Bug issues [Rewena Post 3]

Regarding my Rewena progress since this first(gathering) and second (starting) post about it… well, it has had its ups and downs.  I have not had much success with achieving a long duration of fermentation.  Instead my bug goes through fits of fermentation before resulting in a flat concoction separated out into solids and liquids.  Nigel from CuriousKai sent me a helpful list of suggestions – so those of you who are Rewena followers can follow through our conversation to see what has been tried and tested so far.  My aim is to have the bug ferment for at least three days to try to get a good flavour.  Most of my bugs are pretty still on Day 1, then they ferment sometime on Day 2 after being fed with more potato water and a teaspoon of sugar.  But regardless of feeding by Day 3 it goes flat and separated.  I’m now onto Bug #6, trying now with potatoes supplied by Mum.  I’ll keep you posted on progress.  And I welcome more helpful hints too!  The images below don’t really relate to the comments, they are just there to show my bug issues.


here are my notes of what I have tried under your notes…

On 22 June 2010 20:21, Nigel wrote:

Right, here goes:

1. You could cheat and simply make your bread after the bug’s risen. The only downside is the fact that it probably won’t have a lot of flavour.

Yes my mum suggested this, but according to other people and you, it tastes better if left longer… so ill persevere for now…

2. This is a stab in the dark and I’m probably wrong, but I wonder if it’s a stability issue? In your recipe, you use the stabmixer to mash the spuds. The blade is cutting the potato’s gluten strands to shreds, rather than being stretched as is the case when using a masher. This may affect its ability to maintain the structure created by the CO2 released by the bacteria. Maybe try using a potato masher? Once made, the bug should resemble batter rather than glue.

I stopped using the stab after the first one failed, so bugs 2-5 are all mashed only.

3. What’s the temperature of the homebrew plate? The ideal range is within 21 to 24 degrees celsius for yeast, so the temperature for the leavening can’t be too far off that, certainly no more than that.

Not sure, i need to measure this.  I estimated it was too hot so i moved it to the side.  This set off the fermentation bubbles on day 2. so i think it is close to right, but maybe not warm enough to sustain it?

4. What’s the temperature of the potato water after it’s been nuked? It should be equal to/slightly less than the temperature of the bug (I know, I know, you already know this – just covering all angles).

Again on bugs 4 & 5 I stopped microwaving altogether, i figured atomically (?) something might be happening, so i heat it stovetop to just warm, dissolve in the sugar, cool til lukewarm and then pour in.  I have been stirring it in, should I be?

5. How old is the flour you’re adding to the bug’s feed? Supermarket flour can be quite old (months) – I’m not saying you should track down some freshly milled stuff, but maybe yours is past it?

hmmm. not sure, i buy it from Moore Wilson, which is where all the bakers buy it from so i figure it is a fairly constant supply. and i never have it long in my house because i make bread everyday (=3 cups flour everyday).  But I have seen some specialty flours there I will have a look.

6. Try dropping the flour from your mix when feeding the bug – no disrespect to your family recipe, but I can’t understand what role it plays in feeding the bug. It makes perfect sense when using yeast because it provides yeast bacteria with sugar (in the form of starch), as well as aiding in the development of structure. With leavening agents though, their demands are far less exacting, simply requiring sugar to get to work (the potato water simply adds flavour & if the sugar’s been dissolved in it, just makes it more easily metabolised by the bacteria).

Again I stopped that by bug 3.

7. Hunt down someone with an existing bug and raise it in the exact same conditions you provided for your bug, If it’s big enough, split it & feed one with your feed mix & the other with just sugar/spud water. If they die, you can at least rule out certain factors. If you have no luck finding a bug, I can ask one of my aunties – three of them have bugs going all year round.

I’ll go to the markets on Sunday and ask the rewena lady there.

Hope these are of use, Lou. I’ve no doubt you’ve already considered some of these ideas, so apologies in advance for pointing out the blindingly obvious.

Finger’s crossed,

Visit Curious Kai, the curious New Zealand food blog! http://curiouskai.blogspot.com

Thanks again Nigel, so basically (i should have mentioned this) i have ditched every aspect of the other recipes and are back at your one, but the last two made curiouskai style have also flopped on day 3 😦  …..

…. one last thing I have up my sleeve (haha) .  my mum was pretty suspect about my potato varieties, insisting I use only “normal” (i.e pack’n’save) potatoes.  I told her I was, but she didn’t trust me and gave me a bag of her “normal” potatoes yesterday to try – so OF COURSE if this works I’ll never hear the end of it about “normal” potatoes!


Post 1 – Gathering

Post 2 – Starting the bug

Post 3 – Bug Issues – Troubleshooting

Post 4 – Cooking it (in oven)

Post 5 – Cooking it (in Breadmaker)


3 thoughts on “Bug issues [Rewena Post 3]

  1. My hub loves maori bread so I’ve been on a little mission to make some and have read almost every page I can find on the subject– so I’m just a few days behind you with this project. I decided to just start my bug with potato only.
    One lucky thing for me: I’m in a pretty warm humid place so I don’t think I’ll need something to keep it warm. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    • Kiaora! thanks for letting me know and yes please keep me updated. My bug #6 was not kept warm enough, my little heater was accidentally turned off so i have to start again today! I’ll keep trying…

  2. Pingback: Rewena /Maori Bread [Post 1 - Gathering] « Domestic Scene

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