What is Bokashi Fermentation?
It is the process of pickling organic waste material prior to composting. Waste food stuffs, (including meat, fish, dairy, bones) are added to the special bucket which has a sump to collect the liquid. The aim of the Bokashi system is not to actually compost, but to ferment your food stuffs, this puts it in a prime state to decompose rapidly when it's buried and comes into contact with soil bacteria and microorganisms. The active ingredient is the 'bran' which you will need to keep purchasing for the system to work. The bran contains microorganisms (Lactobacilli, Fungi/yeast, and phototropic bacilli) which cause a fermentation process. When you add new waste to the bin you need to sprinkle 'bokashi bran' on top and push the contents down to exclude as much air as possible, since the fermentation relies on anerobic (with out oxygen) conditions. The container is filled and left to sit for a week or two and the contents are then either buried in the garden or put into the compost bin where they will very quickly compost into nothing. The advantage to adding it to your compost heap is that it will heat up your compost bin, speeding up the composting off all the other contents. The liquid that drains to the bottom of the sump needs to be emptied via the tap and can be diluted 1 to 100 water and used to feed plants, or poured down the drain/plughole, which gives the added benefit of deoderising action.
So, our progress so far? After several weeks of using the bokashi system the contents looks as above. The yellowy brown bits are the bokashi bran (comprised of wheat bran, molasses and microorganisms). The smell is not bad at all, it's like a mild vinegary smell, and only if you stick your fact right next to it. I had heard such terrible things about smells akin to vomit and dog poo, but I suspect people with bad results had skimped on the bran (or maybe they had a lot more meat waste than us, you don't get much meat wasted with 4 Greyhounds). The best bit is that it's started to release fluid, which we can drain off through the tap in the bottom. I've been using it to make fertiliser for the house plants. The only pain is that you can't add tea bags, coffee grounds work great but tea bags produce the dreaded blue mould of doom. Blue mould is apparently very bad in bokashi buckets. No matter, we have a compost caddy next to the bokashi bin so all the non fermentable stuff like paper towels, receipts and tea bags go in there, where they can blue mould to their hearts content. Blimey, what a load of hippies we are turning into!