(855) 321-7473

M-F 9am-4pm Eastern

Bokashi Header

Bokashi Fermentation - A New Way to Compost

By Tanner Sagouspe Rise Writer
Feb 17, 2020

Many of us compost at home or through municipal programs, if we're lucky enough to live in a region where this is available. However, if you are not composting yet, you might be daunted because it can seem like a labor-intensive task (don't worry, it's not). Besides, there are items like meat and bones that are difficult to compost at home. 

You might ask, is there a better way to process our food waste? Is there something out there to help us to ensure our food waste isn't flooding the landfills? The answer to that is yes! The Bokashi method can help you process those foods you would usually toss in the trash.

Bokashi Living Steps Diagram
Photo Credit: Bokashi Living

What is Bokashi?

Bokashi is a similar process to composting. It is often called Bokashi composting, but that would be incorrect as it takes advantage of a different process. Through the combination of food waste and inoculated (microbe infused) bran, you can create an anaerobic environment to process your scraps. Your waste then undergoes fermentation through the aid of beneficial microorganisms, yeast, and fungi. By the end of the process, your food looks more pickled than broken down like compost.

The microorganisms used to aid the fermentation process will eventually find their way into your gardens. While there is limited peer-reviewed research on the bokashi method, there is some research into similar indigenous microorganisms already present in our environment. And these microorganisms are great for the soil! 

There is a PDF walkthrough on harvesting them, and some Bokashi users even produce them at home for their systems. But there isn't much scholarly research on their use in the Bokashi system.

What Are Some Benefits of Bokashi?

This form of waste processing works with all food scraps, where traditional composting works best with plant-based products. For example, when composting meat and dairy at home, you run the risk of foul odors or pests, making their way around your home. 

The Bokashi method uses all forms of cooked food, dairy, meat, grains, pasta, and of course, fruits and vegetables and processes them with beneficial bacteria. While the fermentation is underway, you may notice a fruity or vinegar smell. It should never become putrid. If it does, this means something is not working correctly.

This process can be done in the kitchen, making it easier to develop that habit of putting food scraps into the separate bin. The promotion of microbial life from this process, when added to your garden, can benefit the soil and plants around it.

Bokashi bin set
Bokashi Bin Set. Photo Credit: I ValueFood

Bokashi How-To

To begin, you're going to want a container to hold your kitchen scraps. This bin should be airtight since your ultimate goal is to create an air-free environment for the bacteria to do their job. If you're custom making your bin, be sure it is capable of holding roughly five-pounds of materials with a well-fitting top and a spigot at the base.

This faucet at the bottom of your bin drains a leachate byproduct of the fermentation. Drain your container of liquid daily and reuse that byproduct as a dilution in feeding your plants. This liquid isn't going to have the full nutrient profile as your fermenting scraps. But, by using this "tea," you are taking advantage of the few nutrients that you would otherwise lose in the leachate.

Next, add food waste to your container. As mentioned above, there are plenty of organic items you can process utilizing the Bokashi method, including your meat and dairy products.

Bokashi Composting Compresssion
Photo Credit: Green and Growing

As you add your scraps, be sure to press them down as flat as possible. Doing this removes the space between the material, thus reducing air space and promoting an anaerobic environment. To enhance this, consider placing plastic over the top of the scraps or even weighing it down with an object to reduce airflow.

As a side note, consider adding molasses to your bin. This viscous substance is an excellent source of energy for microorganisms and can enhance their growth.

Once your container is established, and the first of your scraps pressed down, you're going to want to begin adding the Bokashi bran. The standard recommendation is going to be one or two tablespoons for every inch of food waste. But, when in doubt, refer to usage instructions on the host medium you purchased. You're going to want to repeat this process of pressing the scraps into the bucket and covering with more bran daily until your bin is full.

When your bin reaches capacity, seal it and let it sit out of direct sunlight for roughly two weeks to ferment. Continue to drain off the leachate every day during this process, as well.

During this stage, bacteria that produce lactic acid and purple non-sulfur bacteria work alongside yeast to process your waste. These are bacteria that are common in fermentation processes similar to active bacteria in yogurt or silage.

White Bokashi Mold
White Bokashi Mold. Photo Credit: Bokashi Living

In stages leading up to this, if you notice a foul smell coming from your bin, something's wrong. Inspect the growth in your container. Dark molds like black, blue, or green show signs of putrification, where a white mold denotes mycelial growth and fermentation.

If there are only a few spots of dark mold, consider adding more bran, as introducing additional beneficial microbes may be what your container needs. If that doesn't work, you should consider throwing out the current waste, cleaning the bin, and starting again. Like with everything, remember to accept feedback from your system, acknowledging what didn't work, and finding ways to adjust.


