In some bokashi bucket, if the lid is not put on tight then it may cause a foul smell. Other issues with the moisture, the heat or temperature may make the bokashi go bad. Let's see some ideas why & how to fix it now.

Causes of bad-smelling bokashi

#1 The air

If your bokashi is giving off quite a bad smell, check if the lid is put on tightly. With bokashi we're going into an anaerobic mode, so we want little or no air/oxygen to get in. See also if the container is air-tight. Any leakage holes around it may cause the air to get in.

#2 The moisture

Also, have you checked that there's some juice collecting at the bottom of the bin? Remember to drain it out every 2-3 days or when it starts to fill up more. Letting the liquid sit there may increase the wetness & humidity, which can make the contents smell bad. We'd also want to separate out the solids from the liquid. So use a screen, a garbage bag liner or some separator with holes so the food waste don't sit directly in the liquid.

#3 The bokashi itself

The bacteria in the bokashi is the key to this process so make sure that they are healthy, active & alive. If you make your own bokashi, use good materials so the bacteria turn out well. Sometimes, after many multiplication the fourth & fifth generation of bacteria may not be as strong & vigorous as the parent one.

Be sure to use enough bokashi to decompose the hard-core stuff like meat, bones, diary or any high-protein foods. Too hot a temperature may kill the microbes as well as too cold. If you store your bokashi, use a fridge at around 5-10C (41-50F) for best chances of microbe survival.

#4 The food waste

It is okay to add one or two slices moldy bread to the bokashi. If your good microbes outnumber the fungi, then this should be no big deal for them.

If you add too much spoiled foods, then the bokashi themselves may not be in a good position to fight the bad guys. Then, when they take over the batch may go bad & smell bad. Anything but white mold means the bokashi has gone bad. It may give off a slight ammonia smell as well.

Try to layer the food waste & the bokashi so they get mixed in well with each other. For about 3-4 inches of food, sprinkle in some bokashi grains or put in a circle paper soaked with good microbes. Do this layer by layer up near the top.

#5 Temperature

Be sure not to expose your bokashi batch to direct sunlight. The UV rays can kill off the bacteria, leaving open ground for the bad microbes to roam. Also, don't transfer the bucket to places with extreme temperatures too often.

Around the 50s F (10C) is okay for them to go into sleeping mode. Below that may freeze them to death. If it's winter, get the bucket inside in a warm spot. In the summer, find a dark cooler place like in your cupboard to keep the bucket.

But what if your bokashi has gone bad & disgusting? Here are some ways to deal with it:

What to do with spoiled bokashi

With the spoiled, disgusting-smelling bokashi you don't have to throw them away. We can still re-use them.

For backyard

If you have some space in the backyard, dig a hole about 1ft (30 cm) deep a little further away from any near-by trees. Then, layer about 1/2 lbs (220 gr) of bokashi at the bottom. Dump in the spoiled batch. Then, top it up with another 1/2 lbs layer of fresh bokashi. Finally, cover it with a layer of soil.

The layer looks a little bit like this:

Layering spoiled bokashi
Top soil
Fresh bokashi
Spoiled bucket
Fresh bokashi

In the summer, this stuff would take about 2 weeks to break down. In the winter, it can take up to a month. When it's done composting, you can use that area to plant flowers & veggies like normal. The spoiled bokashi would have turned into good compost to add back nutrients to your garden soil.

For containers

You can also handle this spoiled contents in a container. In a 10-gallon (or two 5-gallon) planters, put in a bottom layer of soil. Then sprinkle some good handful of good bokashi on top of that. Pour the spoiled contents of your bokashi in. Top it up with some good bokashi.

Then, close the lid tight. You can take this out on the balcony or somewhere distant from your living spaces. Then, in about 2-4 weeks, it will decompose like normal. The smell will also disappear. You'll then have good, nutrient-rich compost to plant your flowers & veggies in your spaces.

What about the liquid that we juice out? What can we do with it? Let's see:

What to do with the drained liquid

The drained leachate from the bokashi can be used as a compost tea for your garden. It is best to use it the same day you drain it out. About 1 tsp per gallon of water will do.

But if it smells bad, the quickest way that many of us do is to dump it off the drainage system. If you have some bokashi left, throw them in the liquid.

It will help eliminate the odor & purify the water. We can then use the liquid again. The concentrated juice is good for unclogging toilets as well.

Have a great bokashi

Now you know some reasons why a bokashi batch may go bad. Stay away from these troubled points & you'll be set for a great, nutrient-rich compost. Even if the contents have gone bad, you'll still have a fall-over plan to know what to do with it. Good luck composting & have lots of fun.

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