Bokashi bran is the crucial element in the fermentation process of bokashi composting. Without it, all we’d have is a smelly bucket of mouldy food scraps! In this article, you’ll learn the importance of this miracle bran and weigh up whether you’d prefer to buy bran or make bokashi bran at home.
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My Top Pick when Buying Bokashi Bran
Bokashi Living Bokashi Bran
This is my favourite brand of bran. Made with the highest quality bacterial cultures and double fermented, it’s teeming with wonderful microbes!
Each 2.2 lb/1 kg bag of bran will ferment 5 bokashi bins. For an average family, this is generally 3 – 4 months worth of food waste.
Bran contains billions and billions of effective microorganisms that, when added to food waste, get to work converting the waste into pre-compost that then becomes nutrient-rich fertiliser for your garden. From reading my article on Bokashi vs Compost you’ll be a bokashi expert by now, but if you haven’t yet, here’s a quick summary of what is bokashi composting.
What is Bokashi Composting & How does Bran Work?
Bokashi composting is an anaerobic process (without oxygen) that uses inoculated bran to break down kitchen scraps and organic food waste in a bokashi bin composting system. The bran ferments all kitchen waste (this includes dairy and meat) to produce a nutrient-rich tea and safe soil builder.
There are a few things thats can’t be added to a bokashi bin so take a look at this article on what can and can’t be added to bokashi if you’re unsure.
The English translation of the Japanese term bokashi is “fermented organic matter.” Bokashi refers to the specific method of composting used as well as the inoculant mixture or compost accelerator (bran) used for powering the process of fermentation. This inoculant mixture is made of photosynthetic bacteria, lactic acid bacteria and yeast.
The inoculant mixture is made from bran soaked in water together with beneficial microbes and molasses. The mixture is then dried before it’s packed for longevity.
Stored correctly, bokashi bran is able to be used for one to two years. Store in an airtight container at room temperature, away from direct sunlight.
How to Make Bokashi
Most kitchen scraps including dairy and meat products (that are banned from traditional aerobic composting systems) are mixed with the inoculated bran in a bokashi bin composting system. Press everything firmly inside the bokashi bucket after the addition of food waste each day. Sprinkle a tablespoon of bran over the top.
Fill the bucket with scraps then seal and leave to ferment for 10 to 12 days. Remember to collect the bokashi liquid every day as you fill the bin and while it’s left to finish fermenting. This bokashi liquid is liquid gold for the garden. Once diluted, use as a nutrient-rich fertiliser for plants.
After the 2 week finishing off period, the contents of the bucket will still be recognisable but thoroughly pickled. This is the pre-compost state. Dig it into the ground where it will turn to compost within 2 weeks. After this time the ground is ready for planting.
The video at the bottom of this post is a brilliant example of how bokashi is made and how to make bran at home.
DIY Bokashi Bran – How to Make Bokashi Bran
Making bokashi bran is a reasonably straightforward process with the right materials. This recipe will produce a few months worth.
Recipe for DIY Bokashi Bran
Starter kit – What you’ll need
- Large bucket with an airtight lid
- 250ml Warm Water
- 1T/15ml Molasses
- 1T/15ml Effective Microbes (EM-1)
- 500g Wheat Bran*
To make your DIY bokashi bran, in a large bowl, mix the warm water with the molasses. Next, add the EM-1 and stir well.
Add the wheat bran to your large bucket and mix in the wet ingredients. As the wheat bran absorbs the water it will expand and should feel moist without being soggy. Use your hands to squeeze and mix everything together thoroughly. It should clump together and form a cake-like texture. The bran sticks to itself but is not crumbly nor full of liquid when squeezed.
Once you’ve finished mixing everything together, ensure the lid of the bucket is well sealed and airtight. Leave it in a dark, warm place for approximately 2 to 3 weeks.
It is very important to avoid opening up the container for at least 2 weeks. It can be very tempting to have a quick peep, but avoid the temptation or else the whole process will not work!
After 3 weeks, the bran should have a fermented smell. Don’t worry if you see some white mould forming on the surface. This indicates that the mixture will be ready for use and it will get better once you dry it out well. Spread the mixture on a tray away from any direct sunlight until it has dried off fully. Store bran in ziplock bags or airtight containers in a dry, cool place.
Your DIY bran is now ready to use and should remain active for at least one year!
