How to make your own EM-1™ inoculant and Bokashi

rice water EM

Aloha thumbs and friends. I am back to give one of my biggest secrets away, it is my own homemade root inoculate or EM™/BAM(beneficial active microorganism) made with rice water, milk and sugar. There are many shelf bought version for ridiculous pricing, for those with the little know how to make ones own. House & Garden makes Root Accelerator,Hygrozyme, Sensizyme, Advanced Nutrients Voodoo Juice are some of the high priced products that my own home culture works as well as or even in some cases has even worked better. I know many growers that would not even think of culturing their own or even would have the know how to, but I offer you my knowledge for your own frugal organic gardening purposes. Not to mention how I have talked about recycling and composting with worms, now I will introduce you to the Japanese form of Bokashi Composting or fermenting and how to make your own home made cheap alternative Bokashi Buckets and Bokashi mix.


Effective Microorganisms, aka EM Technology, is a trademarked term now commonly used to describe a proprietary blend of 3 or more types of predominantly anaerobic organisms that was originally marketed as EM-1™ Microbial Inoculate but is now marketed by a plethora of companies under various names, each with their own proprietary blend. “EM™ Technology” uses a laboratory cultured mixture of microorganisms consisting mainly of lactic acid bacteria, purple bacteria, and yeast which co-exist for the benefit of whichever environment they are introduced, as has been claimed by the various em-like culture purveyors. It is reported[1] to include:

The concept of ‘Friendly Microorganisms’ was developed by Japanese horticulturist Teruo Higa, from the University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa Prefecture|Okinawa, Japan. He reported in the 1970s that a combination of approximately 80 different microorganisms is capable of positively influencing decomposing organic matter such that it reverts into a ‘life promoting’ process. Higa invokes a ‘dominance principle’ to explain the effects of his ‘Effective Microorganisms’. He claims that three groups of microorganisms exist: ‘positive microorganisms’ (regeneration), ‘negative microorganisms’ (decomposition, degeneration), ‘opportunist microorganisms’. In every medium (soil, water, air, the human intestine), the ratio of ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ microorganisms is critical, since the opportunist microorganisms follow the trend to regeneration or degeneration. Therefore, Higa believes that it is possible to positively influence the given media by supplementing with positive microorganisms.

EM™ Technology is supposed to maintain sustainable practices such as farming and sustainable living, and also claims to support human health and hygiene, animal husbandry, compost and waste management, disaster clean-up (The Southeast Tsunami of 2004, the Kobe Earthquake, and Hurricane Katrina remediation projects), and generally used to promote functions in natural communities.

EM™ has been employed in many agricultural applications, but is also used in the production of several health products in South Africa and the USA.[citation needed] (fuel additive products are no longer available).

A High School in Malaysia, Sekolah Menegah Kebangsaan Dato’ Onn Butterworth, Penang, are using EM to treat Greywater, minimise odour from Septic Tank & remove sludge from drains.

This is a recipe I learned from a friend along time ago.

EM/BAM: this a trade secret!(lactobacillus culture)

1/4 cup rice

1quart Mason Jar

1 cup water

1 fine mesh strainer

80 oz milk depends on how much one is making

1 gallon container or jar

1 tsp. black-strap molasses


1. Place rice and cup of water in mason jar and shake vigorously until water is cloudy white, strain off rice kernels and discard into tour compost bin or cook for dinner. I have heard of the Japanese adding a dash of nato to help ferment but not needed.

2. place cap on loosely and store in a cabinet or cool dark place for 5-7 days.

3. Sift off top layer and strain liquid (serum)

4. measure your rice liquid and now add a ratio of 1 part fermented rice to 10 parts milk, I would culture in a 1 gallon jar. let sit for 5-7 days.

Rice water and milk serum fermenting 3 days - notice lid is only siting on top as to not build pressure.

5. sift off curd settlement and add to your soil or feed your animals it is good for their digestion, then there should be a light yellow serum left this is your unactivated serum.

6. Add 1 tsp molasses to feed and keep your bacteria alive and refrigerate. should have a shelf life of 6-12 months.

7. to activate microorganism activities and to room temperature non-chlorinated water at a ratio of 1 part Serum to 20 parts water.

