Effective Microorganisms Recipes
In this section you'll find several recipes for items you can make with EM-1 ®
Get The Biggest Bang For Your Buck: Make Your Own Activated EM-1® For Less Than $4 Per Gallon!
Please note: Activated products are not for human consumption.
EM-1® microbial products can be grown one time for economical purposes. This "growing" or "brewing" process is called Activation (it used to be called "extension"). It does not mean the microbes in EM-1® are not active; they are. It is just a term EMRO developed years ago. Activation involves taking one part EM-1®, 1 part molasses, and 20 parts water. Numbers can be rounded up or down a bit according to the size of the container and are not crucial to the outcome of the final product.
As with beer and wine, the colder the temperature, the longer the fermentation takes to complete. And, the process is done without air. Any local home brewing supplier will have the materials you will need to successfully activate. These items include airlocks, carboys, tubing, etc. Airlocks and other brewing equipment can be found online through many home brewing suppliers or at a local home brew supply. If you want to keep it really simple, you may use a clean soda bottle with a screw on top. These bottles are very good because they can take a tremendous amount of pressure and can be found virtually anywhere.
- Use a clean airtight plastic bottle or container or large tank with screw-on lid.
- Use a container about the volume of the recipe being made. Avoid containers that have large air space as the excess air tends to interfere with fermentation and do not use containers with loose lids such as 5-gallon pails.
- Be prepared to either make an airlock or manually release the pressure on a daily basis.**
- Use only fresh, clean water. Tap water is fine (yes, even if chlorinated).
- Use blackstrap molasses. Avoid using beet molasses or corn syrup as they tend to spoil easily.
Ingredients (examples of common sizes)
- Mix ingredients in the container. Check the initial pH with a pH meter or pH paper.
- Put on an airtight lid (preferably a screw on lid).
- Attach airlock
- Ferment at room temperature for 3-5 days.
- Some time between days 3 and 5, remove the lid and check the pH of the liquid using a pH meter or pH paper. If the pH is 3.6 or below, allow the fermentation to complete for an additional 5-7 days.
- Toward the end of the fermentation, check the smell of the product. It should have some alcohol smell, some white flakes on it and look and smell similar to the original EM-1®. If all these are true, it is ready to use.
The initial fermentation process takes roughly 3-5 days. During this time sugars are being digested by the microbes. As they do this, they produce various acids that cause the pH to drop. pH is the measurement of Alkalinity (bases) and Acidity (acids). You can easily measure this using some pH paper. The pH paper we sell has a perfect range for testing this. It goes from 3.0-5.5. (Electronic pH meters are sold through scientific companies; however, they require maintenance and calibration and can vary in readings between meters. If you choose to use an electronic meter, maintain it well and use the same meter every time.) The pH paper we sell is very accurate and consistent. There is a color chart on the side of the package that is used to gauge the pH. You generally do not start checking the pH until about 3-5 days after you mix and start the fermentation. However, if you would like to know the starting point and the finishing point, you can check the mixture before fermentation.
When the pH of the solution drops to 3.8 or below and has rested at this pH for 5-7 days, the Activated EM-1 ® is ready to use. The target pH is 3.5.
You will have about 45-60 days to use it at this point.
**During the fermentation process, pressure builds up in the containers as the microbes digest the sugars. To avoid rupturing the container, "burp" it and reseal. Burping may have to be done one or more times per day. You may also use airlocks or blow off tubes similar to what is done in brewing wine or beer.
Activated EM-1® should be kept in an air-tight container to keep it anaerobic and used within 45-60 days after the pH drops below 3.8.
Store Activated EM-1® at room temperature, 68ºF to 86ºF (20ºC-30ºC) out of direct sunlight. Refrigeration is not necessary.
Speed of fermentation: Usually larger batches ferment faster than smaller ones. Sometimes the pH drop will only take 24 hours. Usually we plan for the pH drop (below 3.8) to take about 3 days.
Temperatures and seasonal changes in fermentation times: EM-1® likes warm conditions. Keep the material in a relatively warm area while it is fermenting. (for example, a cellar is too cool for it to ferment quickly.) In the winter, when the temperature is low, place the fermenting mixture somewhere to keep it warm. There is no need to incubate or heat the product as this actually tends to prevent the pH from dropping.
Type of Molasses: Organic molasses tends to have some type of pH buffer in it, which sometimes prevents the fermentation process. You can add in an equal amount of vinegar (apple cider, wine, etc.) to the molasses to help break the pH buffer.
Air causes the Activated EM-1® to spoil. This includes extra air space in the bottle. Be sure to leave as little airspace in the bottle as possible when fermenting.
Try not to make more product than you can use within a month or two to avoid wasting product.
If Activated EM-1® has a foul smell or the pH rises above 4.0, the solution is likely contaminated with something and should be discarded. This material is fine to pour into a long-term compost pile or down a household drain.
What to do with your Activated EM-1®
Now that you have some sweet smelling Activated EM-1, you've let it mature for 7-10 days after it reached 3.5, you need to start using it. Simply replace any of the application rates on our website with the "Activated EM-1®" you made. That's it!
Bokashi Recipe & Bokashi Bran
To make your own Bokashi (in this recipe) you'll need some bran (or some other dried plant material), some EM-1®, molasses, and fresh water. A 50-pound bag of wheat bran made into bokashi costs about $22 to make (including the EM-1® Microbial Inoculant, molasses, and bran). Rice bran costs about twice as much as wheat bran. This recipe takes about 20 minutes from start to finish to make a 50-pound bag of Bokashi. It needs to ferment for a minimum of two weeks and then is dried for long-term storage (up to several years). If you choose not to make it, you can purchase it ready to use.
