We tested out the Bokashi method on our packaging with food scraps, and here are the results!
Bokashi is a Japanese word meaning "fermented organic matter." Bokashi is an anaerobic method which takes advantage of certain strains of bacteria that don’t need oxygen in order to thrive, as opposed to other forms of composting, which are aerobic and require open air to break down materials.
Technically speaking, the bokashi method is a form of fermentation rather than composting — bokashi ferments (or pickles), it is a way to quickly ferment food scraps so that they can be composted faster.
The benefits of bokashi:
- Is much quicker than traditional composting.
- Gives off less odour.
- Requires less maintenance.
- Takes up less space.
- Allows you to compost dairy and meat products.
- Produces a plant-nutritious liquid byproduct.
How to do it?
- Obtain equipment. Before you start your bokashi composting, you’ll need an airtight bucket with a drainage spout and some bokashi bran. The bucket (often called a “bokashi bucket” or “bokashi bin”) will help provide the right anaerobic environment and offer easy drainage, while the bran (fermented organic matter, also called “effective microorganisms” or “inoculants”) contains the beneficial microbes that will flourish in the bokashi environment and help break down the waste.
- Add scraps to the bucket. Add kitchen scraps to your bucket as you have them—fruit, vegetables, coffee grounds, egg shells, meat, or cheese. Other organic materials are fine—like grass clippings, sawdust, dead leaves or our home compostable packaging!
- Add bokashi bran and squish down. Every time you add kitchen waste to the bucket, sprinkle them with a layer of bokashi bran and press them down firmly (using your hand, a plate, or a kitchen masher). Pressing will help push the air out of the matter and create the best anaerobic environment. After adding the bran and squishing down, replace the lid.
- Continue adding food scraps until the bucket is full. When you add food scraps, continue layering with more bokashi bran and press the pile down. If you can, it is better to do this in an outdoor space.
- Drain liquid off. The fermentation process will produce an excess liquid that can hamper the beneficial bacteria. Every other day, use the spigot to drain off excess liquid. This liquid can be diluted as fertiliser for houseplants.
- After two-four weeks, bury in a fallow spot of your garden. After two to four weeks, the matter should be properly fermented—it should feel soft and smell slightly sour. In this state, it is still too acidic for plant roots; it needs a little extra time to go through the true composting process. Bury the fermented food waste in a bare spot of your garden to allow it to decompose, or add it to your composting bins or worm bin.
- Add to your garden soil. Within two weeks of beginning to compost, your fermented bokashi compost should be ready to feed plants. If you buried it in your garden, plant over the top of it. If you added it to your compost pile, mix it in to your garden bed.
We know in Hong Kong not everyone has access to a garden, find a location of a community garden near you.
For more information on composting read our Guide to Composting in Hong Kong.