Mar 8, 2011

Garbage enzymes - pseudoscience or the Real Thing?

I have a lot of organic wastes (ie, can't get the boys to eat the skin of the apple!), and have been contemplating making 'garbage enzymes'. Garbage enzymes have been a hot topic in Malaysia for 2 years. Someone gave me a bottle last year. It was orangey brown liquid, smelt faintly of citrus, and cut grease pretty well.

Made with one part brown sugar, three parts organic wastes and 10 parts water, then left to ferment for 3 months, the end result is supposed to be a wonder liquid. The adoption was viral, with someone proclaiming its wonders, and then more people buying in, and proclaiming even more wonders. Someone I know washed her dishes and floors with it. Another person watered her plants. Yet another washed her hair with it and put a dab to clear up pimples! At that rate, it was this close to being the answer to world peace. (actually, close, it was supposed to be an answer to climate change and the hole in the ozone layer!)

But several people have since busted the myth.

When yeast and bacteria work together, carbohydrates(sugars) are converted to alcohol (and carbon dioxide), which is then converted to organic acids given enough oxygen (thus the 'wine turn to vinegar' stories). As the writer above has pointed out, what you get is probably vinegar, whose main compound is a weak acid. The yeast and bacteria are naturally occuring on the fruits and organic wastes.

So are the folk who proclaim 'garbage enzymes's wonders sane, or gripped in mass hysteria? As a weak acid, vinegar cleans (think lemon juice), so that explains the cleaning properties. When I googled acne and vinegar, I was surprised to learn that it actually IS a supposed remedy, as the acid kills bacteria. The vinegar also explains why insects keep away when countertops are wiped with the stuff...would you stick you nose into a bottle of vinegar?

Many folks also swear by it as a fertilizer, and although i doubted this, I did a bit of research and discovered it has some basis. Fermented liquids don't only have acid and water - they have trace minerals and other compounds that come from the materials that made them. That 'garbage enzymes' or GEs contain varied minerals wouldn't be surprising given the often motley bunch of fruit and veges going in!

Ah well, the knowing is in the doing!

PS : Found this while surfing. Garbage enzymes buffs should check it out.

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