Friday, February 27, 2009

More on Bokashi

I feel like I need to say more about bokashi. I am not an expert but based on checking around I have seen some claims that aren't completely true. Somebody out there claims that the bokashi method does not generate ANY greenhouse gases. That is simply not true.

I said in my last post that I am not doing this scientifically at all and that not completely true either. I understand some basic science, I took chemistry is high school though I have forgotten much of it I know that yeast microorganisms feed on sugars and that the end product is alcohol and carbon dioxide. Bokashi has some yeast in its mixture of efficient microorganisms (EM) therefore it must generate some CO2, unless there is another chemical reaction that changes it into something else after that and there isn't.

I live with a homebrewer, Todd which by the way is very nice and he has influenced me in daring to try bokashi without purchasing EM products from anybody. You see no matter what you do with your waste it will 99% of the time will decompose somewhere and somehow. The process is quite similar to brewing beer and winemaking.

Usually when Todd starts a batch of hooch he sterilizes everything that comes into contact with it and when his batch is ready he mixes in a specialized strain of yeast. I think he splits up most batches into several vessels to brew that he inoculates with different yeasts. The craziest thing he has done is to brew something with a 'wild' yeast, that is something that was just floating around somewhere and in many instances the end result has been very nice. This has been my approach to bokashi.

I will borrow from a discussion of hard cider. We start with a trusting free-spirit describing their method of making hard cider.

Trusting free-spirit:
1. buy a gallon of apple cider
2. take off the top
3. cover bottle top with cheese cloth
4. stir every day until fizzy
5. put an airlock on bottle
6. forget about cider bottle fermenting in the back of the closet
7. remember cider.
8. drink cider.

it's really that easy.
Todd's response:
she leaves the door unlocked.
this means friends might come over and give you a surprise party,
or you could come home and find your tv is gone and someone took a dump on the floor.

by using a known yeast, and sanitary practices, you can control more of the process and get reproducible results. to be fair, i have made a few brews from wild, spontaneous fermentations and haven't suffered yet. you can culture your own wild strain(s) like sourdough and use it over and over again

Bokashi is quite different from making hooch. You are dealing with a solid product that comes out solid and there are many varieties of micro-organisms involved. But I believe that the worst case scenario is better than that in brewing. If I have a batch that is off it will decompose anyway. And because I am thrifty I will try it. If I end up with a bunch of putrid batches I'll change my ways but so far I have emptied about a half a dozen buckets and they've been OK. In a few weeks I'll check the bed I've been burying them in. It's just thawing out so I don't think that they've had a chance to properly decompose but the bed does not smell bad.

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