There is no universal agreement as to what "EM" stands for. Most agree that the "M" means microbes. Some say the "E" means "Efficient" or "Effective". It is my belief that the "E" means "Earth", and refers to the fact that the microbes in question are soil-based organisms that live in the soil, from which they can become airborne when the soil is dry. 

Quick EM:

Mix sauerkraut juice, sourdough slurry tea, kvass and kefir whey. Add water, sugar syrup and malt extract. Add some edible clay, a teaspoon per pint, Cover with cloth and put on a warm, sunny windowsill for three days to a week.

For a more complex recipe, read below. This first recipe includes only known safe micro-organisms from your kitchen. See below for recipes using microbes harvested from the soil.

Step #1
In a clear glass jar, combine the following:
1 cup (8 ounces) of warm tea made from the leaves of an assortment of edible tall trees (such as oak, maple, hawthorn, sassafras, chestnut.) (Tall trees will have roots that reach down lower in the soil to bring up trace minerals lacking in depleted surface soil. Do not use leaves from trees whose leaves are regularly harvested for their leaves rather than falling on the ground below the tree, such as tea trees)

60 mls/4 tablespoons sugar syrup
15 mls/1 tablespoon barley malt extract
5 mls/1 teaspoon molasses
15 mls/1 tablespoon of raw honey
juice of a wedge of lemon
1 tablespoon of raw milk clabber whey
1 tablespoon of kefir whey (source of lactic acid bacteria)
1 tablespoon of sauerkraut juice
1 tablespoon of kvass
1 tablespoon of sourdough tea
contents of a capsule of red yeast rice
1 teaspoon of unpasteurized miso with aspergillus oryzae

Cover with an airlock of clear or translucent plastic (saran wrap or plastic baggies, for example, but do not use biodegradable plastic.) secured tightly with a rubber band and set in a warm, sunny window sill. Keep it for 7 days after fermentation begins. Stir or shake occasionally if mold forms on top.

Step #2
After it has fermented for 7 days, drain the tea off the sediment. In a clear glass jar mix:
http://lowmoonglowing.googlepages.com/em2.jpg1 cup (8 ounces) of EM tea
1 cup of tea made from assorted trees and plants (walk around the garden tea)
6 tablespoons powdered oatmeal
2 tablespoon of sugar syrup or honey (Molasses can be added up to 1% of the total.)
2 papaya tablets (or chunk of mashed papaya)
juice of a wedge of lemon

Elective Ingredients (these ingredients are food for the microbes and are not required each one by themselves but a good portion of them or similar substitutes should be included)
1 teaspoon of bone meal powder (or can be taken from bone broth which has been made from soup bones from a local pastured animal that has been simmering long enough so that it can be crushed with the fingers)
1/2 teaspooon finely ground or powdered sand.
1/2 teaspoon French green clay (or 1/2 teaspoon volcanic ash
or other colloidal minerals)
1/2 teaspoon kelp (or dulse powder)
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan crystal salt (or full-array sea salt)
1/2 teaspoon crushed linseed (or chia seed)
1/2 teaspoon powdered turmeric
1/4 teaspoon spirulina (the contents of 2 capsules)
2 tablespoons of apple juice (or fruit juice or extract)

Cover with a clear plastic airlock.
(Do not use biodegradable plastic.) Leave on a sunny window sill. Stir once a day for the next 3 days and then leave it to ferment anaerobically for another 4 days.

After it has fermented for another 7 days (for 14 days in total), skim off any scum that may be on top and strain through a knit cotton cloth, or use a plastic siphon to draw out the liquid and leave the sediment behind. Store the liquid in a glass jar in the fridge, covered but not airtight. (Put the sediment onto the compost, or use it to start bokashi.)

The strained liquid can then be used for any of your regular ferments, to make an EM beverage or can be added to pasteurized food or milk to restore the vital enzymes that have been lost. It can also be drunk as is 1 or 2 ounces at a time after meals to improve digestion.

Even though some of the bacterial colonies will be gone because some of the microbes will eat the lower order microbes and take their place, the enzymes will be retained by each succeeding colony of microbes. It is the enzymes, as much as the microbes, that are necessary for digestion and good health.

