When we’re disposing of waste food most people know that vegetable waste will safely rot down into compost in the right conditions. There is, however, some doubt when disposing of cooked meat which often turns up as leftovers on the plate.
So, can you put cooked meat in compost? Yes you can but you must be very careful. If we are talking about odd scraps left on plates then there should be no problem at all because the volume of meat here will be very small. The microbial bacteria that will be present in the compost will dissolve this and it will disappear.
If there are worms in the compost then they will play a big part, fully digesting all the material in the mix. They have the ability to render away any disease-causing pathogens that the meat waste may contain. We have a post that looks at the benefits of having worms in any composting system, they definitely make a difference. You can see the post at ‘Worm composting’.
If you know that there is a proportion of meat waste going into a composter system of any kind then it’s strongly advised that you add some hydrated lime as this will provide better conditions for a rapid and effective decomposition of everything in the compost mix.
Looking at cooked meat in compost
We have a post that explains more about the need to involve hydrated lime when making compost. You can see it at ‘What does lime do to compost?’.
Large quantities of meat waste in compost must be avoided for many reasons. Diseases can start at this point and the whole problem can be exacerbated by the arrival of rats who will easily find it if it’s there.
There is a secure way to dispose of waste cooked meat by using the Bokashi system.
Yes it does. And the good news is, it’s very simple to do. To make this work efficiently you need a Bokashi bucket that’s designed for the job. These are buckets with a sealable lid and a drainage tap at the base to drain away the liquid that is generated from the Bokashi process. You also need a tool for pressing the kitchen waste down into the bucket. This will remove air from the mix and allow the fermentation to take place.
A Bokashi bucket can be tucked away under a sink or in the corner of a utility room. It needn’t be obtrusive. The routine for use is simple. Starting with the empty bucket you need to sprinkle a thin layer of Bokashi bran covering the bottom of the bucket. You can then load in the first consignment of green kitchen waste. You then use the pressing tool to push the waste down firmly to extract air. This is where the process differs with conventional composting where we need as much air as possible to encourage aerobic digestion.
Having pressed the material down you can then sprinkle some more Bokashi bran on top of this and put the lid on the bucket. The tight fitting lid is necessary to stop air getting in and any smells from escaping. When you next have waste, just pull off the lid, sprinkle some more Bokashi bran on the material in the bucket. Then add the waste, sprinkle in some more Bokashi bran and secure the lid.
Keep doing this until the bucket is full. You will find that as the bucket fills and the fermentation progresses the liquid will start to gather at the bottom of the bucket. You need to extract this liquid regularly because if you don’t it will generate a smell. The liquid has a limited nutrient value.
When the bucket is full most of the material will have fermented as a result of using the Bokashi but the most recent additions will need a little longer to ferment completely. For best results you need to leave the bucket standing for about a week to make sure everything has fermented. With the liquid having been drained away you will be left with a bucket full of solid material.
The best way to make use of this is to load it into a conventional compost bin or compost tumbler. It will proceed to rot down into compost as air can now mix with it. It’s wise to point out at this stage that, because of the fermentation process that the material has been going through, it will be rather acidic. This will impede decomposition into compost because acids are better at preserving than rotting. To overcome this just add a generous sprinkling of hydrated lime. This will neutralize the acid and allow the material to convert to compost.
If you acquire a large bag of hydrated lime, be aware that this needs to be stored away from any moisture source including moisture from damp air. So place the bag inside a plastic bag and seal it off securely. Doing this will ensure that the hydrated lime will stay as a powder. If you don’t do this you run the risk of it solidifying into hard lumps which you will find difficult to break up.
What is Bokashi bran?
Bokashi bran is a mixture of a dry particulate organic material that has been inoculated with microbes that are conducive with thriving in acidic fermentation environments. The bran part is an absorbent carrier for the microbial inocculant and could be any naturally occurring material. It usually originates from the bi-products of food processing. Here we include bran from wheat or rice milling. Dried leaves can be ground down and used as can sawdust. The microbe part has to be cultured through a fermentation process. This is a selective process that produces a combination of yeasts. These cultures can exist in a dehydrated form having been absorbed into the bran and can be stored this way.
When encouraged to form a culture in the presence of moist, green organic kitchen waste the yeasts will come to life and begin the process of fermentation. It’s this process that generates the liquid that must be drained off. The liquid is mildly acidic as is the remaining solid. This must be taken into consideration when using it as a natural plant food. The acidity can be neutralized by adding hydrated lime.
About cooked meat in compost
What is the meaning of Bokashi?