8. feed to plants either straight into soil or follicular feeding.

Bokashi compost

Store Bought Bokashi

Bokashi is a method of intensive composting. It can use an aerobic or anaerobic inoculation to produce the compost. Once a starter culture is made, it can be used to extend the culture indefinitely, like yogurt culture. Since the popular introduction of effective microorganisms (EM), Bokashi is commonly ma

de with only molasses, water, EM, and wheat bran.

In home composting applications, kitchen waste is placed into a container which can be sealed with an air tight lid. These scraps are then inoculated with a Bokashi EM mix. This usually takes the form of a carrier, such

as rice hulls, wheat bran or saw dust, that has been inoculated with composting micro-organisms. The EM are natural lactic acid bacteria, yeast, and phototrophic bacteria that act as a microbe community within the kitchen scraps, fermenting and accelerating breakdown of the organic matter. The user would place alternating layers of food scraps and Bokashi mix until the container is full.

Bokashi is moderately easy and cheap to make and there are many online video walkthroughs, you tube being a great place for a beginner to get some help, but here is a easy simple way to make Bokashi. Mostly made from wheat husks or wheat bran but I have heard of people using any thing from oats, barley, wood chips and even unsalted peanut husks.

Bokashi Grain :( 10 & 50 lb mix)

10 lbs wheat bran

4 tbsp EM serum

4 tbsp Molasses

10-12 cups non -chlorinated water


50 lb wheat bran

3/4 cup EM serum

3/4 cup Molasses

3-4 gallons Non-chlorinated water

air tight containers such as buckets with lids or storage totes will work too.

Something to mix in or on.


1. Add molasses to water and mix well.

2. Add Em serum

3. put wheat bran in mixing container or on something to mix on if one is making large amounts.

4. add liquid slowly and mix vigourously till all liquid is added

and all bran material is dampened. Bokashi mix should be equally damp and slightly sticks to itself.

5. For my ferment I do 5 gallon buckets and trash bags. Once my mix is ready I line a 5 gallon bucket with 2 trash bags and start scooping my Bokashi mix in side in layer, compacting and squeezing all the air out of my bran mix.(Keynote: Air will create the wrong bacterial culture and if you see black , green or gray mold throw your mix away, white is OK that is yeast.) Tie off bags and place air tight lid on bucket.

6. Store for 14 days in cool dark area for fermenting.

7. open fermented mix(smell should be like apple cider sweet)and Sundry on concrete or on a tarp in the sun, time may vary depending on your location and time of year for drying.

8. Place in container for your Bokashi composting needs, flush down toilet to clear septic tanks, feed to live stock to better digestion.

Well this is a couple cheap easy trade secrets that should benefit your organic medical gardens Thumbs. Be green and frugal it is best we do thing for ourselves. If you feel the need to do more research look into organic farming with probiotics for plants.


  1. Rick says:

    After I let the milk and rice water ferment for a week, I will skim the curd off. Now I have “unactivated” serum, do I refrigerate
    With or without molasses ? Does the molasses activate the serum? Or just unchlorinated water activates the serum?
    Thank you.

  2. Edward says:


    Thank you for sharing your experiences.
    I also have used lacto fermented EM1 in my bokashi with very positive outcome.
    But at the same time still curious if my homemade methode mission out on some important bacterias ( phototropic ).


  3. rev.summit says:

    Aloha Rick sorry for late delay, holiday weekend.
    Your serum is to be refrigerated after straining and when you would like to activate it add your molasses to the serum. The water does not activate the microbes but gives it a large environment to populate. Adding the activated lacto to in chlorinated water with more molasses will stretch your lacto and create a higher rate of replication in microbes but at the same time that activated water will now have a shelf life. This is why it is mixed right before being added to the wheat bran in making bakashi. The water needs to be absorbed by the bran and the organisms piggy back water into the bran start to ferment and then to a point become dormant again till added to waste and reactivated.

