A common question we get asked is “How do you know if you have a successful bokashi bin and that your bokashi compost has worked?”
The fermented food scraps in a successful bin will look very similar to those that you put into the kitchen composter. Even after the two weeks of fermentation in the bokashi bucket, your food scraps will still resemble food waste. The pre-compost will not look like traditional dark brown soil-like compost. But don’t worry, even though your fermented food scraps look very similar to the items you put into the bin the physical and chemical properties of your food waste has been altered meaning that it will be quickly broken down into your soil or compost pile when buried.
So, if the food scraps look very similar to when you put them into the bin, how do you know if your bokashi fermentation has been successful?
Top 3 signs of a successful bokashi bin
1. Sweet and sour pickle-like smell:
Your bokashi pre-compost should have a sweet and sour pickle-like odor; a cross between pickled vegetables and home-brew beer. The smell should not be unpleasant or overpowering. This is the most common sign that your bokashi fermentation has been successful.
If your bokashi kitchen composter smells putrid and rotten, then something has gone wrong. Find out what may have happened and tips for preventing this happening again in our troubleshooting post.
2. Bokashi tea:
Probably one of the first signs you’ll see of a successful bokashi bin is bokashi compost tea from your kitchen composter. You will typically start to see some tea within the first week of putting in your food scraps. BUT the amount of compost tea and the time it takes to be produced, will vary depending on the amount and type of food scraps that you add to the bin.
If you don’t see any bokashi tea, you may still have a successful bin.
3. White mold:
White mold and fungus on the top of your food scraps is a sign that the bokashi microbes are thriving and multiplying in your bin. Blue/black or green mold are a sure sign of a failed batch of pre-compost.
White mold is not always visible, even after the two week fermentation period. However, as long as you are not seeing blue/green mold in your bin, then you can be comfortable that the anaerobic bokashi microbes are thriving.
Other posts you might like to read:
[…] process does not have the same appearance or smell as the methods. The compost should have a sweet and sour pickle-like smell or alcoholic smell, bokashi tea, white mold, and will not appear fully decomposed like the other methods. Bokashi compost cannot be utilized […]
hello good day, I have a question? My country has a heavy supply of sargassum sea weed, is it possible to use the bokashi system to turn this sea weed into fertilization. thanks for your help.
We typically recommend that bokashi is used on food waste as the microbes thrive on food waste and this produces the highest quality compost. Bokashi could work for seaweed, but you will likely need to add additional sugars or food waste to help feed the bokashi microbes.
It’s about a week since I started my Bokashi but my bin is only 2/3 full. I added more kitchen scraps. Can I keep adding more? Or just put a lid tight and don’t open for another week or more?
Thanks for the questions 🙂 It takes the average family around 2 weeks to fill the bokashi bucket (though obviously that ‘average’ varies widely depending on the size of your family and the amount of food waste produced). You can keep adding more waste until the bin is full, or if you want the pre-compost sooner, you can cover the food waste with an old plate or plastic bag, put on the lid and leave for two weeks to ferment. Most people find that a two bin system works well on a two week cycle. Two weeks to fill a bin, two weeks for it to finish its fermentation while filling the second bin.
Hope that helps. Happy composting 🙂
My tea has a white mold in it. The bottom of the bucket has sheets of the stuff. Is this okay? Bin smells sweet and I don’t see any mold on the food scraps themselves. Good?
Thanks for the question. White mold in the tea is perfectly fine. As long as the mold is white, then everything is fine. The appearance of white mold is a result of breeding filamentous bacteria in bokashi. The same as you may see in your bokashi bucket. And if you are getting the characteristic sweet bokashi smell, then you know everything is working as it should be.
The white mold usually occurs at the edges of the bokashi food waste (where there is some exposure to the air). So it is most common to see around the top of the food waste. If you are noticing white mold around the bottom of your bucket it may suggest that there is a small amount of air leaking in through the spigot. I would suggest you take a look and tighten the spigot next time you have the bin o[en; just to make sure it doesn’t come lose and leak tea. Tightening the spigot is fairly easy. How to tighten the spigot on your bokashi kitchen composter
Nicki and the Bokashi Living team