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I seem to be quite obsessive when it comes to composting. I always remembered the amount of waste is thrown out so I like to do my part (hence the many reviews I have made on different composting methods)
When I moved to my current house I found the garden was not as amenable to my Compost Tumbler, normal compost bin and while my two wormeries were pretty good at churning through the food, there are certain things they can’t take and they do slow down during the colder months so I needed anything method to deal with food scraps. (They also have to deal with garden waste so I can't use them for everything).
The Bokashi uses a lidded bucket system. The bottom of the bucket tapers a little and there is a tap on the outside. A “grate” panel sits at the bottom (not right at the bottom – allows space for liquid to collect.
As well as the bucket you need Bokoshi Active Bran that contains Ems, these are Effective Microrganisms. These are added to the food and are designed to break down the scraps almost like “pickling it”. It does not work like a normal composter and when you open it there is no dark loamy compost.
This system allows the food scraps to be composted without any rotting smell and both veggies and meats/fish can be composted (unlike in most compost systems).
The recommendation, especially if you do a lot of cooking and so generate a lot of veggie peel etc, is to get two buckets. This is so when one is full, you can move on to the second one while the first is in its 2 week composting period.
The measurements are approximately 300mm x 245mm x 370mm and hold around 18 litres
The usage of this system is pretty easy. You set the grate in the bottom, turn the tap to closed and then start using it.
Take any food scraps and drop them in the bucket. The concept of the bucket is in layering. The best way is to cover the grate fully and then take a handful of Active Bran and sprinkle it over the food. Add the lid.
When you have move, open it up and drop in another layer of food, another sprinkling – you want to cover the food (not 100%) with the bran. One good handful should be enough. If you have a lot of scraps, break it into layers (you don’t want a large food layer).
As you start filling it, when it gets about half full, start using a piece of cardboard and once you have finished sprinkling bran on your layer press the cardboard down on top to drive out the air (don’t leave the cardboard in).
Once the bucket is full, put the lid on and leave it for two weeks. Every few days open the tap (make sure you put a cup underneath) and drain off any liquid that is collected.
When the two weeks are up the resultant Bokashi can be dug into the garden and break down quickly, nourishing the earth and replenishing nutrients. It can also be added to a normal compost bin (or wormery) even though it originally had meat and/or fish in it. The pickling process then allows for these items to be added to a normal composter.
The added extra is the liquid cast off that can be diluted and used as a plant food or poured neat down a drain as a cleaner.
I got my system (with two buckets and Active Bran) from one of my favourite online shops called Wiggly Wigglers.
The system of 2 buckets and 1 kg of active bran is £62.00
The price for just one bucket is £37.50
The active Bran can be purchased in different sizes depending on your needs
1kg – £5.40
3kg - £15.40
5kg - £23.50
20kg - £80.00
I love this system. My partner makes a lot of soup batches, stews etc and does these in bulk so we often end up with large amounts of veg peel in a weekend. My wormeries can’t take that kind of excess so I split it between them and the bokashi.
They do what they say, keeping any smells locked away and even after the two weeks there is no “rotting” smell, instead a nice pickled smell.
I have put finished bokashi into my wormeries and they have really churned through it, so it definitely works.
I have found the liquid cast off is sometimes a lot, sometimes only a little. I personally prefer to use worm cast for liquid plant food so have used the bokashi cast off as a drain cleaner and have had no problems
If you want to do your bit for the environment and compost and don’t have the space, or maybe want to be able to compost everything including meat and fish then this is definitely for you. Once you get the buckets the cost is just for buying more active bran which is pretty cheap and seems to last for ages
In my house, no matter how good we try to be about only buying the food we need, there is always some lurking about that gets forgotten about, and ends up in the bin, either as leftovers or as food we purchased but simply forgot about.
In the UK, an estimated 8.3 million tonnes of food is wasted each year, making it's way into landfill sites. Obviously that isn't good for the environment - but neither is it good for our finances -wasting food costs the average family with children £680 a year, or £50 a month. **
I actually ended up with my Bokashi Kitchen Composter after somebody offered it on freecycle. Luckily, it came to us clean and virtually unused, and complete with an instruction leaflet. It came as a twin pack of two bins - which makes sense, as you can fill one whilst the other takes a little extra time to ferment, and if I had chosen to purchase it new myself, the current retail price for the 18l twin pack would have been around £36.
I was not given any bran with my bin , so I needed to purchase this before I could get started, at a cost of £5.97 for a 600g bag.