To make an EM beverage (EM#3), mix
(Put a stick of cinnamon, a nutmeg and a vanilla bean in the bottom of a ceramic tea pot for extra flavor, if desired, or use the spices or flavorings of your choice. Cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla bean can be left in the pot and re-used for as long as they still add some flavor to the tea).
Fill the teapot up with mixed tall tree leaves and plants and herbs from your garden
Add 800 mls of boiling water and let steep overnight
In the morning, drain off the tea through a knit cotton filter
Add 50 mls of EM#2 and 150 mls of sugar syrup
Pour into a liter wine bottle and cover with a plastic cork, or pour into clean plastic soda pop bottles and cover with a twist-on plastic cap. Store in a cool dark place and drink within a few days.
If carbonation is desired, use the plastic soda pop bottle and drink it when the bottle has become firm to the touch and cannot be squeezed.

 Other Things To Feed Your EM 

1 apple
1 beetroot
1 mashed banana
1 tomato
1 grated carrot
1 Tablespoon of brown rice
1 Tablespoon of whole grain wheat or spelt
1 Tablespoon of powdered oatmeal or oat bran
1 ounce of malt extract
Peel food if not organic, otherwise peel can be left on. A little organic dirt is OK. Chop apple and beetroot. Mash banana and tomato. Grate carrot.
 Why We Culture Enzymes 

When we eat, enzymes in the saliva in the mouth increase in order to begin to break down (digest) the food. We are born with the ability to make thousands of enzymes, but many people are unable to activate them because they do not have enough of the trace elements needed to complete the enzymes.
Trace minerals give enzymes longevity, giving each cell the electromagnetic charge they should have.

In the stomach, food is mostly broken down by hydrochloric acid, and then it goes to be digested in the intestines by enzymes and the microbes that live in our intestines.

If we do not have the necessary enzymes to break down and digest a particular food, the undigested materials will be absorbed through the gut as is, and accumulate in our system leading to weight gain, inflammation, stagnation, digestive distress and general fatigue. These symptoms may be called or diagnosed as leaky gut, food allergies or intolerances, GERD or acid reflux disease, but they are all different manisfestation of indigestion -- the inability to digest food properly due to lack of sufficient enzymes.

Other digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, celiac disease, IBS and candida are probably not solely caused by simple indigestion and probably have other complex associated causes, but increasing enzymes and microbes and improving digestion would undoubtedly help them.

Raw foods contain enzymes so they will naturally deplete less of our enzyme stores. Fermented foods contain even more enzymes and they can replenish or build up our supply of enzymes.
Enzymes represent vitality. Eating cooked foods drain the body of enzymes and vitality. Enzymes can be purchased as supplements, but would be very difficult to manufacture and/or extract at home. Microbes, on the other hand, are easy to grow and they will create the enzymes for you.

 What Is EM?

EM means "Efficient Microbes" or "Earth Microbes", depending on who you talk to. It refers to the beneficial micro-organisms that culture and ferment our food and are symbiotic with us in our gastro-intestinal tract, or it refers to the fact that the microbes come from the earth. If you make yogurt, wine, kefir, kombucha or kvass you are using some of these microbes already. These microbes come from and live in the soil, so they are also called "soil-based organisms".

Some microbes can harm humans. To ensure there are no pathogens in your EM beverage, you have to either
Use only microbes that have been used as food, from your kitchen, such as those mentioned above,
buy micro-organisms from a trusted source that guarantees that they are safe or
(3) get a microscope and other lab equipment and test them yourself. Instructions or information about each option are given below.

 Making An EM Beverage With Purple Non-Sulphur Bacteria (PNSB)

To make EM, you have to include a bacteria called PNSB, which stands for "purple non-sulphur bacteria". Currently, there is no pnsb used as food, so you either have to (1) eliminate it, (2) buy it from a safe source or (3) culture and test it yourself. The instructions at the top of the page make an EM beverage with the pnsb eliminated, because there is no easy way to make one in your kitchen. Instructions or information about buying or making a pnsb culture yourself and testing it yourself are given below.

Chemport of South Korea makes PNSB (click here). As of this page being written, there did not appear to be any way to purchase this product . However, it is possible it is used as an unidentified ingredient in other products.

Pet stores in the UK carry a product called Aquarium Treatment Filter Start. They don't say exactly what ingredients are in the box, but it does say it is "cultures of selected bacteria". It may well be pnsb, as filtering aquariums is something pnsb does well.

WHERE TO FIND PRIMARY-SOURCE PURPLE NON-SULPHUR BACTERIA: anaerobic mud in ponds and lakes where there is access to sunlight; surface water from streams, bogs and transient puddles and rain, snow, icicles and hailstones.High concentrations have even been found in the water in carnivorous plants.