*To make bran, the most common material to use is wheat bran. There are also other organic materials to choose from including rice pollard, sawdust, coffee husks, leaf waste etc, but these may not work as well as wheat bran. Although wheat bran is the most expensive part of the mixture, for simplicity sake and for your best chance of success when just starting out, it’s worth the expense. Generally, it’s cheaper to buy in bulk.
4 Uses for Bokashi Bran You May Not Know
Bran not only powers your bokashi compost system but can also be used around the house in other ways.
1. Bokashi Bran Tea
Bokashi tea is an excellent way of providing additional nutrients to your garden. Add to a watering can or create an effective foliar spray. All you have to do is add 2 ounces of bran to a gallon of filtered water. Seal and allow it to stand for 24 to 48 hours. You can use bokashi tea on flowers, vegetable gardens and all other plants.
You can also mix bran together with your potting soil to create a richer base for your container plants. For this purpose, all you need to do is mix 20 parts potting soil with one part bran. Mix the bran directly into the garden each time you plant.
3. Pet Odour Control
You can also take advantage of bran and use it to help reduce and control pet-related odours. Just sprinkle a small quantity of the bran on outdoor pet runs, bedding, or add directly to cat litter.
4. Septic and Pipe Sanitising
This inoculated bran has active microorganisms and ingredients that make it act as a safe and healthy alternative to common plumbing and septic chemicals. Add 1/8 cup bran to a gallon of filtered water. Seal this inside a container for up to 12 hours. You can pour or flush it down toilets and sinks to help clear any blokages.
Buying Bokashi Bran vs Make Your Own Bokashi Bran?
Making your own bran can be very satisfying and to be honest, slightly addictive, but you need to weigh up the cost and time factor when deciding whether to DIY bokashi bran or buy bran premade.
In reality, to make bran vs purchase bran is not a huge cost saver unless you purchase in bulk. So for the time involved, this may sway you toward buying rather than DIY bokashi bran.
In saying this, it is not a hard process to make bran and it is a fun project to do with the family, even if it’s just once so you can learn how the microbe inoculated bran comes from and how it works.
Where to Buy Bokashi Bran
If you choose to buy bokashi bran the good news is it isn’t expensive. My advice though is to always go for the highest quality product as it will make a difference to the whole bokashi composting process.
There are plenty of options on Amazon when searching for bokashi bran for sale, alternatively, I personally recommend the premium bokashi bran from Bokashi Living. An excellent high quality bran made in America.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where to Buy Bokashi Bran?
Bokashi Living is my pick when looking for bokashi bran for sale. Operating out of the USA, Bokashi Living make their bran with the highest quality bacterial cultures which they double ferment. This creates bran teeming with live microbes, ready to ferment and compost your food scraps.
How Much Bokashi Bran to Use?
Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of bran over the top of your scraps after each addition to your bokashi composting system. Ensure the lid is well sealed each time.
How Long Does Bokashi Bran Last?
Proper storage of bran (room temperature in an airtight container and out of direct sunlight) will enable it to be active for up to 2 years. The effectiveness of the microbes in the bran will decline over time so it’s best to use the bran within this window.
How to Store Bokashi Bran?
Keep bran at room temperature out of direct sunlight. Store in an airtight container.
What is Bokashi Bran?
Bokashi bran is a mixture of billions of effective microorganisms that, when added to food waste, convert the waste into pre-compost that then becomes nutrient-rich fertiliser for your garden.
What is the Bokashi Method of Composting?
Bokashi originated in Japan and translates to ‘fermented organic matter’. Where composting allows organic matter to break down and decay, bokashi essentially ‘pickles’ your kitchen scraps to bring it to a pre-compost state.
Bury in the ground and it breaks down into compost, creating the most beautiful, rich soil in as little as 4 weeks!
The Bottom Line on Bokashi Bran
Bokashi bran is a wonderfully versatile product that has a whole lot more uses than just bokashi composting. Add to compost bins and compost tumblers to speed up the composting process, use to make bokashi tea, mix it with garden soil to give it a boost, control pet odour, or sanitise pipes and septic lines.
Whether you choose to make your own bran or buy bran premade, a high-quality bran teeming with microbe activity is key in achieving the best results.
About the Author
Elle Reed is a passionate gardener and advocate for teaching beginner gardeners how to grow their own food. Elle’s mission is to inspire and empower people to get back to basics, grow their own produce, and embrace a sustainable lifestyle. “Whether it’s a few herb pots in an apartment, a potager or a full garden plot, we can all ‘start somewhere’ to grow our own food, and in doing so, provide healthier food for ourselves and those we love”.
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