These containers feature a drainage tray that allows liquid to drain through, and this liquid need to be drained off regularly, as too much moisture will cause the compost not to ferment in the correct way. Before use, you need to line the tray with a thin layer of Bokashi bran, which is a special bran containing 'Effective Micro-organisms' that help to ferment the food.
Once your bin is lined, you can then start filling it up with all your kitchen waste.Cut up your vegetable and other food scraps into small pieces if required, and pop them into the bucket, covering over with a thin layer of bokashi bran.Press everything down lightly to expel any air, then close the lid of the bucket.. You simply repeat this until the bin is full, remembering to add bran and compress the contents each time.
You need to regularly pour off the liquid that has accumulated in the base of the bucket, which is easy to do thanks to the little tap device on the front. Dilute this
liquid at 1:100 parts water for a lovely nutrient rich plant food, or pour it undiluted down the drain to clear pipes.
I found it took us about 3 weeks to fill our bin (this is probably due to the fact that we don't throw away vegetable peelings, as our guinea pigs eat them) and was surprised during this time by the fact that the bin really didn't smell bad. Considering that you can bin most foods, and we had certainly put fish in there, I was expecting some bad smells, but actually there was only a slightly marmitey tinge. Once full, you leave it for a couple of weeks somewhere out of the sun, and by then the process should be complete.
I was amazed that the food could break down so fast - we've had a compost heap in our garden that seems to make no progress, but this stuff was actually perfectly usable after such a short time!
There was a tiny bit of white mould on the surface, but that is perfectly normal, (however any batches with green mould should be discarded) and I happily took this outside and spread it around my herbs. It did tip out of the bin in one compacted lump, but a bit of poking with a trowel soon had it usable. Bokashi compost is acidic though, so if you're digging it into a garden trench, you need to let it neutralise for about a month before planting in it.
I'm really pleased with these, especially as I got mine for nothing . I'm amazed at what can be composted - any kind of food, including eggshells, meat and fish. The only real exceptions are liquids, mouldy food, and tea-bags, all excluded because they will mess with the fermentation process. I throw less food away now, and my herb garden is flourishing. I've also just sown a lettuce patch, digging in my latest bunch of compost, and I can't wait to see how they turn out!
It really doesn't take much extra effort to do this, and the bins fit easily out of sight into my under-sink cupboard. 5 stars.
** Data taken from http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/about_food_waste
As a family we try our best to do our bit for the environment by recycling and making use of the two regular compost bins we have in the garden for things like Tea bags, fruit/vegetable peelings, egg shells and garden clippings, in a bid to reduce the amount of waste that goes into landfill.
I was staggered to learn that it is estimated 6.7 million tonnes of household food waste is produced in the UK each year, which accounts for around 30% of the waste that ends its days in landfill sites. I would assume that a lot of this could well have been eaten, I have been guilty in the past of over estimating the amount of food I have prepared and cooked only to be left with a pile of leftovers In the same way I have been tempted by special offers such as BOGOFS, but have found my self wondering what on earth I am going to do with the extra food sat in the fridge and before I know it is well past it's use by date. The same can be said for the scrapings left on plates too, it all ended up in the household bin along with the non recyclable plastic and perennial weeds from the garden. I have over the years become quite good at finding new and exciting ways to re create leftovers to avoid any unnecessary waste, although there are times when it is just not possible.
Imagine my delight when I discovered a way to compost such food wastage by using a Bokashi Kitchen Composter. My first reaction was one of disbelief as I couldn't for one minute see how you could compost virtually 100% of your kitchen waste without being infested with flies or even worse vermin. The more I read about them, the more intrigued I became and set about doing more research in to them. One of the initial things I did notice was the price. They weren't exactly cheap, If my memory serves me right the first ones I came across, cost in the region of £50.00 each and bearing in mind you are advised to have two (more about that later), I knew from the start I would be fighting a losing battle trying to convince my husband (and myself for that matter) that it would be a sound investment. Further research threw up cheaper ones and I was all set to order a set of two from Tesco direct for £42.00 plus delivery when I remembered a website I had read about which dealt in recycling products. By visiting www.recyclenow.com and entering your postcode, you are directed to your own councils recycling web pages. Most councils are doing their best to encourage us to recycle and compost and are therefore offering all manner of composting equipment at subsidised prices, in a bid to help us reduce the amount we send to landfill on a weekly basis. I was more than pleased to discover that my local council (Sheffield) were offering the Bokashi bins for £38.00 with free delivery. That's for two 18 litre capacity bins complete with drainage trays, a scoop, 2 months supply of Bokashi Bran and a special flat like paddle which you use to press the food down once it's in the bin. Seeing I had already saved myself (well the husband to be correct) £9.00 by not buying from Tesco Direct I placed my order online and my package arrived 4 days later. I would point out though that they were not actually dispatched from my local council but from a company called DHL Excel and I am assuming the same company handle all the distribution for such items, as a lot of the subsidised rates are only applicable to orders placed and paid for online. Additional supplies of bran are also available from here too. I am able to order 3 months supply for £10.00 again with free delivery and have already done so without any problems.
