactic acid, which lowers the ph to 4. A condition in which most pathogens are unable to survive.

When necessary, the bokashi bran microbes may produce even more antioxidants to combat infections.

The microorganisms in bokashi bran aid one another by creating the ideal environment, providing shelter for other organisms, generating waste that is eaten by other organisms, and manufacturing enzymes that will be utilized by others.

What's the best EM-1to buy?

You should buy an organic EM-1 bottle that is filled with beneficial lactic acid bacteria. The bottle should typically contain minimal ingredients such as water, molasses and beneficial microbes.

I recommend using this EM -1 from Terraganix because Teraganix is the exclusive distributor of Dr Higa's Effective Micro-organisms Technology products in the USA and

EM-1 Inoculant from Terraganix

Canada. Their mixture contains the same blend of Effective Microorganisms that was originally used in agriculture.

Their EM-1 bottle is a superior mixture of naturally occurring microbes that are non-GMO and organically certified. They are undoubtedly the most reputable brand of EM-1. You don't want to risk going for another brand that might not get the job done correctly leading to a waste of bran and equipment.

They are also affordable too. I recommend that you buy the EM-1 product directly from Amazon.

It's $29.70 with free shipping to the USA Click Here or below to take you to it on Amazon.

How do I make Bokashi Bran at home?

To make Bokashi bran, you will need:

  • EM-1 (Effective Microorganisms)

  • Molasses

  • Water

  • Bran - This could be wheat, soy or even a porous material like shredded paper.

  • 1 airtight container i.e a bucket with a lid


1. Combine the EM, molasses, and water.

2. Add the liquid mixture to the bran in the bucket.

3. Mix well, the combination should be moist but not soaking. For example, you shouldn't be able to get drops of water when you squeeze it.

4. If you plan on using the bokashi for a long time, then you'll need to dry it out completely. In order to do this, you'll need to spread the mixture out on a tarp in a warm spot until it dries out completely. You shouldn't try to put it in the oven or anything as it will kill the living microbes.

5. If you want to use the bran sooner, within 2 weeks. Then let your bokashi bran mixture sit in a warm spot for 2 weeks.

Your bokashi bran is complete when the mixture has a vinegar, sauerkraut-type smell. It should have white mold if it has any other color mold then it hasn't worked.


We’ll be releasing more free resources in the near future that dive into all things Bokashi – Thanks for reading!

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