The word Bokashi has Japanese origins and has other meanings. We present here the fermentation process which has been known about for centuries since ancient Japanese farmers started covering food-waste with soil. This soil contained the essential microbes needed to achieve the effect that we can now get from using Bokashi bran in a Bokashi bucket.
Beyond the immediate application of waste management, it’s referred to as a means to vary lightness and darkness on a printed image. Also with printing and image publication it is referred to as the ‘fogging’ or pixelating of part of an image that has to be censored from mainstream viewing.
The Bokashi for managing waste disposal is also known as EM ( effective micro-organisms). The methodology that involves using a Bokashi bucket and Bokashi bran is relatively modern. It was worked on and developed in the early 1980s at the University of Ryukyus in Japan by the professor Dr.Teuro Higa. It’s understood that the work done here was to do with identifying and selecting the specific microbes from the earliest crude methods used in the ancient farming techniques.
Bokashi composting and worms
Can you give Bokashi to worms? If we are asking about fully fermented food-waste that has come out of a bokashi bucket and feeding it all in one go to a worm composter, the answer is no.
The solid contents of a bokashi bucket will be highly acidic and largely preserved. The acidity will upset the worms quite badly and, because the solid contents haven’t started to decompose, the worms can’t begin to consume.
However, there are things you can do with waste that emerges from a bokashi bucket. Don’t even consider feeding it to worms straight away.
Mix in some hydrated lime with the solid waste, this will neutralize the acid and encourage bacteria that thrive in a non-acidic medium. After adding hydrated lime, leave the mixture for a week or two. This will allow time for clear indications that the acidity has been removed. If you see a variety of moulds and fungi appearing on the surface, take this as a good indication that that this material is well on its way to decomposing. At this stage you can start adding it to the wormery. Add the material a little each day and the worms will be able to deal with it comfortably.
Adding Bokashi to compost bin
The issue here is much the same as with the wormery. Anything that immediately emerges from a Bokashi bucket will be acidic. For the waste in a compost bin to convert into compost the PH level must be as near to neutral as possible. If you need to empty your Bokashi bucket into your main compost bin or tumbler, do so but add with it a generous amount of hydrated lime. This will neutralize the acid and allow the Bokashi material to convert to compost very easily.
Bokashi compost tea
The liquid that is generated from the Bokashi fermentation process is mainly water. There will be a nutrient value in there which will make it a mildly useful plant feed but when you look at the solid material in the bucket you will note that much of the waste is largely preserved. This is not a decomposition into compost so the liquid that comes away will be excess water with some nutrients.
The thing you need to be aware of is the acidity, again. If you have plants that don’t appreciate acidity then you must balance this out by dissolving some hydrated lime in the tea.
Why Bokashi composting?
The Bokashi method of waste disposal involves generating acids which preserve rather than decompose. So this, on its own, is not composting in the full sense. So why should you bother with it? Well we are here to consider the question of how to deal with cooked meat waste. If you put cooked meat waste in a conventional compost bin or tumbler it may not degenerate quickly enough to prevent diseases from spreading into the wider environment. The Bokashi/acid fermentation method will do much to reduce any risk as there are few if any disease-causing pathogens that can survive in acids.
Bokashi soil factory
An organised way of managing the contents from your Bokashi bucket is to set up a soil factory. This involves having a dedicated compost bin where you build organised layers of the pre-compost bokashi material between layers of garden soil.
Start with an empty compost bin, not a tumbler, and place a layer of good quality garden soil in the base. Add the first delivery from the Bokashi bucket and spread it over the soil. Then add another layer of quality garden soil. You can keep doing this until the bin is full. It’s unlikely that the bin will ever fill completely because you will be taking the soil/compost mix from the base of the bin to use as a medium for potting plants or spreading it around the garden. We have a post that explains a little more about managing a Bokashi soil factory. You can see it at ‘Bokashi soil factory’.
Can pre-compost Bokashi material be fed to a Rolypig
Yes it can. The Rolypig compost tumbler is like no other in that it’s an ‘in one end and out the other’ system. Which is just like a conventional compost bin but with the added huge advantage of mixing and aerating the compost. The bokashi process is all about anaerobic digestion that ferments the waste. When this process is complete the product of the process can be fed to a compost bin or tumbler like the Rolypig. We then have an aerobic digestion which is the opposite of anaerobic. I strongly recommend that you add hydrated lime to the pre-compost Bokashi material as you load it into either the Rolypig or any compost bin or tumbler as this will neutralize the acids. Find out more about the Rolypig at Rolypig.com.
After reading this , you may be wondering about pests. Take a look at: how to deter rats from garden.