I was however a little surprised that there were no instructions included in the box, not that any were required to fit the loose bits to the bin
(drainage trays and taps) as that was obvious and very straight forward, but some information on what and what not could be put in the bin plus how to look after it would have been useful.
Further internet research gave me the answers I needed and I was able to set up my bin ready for its first meal of plate scrapings, vegetable peelings and a few leftovers that were of no use to man or beast.
~ WHAT IS A BOKASHI BIN ~
The bins are specially designed containers made from re cycled plastic and are mostly sold in pairs, as this allows you to use the rotation method by having one fermenting whilst filling the other. The bins have a removable plastic perforated tray which sits in the bottom over a sump which works in a similar way to a wormery by allowing any liquid to drip through. (This needs draining off at regular intervals which I will explain about later) You will find bins in both 18 and 21 litre sizes, so as you can see they can cope with even the largest of families' food waste.
You need to place a thin layer of bran in the bottom on top of the drainage tray before you start adding any food waste. It is good idea to place a piece of paper kitchen towel on top of the tray first to prevent the bran falling through the holes.
Bokashi is the Japanese word meaning "Fermentation," this system of composting was developed by a Professor Teruo Higa and is being promoted around the world as a practical way to recycle all of our household food waste. It is the Bokashi bran that is the magic ingredient which starts the process off turning food waste into nutritious compost. It is kind of hard to believe at first but I can assure you it does work. This special wheat bran has been enriched with effective micro- organisms (EM) and molasses which ferments the food whilst neutralizing odours. It smells a bit like the bran I used to feed my rabbit, only sweeter. The bran performs the first stages of decomposition by what can only be described as a kind of "pickling" process.
Once you have your first layer of bran in place it's simply a case of what I call "feeding" the bin. It is important though to make sure any food placed in the bin is cut up into small pieces first and after each layer of food you need to add a scoop of bran, making sure it covers the surface of what ever you have just put in. It is important to press the contents down, the specially designed, flat paddle provided with the bins makes this very easy to do (looks a bit like a plasterers trowel) to expel any air trapped. This system works by the anaerobic method which means unlike your regular compost bin, oxygen is not required for the process to succeed. It is therefore necessary that you make sure the lid is put back on tight after each feeding session too. I keep this bin under the sink so it is on hand, whilst the one that is fermenting lives in the utility room out of sight but certainly not out of mind.
Once your bin is full, (mine takes between 7 to 10 days) put it to one side (out of direct sunlight) and leave it for a couple of weeks and start the process again with the other bin. You will need to keep draining off any liquid though at regular intervals. (I drain mine every other day) The amount produced varies depending on what sort of food you have fed the bin. My first draining exercise only produced around a tablespoon of juice, but subsequent drains have produced as much as 4 fluid ounces each time. The liquid or Bokashi juice is alive with beneficial microbes which must be diluted with water that's 1 part juice to 100 parts water to feed plants. It can be poured (undiluted) down the sink, drain or toilet to help prevent algae and control odours. I have disposed of my juice using all the methods mentioned and whilst I haven't noticed any dramatic change with the drains or the loo, my house plants seem to have acquired a taste for it and are certainly looking a lot healthier and happier these days. The juice I have collected has been brown in colour (similar to that of cold tea). It didn't really smell of anything either, but my husband did remark that he detected a bit of a cheesy whiff when he stuck his nose in the jar, (Wonder if that was the small piece of camembert that had been added to the bin.) Personally I thought it was more of a yeasty smell if anything, but either way it wasn't unpleasant.
Incidentally, the liquid or juice has been shown to have no harmful effect on the rivers in Japan and I assume it's safe to say it is of no threat to our waters either.
When I opened my first bin after it had been left to ferment for 2 weeks, I was amazed to see the contents looked exactly the same as they did when I left it to work its magic. It's difficult to explain what I expected to see but one would assume something to have happened during that time. Apart from a thin layer of a white mould on the top, which I have discovered is perfectly normal. A layer of green mould however signifies something has gone wrong, probably not enough bran or too much liquid and it's best to dispose of the contents along with your regular waste in the household bin, and start again.
