Stage 1 - Fermentation

Starting a new bucket

 You will need:

Airtight bucket (I collect buckets from Booster Juice),

Absorbent - Peat Moss or Sawdust

Bokashi Bran

Something to squish air out of food waste (I recycle produce bags)


  1. Cut up food scraps into one inch pieces - bigger pieces and bones may take a little longer to break down. This is the same as if you were to compost with a traditional compost heap except that you can compost fruit, vegetables, meat, chicken, or fish, bones and dairy. 

  2. Sprinkle half a cup of bokashi mix on an absorbent material (peat moss or sawdust work well) in the bottom of the bucket that has a tight fitting lid.

  3. Add food waste and every 2 inches of food waste, sprinkle bokashi mix to cover all food waste (about a small handful).

  4. Compress the food scraps with a plastic bag, plate or potato masher to get any air out, then, cover the bucket with the lid for an airtight bucket. (I use a plastic produce bag and leave it on the food after compressing)

  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 until your bucket is full

  6. When bucket is full, leave it out of sunlight to ferment for 2 weeks (can leave it indefinitely). This allows the bokashi to pickle and ferment food scraps in the bucket. It is ideal to have a second Bokashi Bucket to use, then switch and start again. In the winter I have many buckets, that when full I set outside until spring to bury all at once when the ground thaws.

Tips for Stage 1

When you are adding meat, fish, dairy, oils to your Bokashi bucket, use 2x as much Bokashi. These foods break down more slowly, and you will need more Bokashi to hasten the process.

If there is a lot of liquid produced in the bucket, add something to soak it up: bread, paper (nothing with colored inks), or more Bokashi. You can also siphon it out if you wish.  Does it smell like pickles? The "pickle" or acid smell can be strong and bother some people, but if that's the smell you have, the procedure is successful. If the odor is really foul, you may have too much liquid in the bucket. Drain the liquid (juice) and add some sugar or molasses to increase the microbial activity.

Shells such as clams are not decomposed in the soil. Crush them, then add to the bucket, and minute levels of calcium, magnesium, and other minerals will be released. Coffee grounds are good for the compost. Egg shells will decompose faster if crushed.

If your bucket has black or blue mold, take it out to your yard and bury it with some extra Bokashi and a little sugar - it will still feed your plants. Then start over.

White mold in your Bokashi composting bucket is a sign it’s working. As long as the mold is white, it's OK. The appearance of white mold is a result of breeding filamentous bacteria in Bokashi. You may also see white mold when you are converting fermented food waste into soil in your "soil factory". No problem.

The color and shape of the Bokashi waste does not change very much.  It does not change in an airtight bucket because the food waste is fermented anaerobically. When it is added into the soil, it will transform into "good dirt"

 You want to maintain an anaerobic condition as much as possible. Some suggestions: 

1. Get an old pan lid that will fit inside your bucket and keep that on top of your food waste, pushing down to reduce oxygen. 

2. Put a plastic bag over the food waste inside the bucket, which will help it stay anaerobic as the bucket fills.  

3. Break large items into small pieces which will help reduce airflow.

If you need to drain liquid from your bucket there are many things you can do with it.  It is fermented liquid and highly nutritious, but very strong.  Full strength, you can pour it into your toilet or down a drain to clean and unclog drain pipes; pour it into a pond to clean up algae.  To make a spray for flowers or vegetables, dilute it (1tsp to 2 cups water) and use it within a day, because it will turn sour quickly.

Stage 2 - Composting


  1. Bury the contents of your buckets in the garden, away from other plants. Mix contents with some soil before adding 6 inches of soil to cover contents. In 2 weeks, the soil is ready for planting. Rinse bucket with water only or use EM Probiotic to clean bucket before reusing. Sometimes the bucket smells so I spray with vinegar and set it in the sun to dry.

  2. Bury the contents in your traditional compost heap. Consider your fermented food waste a "green" and cover well with "browns". I usually use leaves I collect in the fall and I add a little soil to the fermented food and mix it a bit.

  3. In a big plastic tub, put some garden soil in the bottom. Mix your fermented food waste with soil, cover with 6" of more soil and put the lid on. In a few weeks the food waste should be broken down, and you can do it again. Make sure to mix your food waste well with soil. I tried this and did not do that, and ended up with a tub of manuer smelling soil/bokashi and the waste broke down very slowly.


A bit more


Bokashi Bran is made with wheat bran, molasses, and EM.  Bokashi is also how people refer to this type of composting.

EM is the abbreviation of Effective Microorganisms, originated by Dr. Teruo Higa. It's a specially developed species of microorganisms such as lactic acid bacteria, yeasts, photosynthetic bacteria and actinomycetes. All of these are mutually compatible and coexist in liquid culture. When applied to soil as an inoculant, these microorganisms function cooperatively to exert beneficial effects on soil quality, enhancing plant growth and protection.

Bokashi bucket composting: In bucket composting you ferment/pickle your food waste in a bucket before you add it to the compost bin. The fermentation process takes about 2 weeks in an airtight bucket, then you can add it to the bin. With bucket composting you can compost ALL food waste - meat, oils, dairy.

In Bokashi bucket composting, the food wastes supply nutrients that feed the microbes in the Bokashi. As the food wastes ferment, the microbes produce a variety of beneficial substances. Some of these substances include enzymes, vitamins, amino acids, trace minerals, some plant hormones, and organic acids. The pickling process controls pathogens and damages seeds in the container.

Worms, insects, and other beneficial microbes finish the process of digestion after the contents are added to the soil. The result over a couple of weeks is increased microbe populations and bio-available nutrients supplied to plants growing in the area.

There are 2 types of decomposition: putrefaction and fermentation. Putrid odor comes from the putrefaction process; not from the fermentation process. In the Bokashi compost process, fermentation is taking place. This is like making wine or sauerkraut. When yeast is added to grapes or cabbage, they ferment, decompose. Yeast, lactobacillus and other beneficial bacteria in Bokashi ferment the kitchen garbage;  therefore, Bokashi compost smells sour like pickles, instead.

I don’t suggest buckets with spigots. Spigots break, and the liquid is very stinky. When you start a new bucket, put 2” of an absorbent in the bottom. I’ve used natural wood sawdust and peat moss. I prefer peat moss, it seems to be more absorbent. The liquid created while fermenting does stink. If you don’t have enough absorbent your bucket will reek after the final 2 week ferment.

The fermentation process in a Bokashi bucket creates a very high acidic environment, which will kill both pathogens and weed seeds. In a traditional hot composting system, it's the heat which kills the weed seeds, but there is less heat in a Bokashi bucket. It's important to create an anaerobic environment in which the Bokashi can work as a fermenter in your bin.

If you are adding Bokashi to your existing compost heap and using it simply as a compost accelerant, and not creating an anaerobic system, then it would be best not to add weeds, meat, dairy or bones to your bin. Put them in the garbage.



4TBS / 60ML EM

4TBS / 60ML Molasses

6L water 

Mix liquids together and then mix into bran. Bran should hold together in a ball when squeezed and crack when poked, but not be soggy.

Once mixed, transfer into an airtight container and ferment at room temperature for 2 weeks. 

When you open the container, it should smell sweet and might have white mold on it. If it has black mold on it something went wrong. 

Dry fermented bran out of sunlight and without heat. Store in a dry location. 

I get my EM here: