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Bokashi Composting

I have recently started trying bokashi composting, I’ve got a two bin set and the bran, however I don’t think the first attempt is going well, it stinks to the point I have to take it outside to fill it or the whole house smells.

I was hoping there may be some experienced bokashi-ers on here who could give me some tips! I’m going to leave the stinky one for a couple of weeks and see what happens, so I’m starting a brand new bin!

- I have been adding more bran than I’d seen recommended to attempt to avoid the issue of not enough, about 40ml per 3cm of waste, if I’m putting a lot in I have made sure to add some then bran then the rest then bran
- most of our waste is veg peelings, coffee grounds (but these aren’t sopping wet as my husband uses a pourover and will leave them in the filter for most of the day until he cleans it at night) and egg shells, with a lesser amount of cooked food scraps (rarely meat) and bread.
- I have been chopping everything to approx 2cm squares


  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 22,351
    edited May 2022
    Hello fellow bokashier!

    I’m a beginner too, only having started to do it last autumn when I thought it might keep rats out of the compost heap.

    We began ours on the basis of making anything that looked remotely edible to a rat become less attractive so we leave out a lot of dry stuff like onion skins because no rat in its right mind is going to eat those, but add the white bits of the onion peelings, which it might.

    We are vegetarians so no meat at all goes in.

    I don’t drink coffee but my OH does. He puts the coffee grounds directly into the compost heap as they are classed as already rat-proof.

    Maybe by putting in such a limited range of things we aren’t doing it as the bokashi creator planned, but I must say the smell is remarkably pleasant. Something like a weak, watered down cheap wine sort of a smell.

    We don’t eat much, so each of our two bins takes about two weeks to fill. We keep them in the cellar, which is a constant 19°C, to keep spillage cleaning to a minimum.

    While one bin is filling, the other is “cooking”. We drain off about an eggcupful of liquid from the cooking one every couple of days. We dilute it with water and use it as plant food. Undiluted, it is a viscous, syrupy sort of light brown colour.

    After the first bin has filled, and the cooking one has cooked for about two weeks, we take the cooked one to the compost heap and tip it out. Everything is still recognisable but it has the appearance of having been pickled. A strong smell, a bit vinegary, but pleasant enough if you like pickles.

    We wash out the empty bin and begin the cycle again.

    We don’t much bother to chop stuff up unless it’s very big like a pineapple top or something.

    I hope that there’s something in there to help you.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • zugeniezugenie Posts: 833
    Thank you @pansyface that is definitely not what ours is smelling like!! Do you get any liquid from it while you are in the filling stage?

    interesting about the coffee grinds, maybe I will dry omitting them and see what happens, ours is in our kitchen but the only other place to store it would be the garage which does warm up on sunny days 
  • AthelasAthelas Posts: 870
    Do you press a layer of thick plastic (e.g. a square piece cut from a compost bag), or a lid of some sort that fits within the bin, on top of the bokashi? That can help keep things anaerobic and assist fermentation. It’s kind of gross as you have to take off the plastic, layer in the organic waste and bran, then press it back on…


    To keep excess air away from the food scraps within the kitchen composter, its ideal to place something to act as an air barrier on top of the food scraps.  Use a plastic bag (recommended), piece of cardboard, or even a kitchen plate placed on top of the food scraps, as you are working to fill the kitchen composter. And leave the item there once the bin is full during  its two week fermentation process.  Be sure to PRESS DOWN hard on the covering barrier as you add food layers, as this will help squeeze air out of the food scraps in the kitchen composter (the covering plate will also serve to keep your hands clean while doing this).

    What you’re doing sounds like what I was doing, except I didn’t have coffee grounds, so not sure why. If it smells really rotten, the advice is to bury it, clean the bins and start over again:,bin%20thoroughly%2C%20and%20start%20again!
    Cambridgeshire, UK
  • pansyfacepansyface Posts: 22,351
    edited May 2022
    No, we don’t get much drainage from the bin that we are filling. Maybe a few drops after a few days.

    Other than pressing the contents down with the little plastic “bat” provided, I can’t say that we fuss too much about it being anaerobic. We do keep the lids very firmly shut though.

    Those of a delicate constitution or those have not yet eaten may care to look away now. Here is a photo of the cooking one - mostly pear, banana and tangerine peelings. And a photo of the draining after about four days from the cooking bin.
    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
    If you live in Derbyshire, as I do.
  • zugeniezugenie Posts: 833
    @Athelas I did have a sheet of baking paper covering it, but I removed it when it started to smell in case it was the cause
  • Ladybird4Ladybird4 Posts: 36,876
    I started using bokashi bins 2 years ago. At first I thought they wasn't working at all and THEN - loads of liquid which I just added to my water butts as that really did smell vile. The bins themselves don't smell at all, apart from when you remove the lid to add more 'stuff' and then it is just that not unpleasant smell PF mentions. I do not cover mine with anything and once one bin is exhausted I start the second bin and decant all that remains in the first bin to the compost bin. I should add that I keep my bins in my GH - no room in my titchy kitchen even though the bins I have are quite small.
    Cacoethes: An irresistible urge to do something inadvisable
  • LiriodendronLiriodendron Posts: 8,218
    I reckon baking paper wouldn't be sufficiently "airtight", @zugenie - we gave our son a Bokashi bin a couple of years ago when they were weaning their first son, and had a lot of waste cooked food to dispose of which couldn't go into the compost bin.  He used a folded plastic carrier bag, pressed down on top of the waste, to exclude air.  Occasionally the smell is a bit powerful (they keep it in a cupboard in the kitchen) but usually it just smells as if they're pickling something...

    I think if you have the option to keep the bin somewhere other than your kitchen, that's probably a good idea.
    Since 2019 I've lived in east Clare, in the west of Ireland.
  • zugeniezugenie Posts: 833
    I’ve ordered some silicone mats that I can cut down to use to cover!

    I could store it in the garage but I wasn’t sure if it would get too warm in there? 

    I will let the stinky bin cook for a week and if it’s still bad I’ll bury it!

    Will make sure no meat goes in the fresh bin and see if that makes any difference
  • zugeniezugenie Posts: 833
    @Liriodendron yeah it’s definitely not a pickling smell, I’m fine with that smell it just reminds me of my sourdough starter, this smells like if you’d put all your food waste in your regular kitchen bin and it sat for a week, distinctly rotting not pickling 
  • AthelasAthelas Posts: 870
    Hope the silicone mats do the trick @zugenie!
    Cambridgeshire, UK
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