After the two weeks, the materials are now pre-composted and can either be buried in your garden or added to your compost pile. At this point, allow for an additional two weeks for the materials to breakdown to a point where they no longer run the risk of "burning" your plants.  

What's the Catch?

The Bokashi method ferments your scraps, but it doesn't compost them, which means that when the processing is complete, it looks relatively similar to when it went in. That's okay, though, because it can be taken directly from the bin and buried in your garden. Be aware that at this stage, the fermented material relatively acidic, which could burn tender plant roots.

But since your meat and dairy products underwent this anaerobic process, they can now be included in your compost bin. As such, it's good to have a bokashi system and a compost system both established for optimal efficiency. Allowing your Bokashi materials to compost an additional 2-4 weeks, you ensure a thorough breakdown and that the acidity doesn't detriment the plants.

Also, be wary about including recently fermented materials to vermicompost bins for further breakdown. This same acidity that could damage plants could cause problems and potentially harm the sensitive worms.

The purchase of inoculated bran can become a price concern, but the price point isn't bad, costing an average of $15 for two pounds. It is a product that you need to purchase to keep the system running correctly. As mentioned above, there are guides to make your own microorganism-rich inoculated material if you're curious and interested in doing it for yourself. If you're uncomfortable cultivating microorganisms, your best bet is going to be the purchased bran for the system. At least there are at least a variety of Bokashi brans you can consider.

person holding green leafed plant

In all, the full cycle should take roughly four to six weeks to process your waste using the Bokashi method of fermentation. The process is much faster than traditional composting, and you can put all your meat and bones in, without worrying about critters getting in. Give it a try!

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute a product endorsement however Rise does reserve the right to recommend relevant products based on the articles content to provide a more comprehensive experience for the reader.Last Modified: 2020-05-29T14:19:34+0000
Tanner Sagouspe

Article by:

Tanner Sagouspe

Tanner Sagouspe has a Masters in Environmental Management and is a Permaculture Designer who promotes tackling the climate crisis at home.

Saniflo 023 Sanicompact Macerating Toilet
Saniflo 023 Sanicompact Macerating Toilet
The Saniompact is a self-contained dual-flush toilet system used to install a half-bathroom up to 9 feet below the sewer line or even up to 120 feet away from a soil stack. It incorporates a macerating system that can handle human waste and toilet paper in residential applications. The blade is made out of a hardened stainless steel material, which eliminates any service or replacement. A self-contained macerating toilet for small spaces. For half-bathroom applications ↑ 9 Ft ↑ or ← 120 Ft → Toilet with built-in macerating system Water-saving dual-flush system
HOTBIN 200.2 Hot Composter Bin 52 Gals
HOTBIN 200.2 Hot Composter Bin 52 Gals
The HOTBIN 200.2 is a hot composter designed for households of 3-5 people with mid-size gardens. The HOTBIN 200.2 is designed to provide a short composting cycle with less waste. Expect rich compost in 30-90 days - 32 times faster than cold composters on the market. Setting up and using this hot composter is a breeze, as it requires no assembly, power source, accelerators, or activators. Unlike other composters, the HOTBIN allows you to compost a wider range of waste, including cooked food, bones, and pet waste. Just add wood chips (mulch) and shredded paper in the recommended portions, close the lid, and prepare to harvest nutrient-dense compost in no time. Purchase does NOT include HOTBIN MK2 Plinth. For smaller homes, consider the HOTBIN 100 Mini.
OGO Waterless Composting Toilet
OGO Waterless Composting Toilet
OGO™ Compost Toilet design offers seamless separate liquid and solid waste. Made by hand in the USA, we have given the compost toilet a NEW LOOK. Waterless and energy efficient, OGO™ provides the most features to ensure an easy transition to GOING OFF GRID. OGO™ allows for 25-30 uses before emptying the urine bottle or solids bin. Polypropylene Calcium Fill exterior, and HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene) for the interior. OGO™ Compost Toilet has durable pieces and parts, creating a product built to last. Electric agitator with an easy-to-empty solids bin Modern, sleek compact design with a very small footprint USA Made with direct human contact customer service Urine level indicator light with urine separating trap door mechanism 2.4-gallon urine bottle and 25-30 use solids bin
Saniflo Saniaccess 3 Combo Macerator System
Saniflo Saniaccess 3 Combo Macerator System
The Saniaccess 3 is a 1/2 HP pump system used to install a complete bathroom up to 15 feet below the sewer line or even up to 150 feet away from a soil stack. It incorporates a macerating system that can handle human waste and toilet paper in residential applications. The blade is made out of a hardened stainless steel material, which eliminates any service or replacement. The complete system includes the following parts: Saniflo Saniaccess 3 (082) Saniflush Toilet Round (083) OR Saniflush Toilet Elongated (087) Saniflo Toilet Tank (005) *All items work as a system.
Shop Sustainable Products