Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Clean Out the Fridge Bokashi

image from Plenty

I’ve done this more than a few times now, so it’s probably time to post the results. Short version:

EM bokashi is not the composting equivalent of Febreeze*.

Okay, seriously. The usual advice is not to put spoiled (esp. moldy) waste into a bokashi bucket. And it’s reasonable advice--bucket fermentation works on a dominance principle, so you don’t want to introduce a bunch of competing microbes.

But sometimes, you have some spoiled food. And if you have a bucket set up anyway…


If you have a vigorous fermentation running, you can successfully treat a bit of spoiled matter along with a larger quantity of fresh. But if you add something so spoiled that it smells bad, there will be an odor in your bokashi bucket. Trust me. And take my word for it, that odor will linger in the bucket for days, rising to greet you every time you remove the lid, gradually transforming from stench to stench-laced vinegar before finally dissipating.

Better to deal with the spoiled stuff separately. I don’t seem to have posted the results of my practical minimum volume tests yet--shame on me--but it’s quite possible to ferment a single berry, if you care to; any quantity of matter can be fermented, assuming you have sufficient quantities of EM.

Which brings me to my post-title: cleaning out the fridge. (It’s a new year, surely someone out there resolved to get rid of the old condiments and back-of-the-drawer stuff. Maybe?) All the out-of-date items, the forgotten rinds of cheese and dubious jellies, the half-frozen wilted celery, the whiffy tomato paste and overlooked half a package of deli meat… You get the idea. It can all be fermented, assuming you’re willing to use ridiculous quantities of microbes.

Use fresh EM bokashi bran, AEM, EM+molasses, or a healthily fermenting in-progress bucket plus dried EM bokashi bran to ensure vigorous microbial activity. Add kitchen discards in layers, with generous quantities of EM between. Mash each layer. End with a heavy layer of EM bokashi bran, or if using liquid EM sources then top with an inch of shredded newspaper for moisture correction.

At this point, it’s a good idea to check the reservoir; if your fridge-purging included a lot of soft or any liquid items, you’ll need to empty and rinse the bucket’s catchment.

Then put the top on the bucket and walk away. This bucket should be stored outside, out of the sun and out of the way, and a weight on top is a very good idea. After a week, drain the bucket (warning: bokashi juice will be stinky! Theoretically still usable, but I haven’t tried), add more EM bokashi bran or AEM if available, then reseal. Four weeks should be sufficient in warm weather, six in cool, after which the contents of the bucket can be treated as any cured bokashi.

Though if you’ve included bones and meat in any form other than stir-fry-sized slivers, you may not want to use that particular batch of cured bokashi in planters without first composting. As always, YMMV.


*It does not deodorize instantly.

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