    P.S. been getting great result by using 2/3 molasses and 1/3 Organic barley malt in the activation of a newer version. Also experimenting with some brewers yeast versions

  4. rev.summit says:

    Experiment my brother! Make controls as no one said you have to use just these things. As I am experimenting with Organic Barley malt and brewers yeast also in my serums with great results. As a farmer with one plant in one pot, each plant can be a controlled experiment. I encourage growth in knowledge too. As our grandfathers used ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANICS, meaning the harnessed and created out fertilizers and pesticides right out of there own environments. Look into harnessing IMO or IMHO what ever you would like to label them and find what’s best for you. Humans wouldn’t be alive if we needed a company or a magazine article to tell me what I need to grow a vegetable or my meds. 1000 years ago my great grandad didnt need it and I don’t need it today either. Just remember if you are unwilling to do it yourself then you part the problem. Our DRIVE THRU SOCIETY is unfortunately to blame for no farmers and GMO as not enough of a farming army to feed the masses but, we will blindly let a few feed us using chemicals and machines. Keep the homeless starving and worse the masses struggling for jobs, let machines farm for us, and lol maybe the matrix does happen and the farm us.

  5. Florence says:

    Dear Sir,
    Can I check with you what if the rice liquid with milk being fermented more than 7 days, say 21 days, does it brings any effect?
    Hope you can revert. TQ

  6. rev.summit says:

    I have had some let it sit for longer, seems the cheese will start to firm food mold which isn’t always good, but had one patient make a batch and said let it stand 14 days and then sifted off the cheese and the mold and it never touched his serum, and he had no ill effect, but I cannot say that it won’t either. That’s why I make small batches as it has a shelf life. If the serum is refridgerated the shelf life is longer as you may activate small batches of dormant lactobacillus.

  7. Dustin says:

    Question for you do you shack the rice water and milk before setting it in a dark spot? Also, after your 7 days do take all the curd off the top or strain it?
    Thanks for your time Dustin from Michigan.

  8. rev.summit says:

    Well up to you to shake or stir your milk when mixed, but only when first put together. As time and being in disturbed helps the splitting process. And yes strain your cheese off and your serum is what u want not the cheese.

  9. Dustin says:

    So I shouldn’t have nothing in the bottom of the jar? Cause I didn’t stir or shake the milk and the rice water(serum) when I added the milk to it. Is this gonna be problem?
    Thank you for your help and how to make the EM. This is very great and helpful!!
    Dustin from Michigan

  10. rev.summit says:

    Should be no problem, but realize you are adding infected rice water to milk at 10 parts milk to 1 part infected rice water, and after sifting there will still be some cheese settlement this is fine as long as there is only small pieces.

  11. Dustin says:

    Can you add the bokashi straight to the soil without any composted material, will this effect the plants?

  12. Rev Summit says:

    I have had some friends add the bolas hi grain straight to garden areasand have seen newer style bolas hi compost tea brewers. I personally don’t but I do use inoculated coco chunk in my newest soil mixes. The coco chunk is soaked in a activated lactobacillus and hormone stew. Then layered on bottom of my pots instead of perlite and also mixed in my potting mix at a 15%-20% ratio.

  13. Christine says:

    Hi, how do I know if my rice water is well fermented and ready to mix with the milk? Thank you for sharing this great hope for the planet.
    I’ve been using E.M. for almost two years: love it!

  14. jacopo says:

    ciao, spero riusciate a leggermi in italiano.posso aggiungere acqua e zucchero al posto della melassa che non riesco a recuperare?ho filtrato il mio siero finale e lo sto mettendo in frigorifero:devo lasciarlo in un barattolo chiuso ermeticamente?grazie per le eventuali risposte.

  15. Jonathan says:

    Thanks for your generous sharing.
    I have been using bokashi for a while and I’m just about to run out, hence finding this site. I’m wondering if the liquid ‘run-off’ from a previous composting is any use in creating a new batch. Intuitively it seems logical, but I’ve not seen any reference to it anywhere. Any thoughts?

  16. Diana says:

    Can you use something else instead of milk? I don’t consume milk. Mahalo

  17. Rev Summit says:

    It takes about 5-7 days to be ready and stinks like old dish water.

  18. Rev Summit says:

    There are folks using the books hi juice or bokashi-cast stew for watering and also using bokashi brewers. I would try a control but the need for the lactobacillus coming from milk cannot be skipped.

  19. Rev Summit says:

    Cannot make lactobacillus without milk sorry. Lacto only is derived from milk.