Commercial EM

http://www.tpr-net.co.jp/ In Japan, EM beverages are sold on the street, by the bottle. These pages in a google translation give you some flavor of the ordinariness of EM in Japan compared to western countries, and may give you some idea of what your product should look like when it is made:
link1  link2  link3  link4  link5  link6  link7  link8  link9  linkX

Biokult, Primal Defense and Nature's Biotics also claim to contain soil-based microbes, but not, I believe, the PNSB necessary to make it "EM".

Primary (Soil-Based) Sources EM

Deep soil
Pond muck
Bird droppings
Moldy barn hay
Liquid in carnivorous plants

If you get EM from a primary source you will need to perform various tests on it to assure its safety and efficacy which are beyond the scope of this page.

 Obtaining cultures from other, non-orthodox or not food-tested sources 

In general, most people who make EM appear to have the attitude that "We don't need inexperienced people trying things that get themselves or others sick or worse, thus setting back the product, industry, etc." so there is very little help to be had in finding out ways to make your own EM brew. There are
companies that sell the bacteria you are looking for, for different purposes, but do not necessarily list the bacteria on the label.

sells an aquarium product that contains .Lactobacillus sp., Streptococcus sp., Aspergylus and Fungi: and another product that contains various strains of Rhodobacter, Rhodopseudomonas sp. and Rhodospirillium sp.. All of these are suitable for EM-type cultures.

 Making EM  from Soil-Based Organisms From Primary Sources 

To make EM, you need to get a culture of bacteria. You can buy food grade EM starters online. Search for  "food grade" EM'. They are very expensive, especially considering they sell them by the quart and you only need 1 tablespoon.

You can also make your own starting with a culture extracted from moist, deep soil, the muck at the bottom of ponds and in the liquid in the pitcher that forms the trap in carnivorous plants. However, you should be aware that there are some risks involved in making your own culture from these primary sources (see above). EM comes from the soil and any commercial EM had to get its start from the soil, but, presumably, buying it from a commercial source rather than getting your own for free, much as it goes against my grain to say this, may be the safer option.

If you buy a commercial EM, follow their instructions for AEM (activated EM).

If you want to make your own primary culture from deep soil or pond muck, put it in a clear glass container, add water, mix thoroughly and then let it set. After the dirt or other solids have settled to the bottom, you can look at the water to make sure there are no parasites (roundworms) swimming around in it. Pour off the water into another clean glass jar. (Discard the dirt.) Add some sugar syrup to the water, cover with a loosely woven piece of cloth for 3 days, and then replace the cloth with an airlock and again let it set for awhile. Keep it in a sunny location.

Let a patch of grass in a sunny location grow to full height and seed and then turn dry. Take some of the straw (stalks) from this hay and add it to the water made from soil above.
Wait until it shows signs of fermentation. A microscope would be helpful at this point. Check again for parasites that may have grown larger during this time. If it is still parasite-free -- and this is your responsibility -- you can start making your EM with it.

 Making a batch 

When making your brew, it is important that the right microbes get started at the beginning, so undesirables do not have a chance to grow. If you have brewed ale or made kombucha, you are probably familiar with this concept. To suppress undesirables, start with a small dilution at first, and then increase. In other words, start your brew half culture and half water and sugar and when that is brewing well, add more water and sugar. Another thing that will suppress undesirables is to brew in a plastic soda pop bottle with screw-on top and screw the top on which will raise the pressure with the CO2 buildup which will increase the CO2 and hydrogen in the brew, causing the pH to drop faster (and literally feeding some of the organisms faster) and inhibiting bad germs

After you have a goodly amount of EM brew with a good brew going, you can put in your additives/foodstuffs. Remember it is important to keep stirring and shaking after putting in additives so that everything stays evenly distributed.

