Trouble fermenting meat and bones

Bokashi CommunityCategory: common troubleshooting questionsTrouble fermenting meat and bones
Raven asked 4 years ago

Hi all! I’ve got my first batch underway and I’m at a bit of a loss. I was doing really well, perfect pickely smell, and then I added in some raw chicken fat and bones and now the whole thing smells like, well, bad chicken. :/ It’s also not making any tea at ALL {been a little less than a week} so I’m worried it’s not working right.

I’m planning on just leaving it {it’s basically full} for a week or so to see if mold or anything starts; I haven’t see anything yet, but should I chuck it now instead?

I’ve read through everything I can find but was hoping for some specific advice here? Feeling frustrated.

1 Answers
Nicki Casley Staff answered 4 years ago

Thanks for your questions. Bokashi composting is still pretty new to most people and there can be a learning curve at first. But you will soon get into a rhythm that works for your food waste and household.
When adding hard to compost items (such as meat, cooked food, and bones) we recommend adding extra bokashi bran. Try doubling the amount that you would normally add for fruits and veggies. If you are adding large amounts of meat without much fruit or veg waste, then you can also sprinkle in a bit of brown sugar. The bokashi microbes thrive on sugar and so adding some sugar with the meat waste can give the bokashi microbes an initial boost. We recommend that bokashi composters are more generous with bokashi bran for the first few cycles of bokashi composting while you become familiar with the process.
The amount and timing of tea will depend on the mix of food waste that you add to the bucket. Drier food waste will produce less tea than lots of moister waste such as fruit scraps. Not getting tea does not mean that your bokashi bucket has failed.
No tea can indicate that the holes in the drain plate are blocked and the tea cannot drain through to the reservoir. Tilt your bin from side to side. Do you hear any liquid slopping about? If so, its likely that the holes are blocked up. Try pressing the top of the food waste hard with the masher to squeeze the liquid out of the bottom.
To move forward, we suggest adding a generous handful of bokashi bran to your bucket. Mix it through the layer of chicken waste, if possible. Seal the lid and leave for a couple of weeks to finish the fermentation period. Keep checking for tea every day or two.
After the 2 weeks, take a look. The best way of telling if your bokashi bucket has worked is with your nose. A sweet, pickly smell tells you everything is fine. A foul, putrid smell tells you that the bucket has failed. In a successful bin you may see white mold or no mold at all. A failed bin will have patches of blue/green mold. 
If the bucket has failed, you can bury it deeper than usual with another handful or two of bokashi bran and leave it for a couple of months. The life in the soil will eventually break it down. Alternatively, you can throw it away in the garbage and pencil this down to a learning experience.
Sorry, that was quite a long response! I hope it is helpful. Feel free to ask more questions 🙂
Happy composting

Raven replied 4 years ago

Hi Nicki! It’s been 7 days since I decided to leave my tub alone and let it do its thing. I just checked and there’s still no tea, nor can I hear any liquid inside at all. I lifted the lid and saw no mold, only a little moisture. The smell isn’t rancid, so that’s good, but neither does it seem like its doing anything. Should I try to mix it? What’s the best way to mix since I’ll be up to my elbows? {Just grin and bear it? :)}

Raven replied 4 years ago

No that’s fine, this is a perfect and very heartening response, thank you so much!

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