The fact that the contents of the bin didn't smell nasty either came as a surprise, there was a slight hint of a pickled like aroma, but nothing in any way offensive. You'd think a few weeks worth or rotting meat a chicken carcass plus a multitude of other things would at least hum a bit wouldn't you!!
You have several options now to choose from on how you dispose of your bin contents.
Put in your compost bin in the garden
Dig it straight into the garden
Add it to your wormery (if you have one) but not too much all at once.
I opted for the first one, the fermented food departed the Bokashi bin in an almost jelly like mass, which I forked about a bit to break it up so it wasn't just sitting in a big clump. A couple of days later I couldn't resist having a peek and was surprised to see the level of the existing compost had dropped somewhat, this being due to the fact the Bokashi contents act as an accelerator and speed up the whole composting process. Not only am I composting my everyday kitchen waste but my regular compost bin is working twice as fast too as a result.
It is apparently perfectly safe to dig the Bokashi compost straight into the ground as the pickling process has rendered the contents unattractive to vermin and flies but having recently experienced a slight problem with rats entering our garden from the neighbours I am not yet prepared to take the risk. The compost is acidic when first added to the ground but will neutralize after around 10 days, just make sure you don't let it touch the roots of plants as it could burn them at this stage so you are advised to wait a few weeks before planting anything new in that spot.
Once you have emptied your bin it is important to wash and dry it thoroughly before you start the whole process again.
~WHAT CAN YOU PUT IN THE BIN ~
This is where you may well be surprised at just what you can compost using the Bokashi system. You can add both cooked and uncooked food items of any of the following.
Meat, fish, bread, pizza, pasta, beans, lentils, vegetables, fruit, cereals, biscuits, crisps, nuts (plus their shells), cheese, butter, meat and fish bones, potatoes, coffee grounds, eggs, spent flowers, the list is endless.
All you need to make sure is everything is cut up small before adding them to the bin. It is very easy to break up a chicken carcass into small pieces especially if you have used it to make a lovely stock for soup, but I'm afraid bones from lamb shanks and oxtail went straight in the household rubbish as they are far too big and I didn't want to ruin my kitchen knives trying to hack them into manageable sized pieces.
As you can see using this system would virtually remove the need to landfill any of your kitchen food waste
~WHAT YOU CAN NOT INCLUDE IN THE BIN ~
The following are rather obvious, but are worth mentioning to avoid any confusion and are listed on various websites as being unsuitable material.
Pet waste, metals, wood, glass, plastic, liquids, tobacco / ash and Tea Bags The inclusion of the latter may well surprise you ( it did me) and the reason for this is Tea bags are considered to be too wet and would upset the fermenting/pickling process. You can add up to 5 of them a day providing they have been squeezed out , but even then you are advised not to be temped to do so, instead add them as you would normally do to your regular compost bin outside if you have one. It is also worth pointing out that you should NOT add any mouldy food to the bin, so if you have a piece of cheese, lurking at the back of the fridge that has acquired a fur coat (believe me I have had a few of those in my time), then you will have to dispose of this with your normal household waste instead.
This whole system is in my opinion, ingenious and very easy to follow as it requires very little attention. As long as you remember to cut up food small, add a layer of bran, press down to expel any trapped air, drain off the juice at regular intervals and keep the lid on tight then you can't fail to make nutritious compost for your garden.
I have been "pickling" my food waste for almost 2 months now and have found it all very straight forward and easy to do.
As mentioned before prices of the bins and bran vary somewhat so it's worth shopping around. Apart from the usual Eco friendly sites you will also find them on places like Amazon and EBay, but it's worth checking out your local council first. Some have even been offering them free of charge for an introductory period, so you never know you may be lucky enough to get one this way, failing that you are more than likely to be able to purchase one at a subsidised rate.
Go that extra mile and help reduce the amount that goes into landfill by composting all your food waste the Bokashi way.
** I'm "Pickled" pink with my bins and I'm sure you will be too.**
***Previously posted by me on ciao with pictures***
Compost food and vegetable scraps in the kitchen, without the fear of smells by using EM's - Effective Microrganisms! Every time you have scraps to throw, be it meat fish or vegetable, just open the lid and drop them in the Bokashi Bucket along with a 'sprinkling' of the Bokashi Bran and re-seal the lid. When the bucket is full, leave for two weeks with the lid sealed and then either dig the resultant Bokashi into the garden or add to your compost heap. As the Bokashi is 'composting' in the Bokashi bucket, a nutient rich liquor is produced which is collected by using the tap on the bucket every couple of days. Dilute the liquor with water at 1:100 and use as plant feed throughout the home and garden. We recommend the purchase of two Bokashi buckets, so that when one is full and 'composting', you have a spare to start filling