  20. Rev Summit says:

    From what my translator gave me let me reply. No water and sugar are not the same as molasses. Molasses are filled with trace minerals which regular sugars have not as they are left in the molasses. Sugar is the final product in processing and is not the processed material with the best qualities.

  21. allan says:

    Water kefir has no milk and is full of LAB and yeast.
    So milk is not required if you want any kind of lactic acid bacteria
    Water kefir thrives on molasses n brown sugar

  22. Hope says:

    RE: Define “Milk”
    Does it matter if you use organic, raw goat or cow milk versus GMO pasteurized, hormone-laden cow milk?

  23. Hoan says:


    I’m just wondering if pasteurized milk would contain lactobacillus? Would it be better to use raw milk or yogurt to ensure the presence of this bacteria?

  24. Annie says:

    Please can you teach me how to prepare EM-5?
    Thank you

  25. Rev Summit says:

    Thank you for sharing Alan I didn’t know that I will try a control batch! Can’t wait!

  26. Rev Summit says:

    Aloha hope,
    Well I have used all those types and all work wonderfully, but I do personally like 2% milk as seams to leave me with a more serum.

  27. Rev Summit says:

    I use pasteurized and works fine.

  28. Rev Summit says:

    Annie aloha,
    Look at my OHN or oriental herbal nutrient post, as the number 5 version is what I call OHN as it is certain ferments with certain herbals, sugars and spirits like vodka.

  29. lawrence says:

    can i use pure sugar-cane in place of molasses?

  30. lawrence says:

    it’s so interesting but how to produce molasses locally?

  31. sandi says:

    Aloha Rev,
    I was wondering if you have heard of a recipe for making a type of Bokashi that is good for ponds. I’m not sure what medium to use. i.e. I don’t want to add more nutrient to the pond, but I want it to be able to settle on the sludge and help with its decomposition. Thanks

  32. mahsen says:

    Can i use brown sugar in substitute for molasses, which is not available in our town.

  33. Michael says:

    Thank you,for this formula. I have been reading a lot of the positive effects of EM1. I have never used it and was going to buy a bottle until I came across your Web page. I am going to make my own. I do have two questions . Is white rice ok or is brown rice better. When I take the inactivated EM from the refrigerator and activate it does it need to set up for a few days before I use it on my garden or plants or do I use it immediately .

  34. Suggest as an alternative to milk lactobacilis would be sourkrout. If you can find some unpasteurized it should make a good starter culture. Most organic cabbage will have the bacteria on them naturally so you could make your own krout and use the serum from it as compost starter. I have some in the back of my refrigerator so I am going to add some water and molasses and see what happens.

  35. Pacifico Yap says:

    Is EM-1 safe for human consumption? If not how do you prepare one? Thanks

  36. Brandon says:

    Once you have your starter culture, how do you feed the starter to keep going?

  37. Rev Summit says:

    What are you referring too the starter culture? The infected rice water or the lacto serum?

  38. Rev Summit says:

    Funny I have a food allergy too food bacteria and have tried thE curd from the top which tasted like cottage cheese, and I feed it to my animals and they love it. I have a friend that takes shots of his own lacto brew, so I would say yes if you have done everything correct.

  39. Rev Summit says:

    Yes there are some bacterial that might be used, but using water will not make lactobacillus as without the milk you have no lactobacillus which is derived from the splitting of the milk. But I am not saying not to try and use the juice from the sourkrout to see if it can create the splitting of the milk.

  40. Rev Summit says:

    Aloha, I have used both brown and white rice to make my lactobacillus. And once you bring your inactive serum to room temp you need to feed them with molasses and you will start to see your foam after shaking and will be active for few days to weeks depending on how much molasses you feed those microorganisms, try adding some barely malt and brewers yeast buds also to add a few more effective microorganisms and benefits to you or your garden.

  41. Rev Summit says:

    I have never feed with brown sugar for this process, but I use it in my muddling of my ingredients for my OHN.

  42. Rev Summit says:

    Make active serum and add into the pond and see what happens as I used it to clean the green Merck out my Oscar tanks more than once and no ill effects to the fish actually they were healthier after, funny made one feeder get so big that the Oscar refused to even bother.

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