How much bokashi bran?

Bokashi bran is packed full of the bokashi essential microbes (EM). These microbes are the power behind bokashi composting. It’s necessary that you add enough bokashi bran to ferment your food scraps effectively. But how much bokashi bran is enough?

How much bokashi bran should you add?

Scrapping food waste into bokashi bucketOne of the easy things about bokashi composting is that you can never add too much bokashi bran. In fact, more is better.

As a minimum, we recommend adding about 1 tablespoon of bokashi bran for every inch of food waste that you add to your kitchen composter.

Sprinkle the bran so that there is an even coverage across the surface of your food waste. You can mix the food waste and bran slightly to make sure the bokashi microbes are spread evenly through the food waste. This will make sure that the bokashi microbes get to work on all of your food scraps as quickly as possible.

If you are adding a larger load of food scraps, make sure to layer 1 inch of food waste with about 1 tablespoon of bokashi bran, and repeat. This will help to ensure even coverage of bran throughout the kitchen composter.

For those new to bokashi composting, we recommend being more generous when adding bokashi bran to the kitchen composter, at first. The extra bran won’t hurt a bit, and it will allow the beginner more flexibility in finding that sweet spot that works for bokashi composting within their kitchen.

Signs that you are not adding enough bran

If you haven’t added enough bran, you will find out pretty quickly.

If you experience any of the following then we recommend adding more bokashi bran:

  • A foul, or putrid smell;
  • Blue/green mold;
  • Problems with pests after the fermented food waste has been added to your garden or compost pile; or
  • Visible pieces of food waste in your soil more than 2-4 weeks after you’ve added your fermented food waste (except bones and large pieces that you did not chop before adding to your bokashi bucket).

If, after increasing the amount of bran, you still experience any of the above then you might want to read this troubleshooting post to help your bokashi composting get back on track.

Blog post originally written on Oct 5, 2016 and updated Nov 28, 2017

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14 thoughts on “How much bokashi bran?

  1. My bokashi bran smells like ammonia. Does this matter or should I throw it out and buy a new bag? We are a small family, just the two of us left now and don’t have a lot of waste. Consequently it takes a long time to fill a bokashi bucket.

    1. Hi Sjannette,

      Thanks for the question. Bokashi bran should have a yeasty, home brew beer type smell. The smell of ammonia would suggest that it has gone bad. How long have you had the bran? If stored at around room temperature, out of direct sunlight and in an airtight container, good quality bokashi bran should remain viable for up to 2 years.

      In terms of filling your bucket, it doesn’t matter if it takes longer than two weeks to fill your bokashi bin. Once the fermentation is complete, the bokashi microbes will remain dormant and the bokashi’d food waste will remain unchanged until you add it to the soil. So, you can just keep adding the food waste until your bin is full. Alternatively, if you want the bokashi compost sooner, you can leave the part-filled bin for 2 weeks to finish the fermentation and start filling another bucket. Cover the food waste in the first bin with a plastic bag or old kitchen plate to keep the air out. After two weeks you can bury the bokashi pre-compost as usual. Then cover the food waste in the second (part-filled) bin and restart filling the first. Either way will work, it just depends what works best for you.

      Feel free to ask any other questions. Happy composting,
      the Bokashi Living team 🙂

      1. Thanks for your reply. I do really enjoy this new way of composting. The bran is maybe six months old. I’ve had in stored in my laundry cupboard in a ziplock bag. I think I’ll chuck it out, just in case and start a new bag. Can you recommend a better storage idea. I’ll await your answer. Thank you for being so helpful.

  2. I agree, it’s probably easiest to start with a fresh batch of bokashi bran. Your storage set up sounds ideal (room temperature, sealed airtight container and out of direct sunlight). This suggests that the bran was not dried thoroughly in the first place. If there was too much moisture in the bran, then it does not store as well. Do you mind me asking if this was homemade bran or purchased bran?

    1. Purchased. I wouldn’t blame the store though as they source direct from somewhere else no doubt. I transferred it into the ziplock by myself so I can’t remember the brand. I threw it out today and am carrying on with the new bag. Or, actually do you recommend I begin the bucket all over again. It had 1/2 cup of the old bran in the base and two additions.

      1. I suggest you add a generous handful of the new bran to the existing food waste in your bokashi bucket. This should ensure that there are enough beneficial bokashi microbes to properly ferment the food waste already in your bokashi bin. You should then be fine to continue adding your food waste and use the new bran.
        Happy composting 🙂

  3. I have 4000 kgs of plant waste (atleast) which I want to compost using bokashi. For this, I have a 1000 liter water tank with sealed lid and no holes. so I’ll be doing the composting in 4 stages. How much bran should I use for 1000 kg of food waste? (Mainly leaves and stems. no bones/hard material)

    1. Thanks for the question. One of our standard 800g bags of premium bokashi bran composts 4 full bokashi buckets (5 gallons each). So 1000 litres of food waste (approx 250 gallons) would need 50 bags (40kg). Using the same ratios, you would need around 160kg of bokashi bran to compost all 4 water tanks of food waste. Hopefully that gives you a rough guide. Obviously, exact amounts depend on the type of food waste being composted and the bokashi conditions.

      We sell our bran online in 10kg bulk, but can discuss costs of larger quantities if needed 🙂

  4. Hi, I’m new with composting. I started my composting before I received my bokashi bran order. I have added food waste into the compost bin several times. So, how much should I add the bokashi bran? Do I need to mix the bokashi bran with the food waste that already in the bin or just sprinkle on the top layer only?

    1. Hi,

      Thanks for the questions. We recommend adding about a tablespoon of bokashi bran for every inch of food waste. The bokashi bran needs to be spread evenly through the food waste so, yes, we would suggest that you mix the bokashi bran through the food waste already added to the bucket. Remember that you shouldn’t add mouldy food to your bokashi bucket. So, if the food in your bokashi bucket is showing signs of mold (blue/green mold) then we suggest you dispose of the old food waste and start again.

      Happy composting 🙂

  5. Can the current, in use, bin live on balcony or deck while being filled with food scraps, say, once a day or so?. We live in California Bay Area and the temperatures never get to freezing where we are, usually the lowest we get is the 40s in the winter. So we would like to store both buckets on the deck out side our back door, one in use and one fermenting.


    1. The bokashi microbes thrive at room temperature so, if possible your bin should be kept in room temperature conditions. If temperatures drop lower, then the microbes will slow down and you may need to allow more time for your bokashi bucket to completely ferment before burying. An extra week or two during colder temperatures should be fine.
      Happy composting 🙂

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