 Make Your Own Efficient Soil-Based Microbial Organisms Cultures 

   1. Take a heaping tablespoon of wet earth from some area that gets a lot of sun, about a foot deep.
   2. Mix it with warm water
   3. Take 2 cups of vegetable kitchen waste and mix it with a cup of warm water and put it in the blender on high speed. Add more warm water if necessary. Blend until it forms a thick puree.
   4. Let the dirt and water stand still until sediment forms at the bottom.
   5. After dirt has settled out from water, pour into the kitchen waste slurry and mix.
   6. Put this in wide-mouth glass jar.
   7. Cover with leaves, cut grass or other plant material.
   8. Cover the mouth of the jar with a piece of plastic secured tightly with a rubber band.
(Do not use biodegradable plastic)
   9. Put someplace where drainage will not be a problem, and let it sit for 3 days, during which water will fizz and bubble out of the top.
  10. After 3 days, replace water and then replace plastic and elastic.
  11. Put someplace where drainage will not be a problem (I put the jars in plastic bags and stick them outside in moderate weather) and let sit for a month.
  12. After a month, open the jar, throw away the leaves and pour the liquid onto the soil in the garden.

 Make Food-Grade Microbes 

Microbe elixirs contain cultures of photosynthetic bacteria, yeast and fungi. The original source is dirt. To start your own culture, you would take a heaping tablespoon of moist dirt from a sunny, open location, as deep down as you can dig, mix it with water and when the dirt settles at the bottom, use the water on top to begin culturing until you arrive at a food-safe culture. If you don't have the expertise or know-how, or sense of adventure, to determine when it is safe to use as a food starter, it would probably be better to buy a commercial EM product the first time and then use that to start a never-ending microbial culture. These instructions will assume you are using a product that is already made to a legal or government food safety standard. If you feel you want to do it yourself, see my page(s) on Harvesting Wild Yeast, learn how to make ales or other brews from airborne yeast cultures, and, after you have done that, you can transfer those skills to making your own microbe soup from dirt, if you want.

However, having said that, I decided that I, personally, wanted to cultivate my own soil-based microbes, rather than buy a commercial brand ($33 + shipping). The problem with geophagy (eating dirt) is not so much with the single-celled so-called bacterial pathogens, which apparently do no harm when cultured in this manner, (tending to prove Antoine Beschamps' germ theory that a diseased state causes bacteria to go bad, rather than Pasteur's theory of the opposite), but with multi-cellular parasites, roundworm in particular. Roundworm is very tiny but it is visible, so working with soil cultures I will have to make a close visual inspection to make sure the water I draw off the soil is completely clear with nothing visible swimming around in it. I will then have to pass it through a filter with a weave large enough to let bacteria, yeast and single-cellled fungi through, but small enough to exclude other organisms. I have no idea what size holes I should be using.

My plan is I'm going to filter it through a thin cotton handkerchief. Then I'm going to try to make a ferment (i.e., beer) with the filtered liquid. If it ferments, I'll know that yeast got through, so the bacteria would have made it, too. Then, I shall drink said liquid, which may, or may not, give me some idea if a parasite was in the liquid. (Backup plan: eat lots of garlic if I experience signs of roundworm).
If I can successfully extract a good culture from the soil, my plan is to give the instructions on how I did it to anyone, so they can try to do it on their own, but I still have to advise them to buy it already made to food standards.

 http://windintheroses.googlepages.com/rose_left_3.gifMake A Soil-Based Culturehttp://windintheroses.googlepages.com/rose_right_3.gif


First, I dug up a spoonful of dirt from the garden. (Next time I would dig deeper into damp soil.)


Next, I put the dirt in a clean glass jar


and add water


Let the dirt settle. When the water is clear, inspect visually to make sure there is nothing swimming around in it.


Pour the clear water through a cotton handkerchief, do not squeeze, do not wait until it has all dripped through but just use the water that goes through quickly at the beginning and throw the rest away.


Put a spoonful of molasses into the filtered water,


mix molasses and water let it sit until it shows signs of fermentation

  I don't make a batch of EM 

But here are some things I have come to learn about it if I did:

     * Brew in a clear or translucent container in the light to encourage phototropic bacteria
     * You have to have a microcope to check for parasites
     * You need to be able to test for pH. no higher than 3.4, 3.2-3.3 would be better. If it is 3.5 it is still OK to put on your garden, but anything above 3.6, throw it out. See ph_test_strips on how to make your own pH testing strips.
The precise makeup of the microbes in EM is not that important, as long as you have purple non-sulfur bacteria, lactic-acid bacteria and yeast.
     * To test for purple non-sulfur bacteria: A DIY "ball park" test for levels of PnSB in EM can be the rh2 score. A lower rh2 score indicates higher level of antioxidant action which indicates a higher level of PnSB in EM
The rh2 score is similar to an ORAC assay which is really expensive.
To find the rh2 score you need a PH and ORP pen, they are both offered in one pen or you can buy an ORP pen for about $100.00 by itself. To convert Ph and ORP score into rh2 score:
rH = (ORP + 200) / 30) + (2 * pH)

  Reducing the Risk of Pathogens in Your EM Brew 

can survive in oxygen. Reducing molasses may reduce the likelihood of e-coli. Brew long enough for a balance of bacteria/archaea and protozoa so that e-coli will be controlled by protozoa (hopefully).