Where to get the ingredients
Wheat bran or rice bran can be purchased at any co-op or grain/feed supply store. A 50-pound bag of wheat bran usually costs about $20 (plus tax). The molasses can be purchased at a feed store or in any grocery store in the baking section (near the sugars). A quart of molasses is usually about $5. Blackstrap, cane, or feed molasses are what you want. Other sugars can be used, but require recipe changes to accommodate for lack of sugar and minerals and are not as stable during fermentation.
- Large black plastic garbage bag or airtight container(s)
- Something to mix the materials in or on
- Mix one gallon of the water with the molasses to dissolve the molasses. Mix in the EM-1 ®.
- Mix the liquid thoroughly into the bran.
- Squeeze some of the bran into a ball. If it holds shape and no extra liquid comes out, it is the correct moisture. Put into bag or container. If it is too dry, add more water and mix.
- If using the bag, tie the bag tightly, squeezing out excess air. If using a container, press down mixture and cover container tightly.
- Place mixture somewhere warm and out of the way. Let it ferment for a minimum of two weeks. Longer is fine.
- When fermentation is complete, you may notice some white mold on/in the bokashi. This is good. Black or green mold means some air got into the container or it was too moist and is not desirable. You can use the material as is without drying, stored in a closed container, for up to 2 weeks, or dry for long-term storage.
- Keep airtight during storage, whether dry or wet.
EM5 is often used as a homemade pesticide. Fermentation extracts properties out of plant materials and the alcohol and retains them in the liquid. The EM-1® in the recipe is the fermentation catalyst. EM-1® itself has no pesticide qualities at all. This is an all-natural concoction that can be made by anyone and is safer than synthetic counterparts. EM5 combines water, EM-1®, a distilled spirit, molasses, and vinegar. The most successful programs with EM5 involve alternating its applications with Activated EM-1® and EMFPE. EM5 is effective for reducing pest populations because EM5 contains esters formed by mixing acetic acid and alcohol, which provokes intestinal intoxication.
Make it ahead of season! Let this formula age for at least a month.
The formula for 1 gallon of EM5 is as follows (1:1:1:1:20):
- 3/4 C EM-1®
- 3/4 C Molasses
- 3/4 C Vinegar (white or apple cider)
- 3/4 C distilled alcohol (vodka, whiskey, tequila)
- Add some other plant material (fresh hot peppers or garlic...or fresh herbs that have known pesticide properties like mint leaves, lavender, eucalyptus, mella luca, neem, etc.)
- Fill the gallon container with warm water (110-120ºF)
- Seal and ferment until pH goes below 4.0
Spray EM5 alternately with EM-1® or EM-1® Fermented Plant Extract through a hose-end sprayer. The thought here is to prevent the pests from getting used to or building a tolerance to the same product.
Often people will set up an informal program as follows (Diluting the AEM-1®, EM5, or EM FPE with 500 parts water):
- Week One: Apply AEM-1®, 1/2 gallon for 1/2 acre property
- Week Two: Apply EM5, 1/2 gallon (mixed material) for 1/2 acre property
- Week Three: Apply EM FPE, 1/2 gallon for 1/2 acre property
- Week Four: Apply AEM-1®, 1/2 gallon for 1/2 acre property
This pattern is repeated throughout the growing season.
For centuries extracts have been used as elixirs for all sorts of ailments. Individuals would seek out certain plant materials that were known for their beneficial properties and ferment them to extract the desired benefits. This same technology can be used to extract properties from plants such as geranium to make a citronella extra for keeping away mosquitoes. Hot peppers and garlic are also known for their pest-deterring properties. If you incorporate companion planting (basil with tomato), you may find a winning combination to give the effect you want. You can use nearly any plant material known for some benefit in this extract, whether it is for companion planting, pesticide, anti-fungal effects, or micronutrients.
Weeds and other green material can be recycled into an organic foliar spray and insect repellent. During fermentation EM-1® is able to ferment weeds and extract organic acids, bio-active substances, minerals, and other useful organic compounds from these materials which are able to promote plant growth and repel diseases or insects.
MATERIALS: 5 gallon buckets with airtight lids, EM-1®, molasses, water, leafy plant material, and a tablespoon.
- Collect plant material such as weeds, vegetable trimmings, and leaves. If possible chop the plant material into small pieces (i.e. 2" x 2"). Fill the bucket with as much material as possible. If using dried plant material, such as "meals"(such as alfalfa meal), use 1 cup per gallon of total liquid.
- In a separate container prepare EM-1® solution at 1:1:20. (3/4 EM-1, 3/4C molasses and fill the gallon with hot filtered water).
- Pour the EM-1® solution over the plant material, filling the bucket all the way to the top.
- Seal bucket with an airtight lid.
- Place solution out of direct sunlight and allow material to ferment for a period of 2 weeks. After 2 weeks test the pH. The solution pH should be between 3.2 and 3.7.
- Strain off the liquid into another container. The strained liquid is the Fermented Plant Extract.
- The EM-1® FPE is used as a foliar spray to prevent pest damage to plants. Dilute this solution 1:500 (1.5 tsp per gallon) and spray on plant leaves as needed.
- The fermented plant material (not the liquid) can be used as a nutrient-rich fertilizer or compost starter. If used as a fertilizer, spread it out very thin due to its strength.
- Store unused EM-1® FPE in a dark place with relatively uniform temperatures. Solution may be stored up to 90 days.