Barley Bokashi

Oh Yee of Little Faith

Did you think that barley water wash could  be used instead of rice for making bokashi fermenting starter?  I had my doubts.  I dumped milk into the cloudy water three days ago and was afraid that the milk would sit there and spoil and stink up my house.  Two days ago I checked on it and the top of the coffee container was laying on the floor.  I assumed it had just been bumped, so I put it back on.

To my surprise and amazement, when I checked yesterday, the mixture was fermenting vigorously, much more vigorously than any of my rice water/milk mixes.  And so soon!  The curds were formed solid across the top.  I tried to take a picture in my basement, but the glare from the flash reflecting back did not do the picture justice.

Fake Beer?

So, I took the coffee container outside and took another picture.

Curds and Foam

When I was in the Army, stationed in Germany, I was volunteered to be a bartender at a German-American unity picnic.  The Americans wanted me to pour the beer down the side of the mug, to be sure they got their money’s worth.  When I tried the same technique with the Deutsche Herren, they complained “Nix schaum!”, or no foam.  There is certainly plenty of bubbles, foam, and curds on top of this brew!  Carbon dioxide is one of the byproducts of fermentation, alcohol is another.  I then dumped it into a five gallon bucket and left it out in my shed since our weather has cooled off.

It is hard to tell from this picture, but the curds have broken up and are suspended in the liquid.  I now know that this experiment is going to be a success!  I will let the mixture ferment some more, then when it is ready, I will “inoculate” bran flakes, newspapers, wood chips, or?  What’s next, soy, quinoa???  If you have already done this, let me know.  Otherwise, I am alone out here on the frontier.


About reluctantretiree

recent last-minute retiree, husband, father, grandfather, student, technology nerd, fabricator, builder, etc., trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life.
This entry was posted in bokashi composting, composting, retirement, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Barley Bokashi

  1. Pingback: Thinking about Compost « The Quad Pod 5

    • Hi, Cheryl! Thanks for the comment. I guess I am a compost nerd. I have a regular compost heap, red worm bins, and two different type of bokashi buckets (“wet” and “dry”). I intermittently blog about my composting, especially bokashi composting. I make everything from scratch, but, as you probably know, it can also be bought online. I could find no literature on using anything but rice for making EM, so I decided to try barley, instead. It seems to be working, so far. I will have an update in a few days. Two benefits of bokashi; keeping garbage out of the landfill plus making valuable soil enrichments.


      • Cheryl says:

        Compost nerds unite! (Nerd is no longer an insult thanks to the Nerdfighters.) Thanks for sharing your discoveries with all of us. I’d read about the rice wash online elsewhere but your site was the first to mention the barley which is darn cool! It also sounds like the barley wash may work better than the rice wash, I’m looking forward to your update!

        I’m still not sure I understand how to do a wash of any sort, do you just leave the rice/barley in there for the 14 days or is it the kind of thing where you “rinse” the rice and save the water for it? And are there certain brands better for the wash than others – aka are there pre-washed and un-washed rice brands? (And now I have to do some research to see if there’s any information out there on the science behind the wash – I’m full of scientific curiosity!)


      • Cheryl,

        Wash 3/4 cup of rice with 1 and 1/2 cups of water. Strain out the rice and discard, or cook, or put in your compost pile. You are keeping the water, which will be cloudy. Put the water in a container with 50 – 75% headroom and loosely cover, allowing air in. Store in a cool, dark place (basement or shed?) for 5 to 8 days. It should smell slightly sour. That’s the first stage. For the second stage, put the rice wash into a larger container and pour in a gallon of milk. Again, loosely cover, and allow 14 days for a complete ferment. This will give you enough “serum” to “innoculate” enough bran flakes to ferment a bucket of garbage at all 5 of your blog co-authors’ homes.

        Variations: Traditionally, you are supposed to use imported rice and non-chlorinated water. I’m just sayin… I have never heard of pre-washed rice. I have added yeast to the rice wash and have used barley instead of rice. I think other grains will also work. Since you are not planting the seeds, grain from the grocery store will do. I used organic barley which had had the outer husk removed. Some people add a handful of dirt from their yard. You can “innoculate” other things besides wheat bran; newspaper, wood chips, and I am trying straw.

        Decide on a bucket design and just go for it! I am subscribed to your blog and will watch for updates.


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