Test Your EM Before Trying
Look at the seal to see if the fermentation was anaerobic (most microbes that are dangerous to humans when ingested need an aerobic environment to grow.)
Sleep on it -- think about it for a day and ask yourself if you think it's safe.
Sniff test -- The smell has been described as sweet, healthy, earthy, clean and tart. It should not be unpleasant. 
Taste test -- it should taste astringent, acidic, tart. sweet and sour, with a slightly dusky background flavor of molasses, effervescent. Spoiled will make you gag. (taste only a drop, a drop is 1/60th of a teaspoon)
Try a small sample (1/4 teaspoon) and work up to larger doses if all is well with the previous sample.
The taste should be clean and tart due to the lactic acid. If it is not, spit it out immediately and rinse with Listerine or some other germ killer, and then drink a glass of water with DE (diamtomaceous earth) or clay in it.

Have a get-out plan for what you would do if you were poisoned in the unlikely event the substance is poisonous after meeting all the above tests.


You should be aware of what food poisoning feels like. Assuming you have only ingested a small amount,  you will feel extremely not-hungry and very tired and sleepy. It is best to have a soft bed to lie down in and not have to have anything to do for the rest of the day and the next. Water or other liquid by the bed may be useful, but you will probably not feel like eating or drinking anything. Have heat sources such as a heating pad or space heater available should you feel cold. There may be episodes of vomiting or diarrhea at first, proceeded by dull stomachaches for the remainder of the poisoning episode. You will mostly want to sleep, and sleep will be easy though you will have strange, drugged dreams and incoherent thoughts. You may feel the pain of hunger after a few hours of not eating, but still have no desire to eat. Disclaimer: This information is given for educational purposes only, and if used or adhered to is done so solely at the reader's own risk.

I don't mean to discourage you if you want to make your own homebrewed EM, but you should be aware that food poisoning is a risk of eating living organisms. You should be prepared to take reasonable steps to reduce that risk, and know what to do if it happens.

If you still want to make EM with primary source material and are willing to take responsibility for the risks involved, go back to "Make A Soil-Based Culture".

Disclaimer: Some of the uses for EM culture may be contrary to rules or guidelines in your governmental jurisdiction. Also, some practices may not be approved by official or orthodox medical practitioners, and some could be dangerous if processed incorrectly. This site is offered for information only and if you choose to use the information here, you do so at your own risk and responsibility.

UPDATE:  I ended up not drinking any of my EM because I was afraid of all the scare-mongering about the germs in the soil. I don't believe the germ theory of disease but I am still a product of my upbringing and culture and I couldn't overcome that uneasiness. Anyway, I moved on. Eventually, I came to look at dirt as a source of minerals. At first, I mixed the dirt with diatomaceous earth to kill the "germs", but I didn't like the look of that (it turned it from a vibrant brown to a dead-looking grey) so I started eating the dirt raw (dried and sieved, but not heated).Dirt is a great source of minerals, humic and fulvic acids, enzymes and soil-based probiotics -- and it occurred to me recently that this is the same dirt that I was so afraid to drink as a beverage a couple years ago. So, I've been thinking of re-opening my experiment with EM and making a batch using some of the dirt I have with my morning coffee to culture a beverage and see how that comes out.
I didn't make any "official" EM in the end because I am happy with all the beverages I currently make and don't need any more. What I did instead, since I always have a jar of raw dirt on the kitchen counter, is add a little dirt to anything I pickle or lacto-ferment, like sauerkraut or cucumber pickles. I have even added dirt to organic pasteurized milk for when I couldn't get raw milk and it clabbered it up very nicely. So I guess those are EM's in their own way.


  Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers by Stephen Harr Buhner
Wild Fermentation by Sandor Katz
Truly Cultured Rejuvenating Taste, Health and Community With Naturally Fermented Foods by Nancy Bentley
Food Enzymes for Health & Longevity by Dr.Edward Howell
Concise Guide to Self-Sufficiency by John Seymour.

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