"We are just going to add a little sugar to this bug here and the sugar will just react to it and help it to kick into gear," Te Waka Reid said as he fed the starter bug.
It's the beginning of a new starter bug for rēwena parāoa – or traditional maori bread
"It's a traditional bread," partner, Angel Te Pou added. "The bug can last up to a hundred years as long as you keep feeding it."
And it's this new bug which began in Te Pou and Reid's kitchen in Te Anga, west of Waitomo, which will be used to make the bread commercially at Hamilton's newest organic food shop – The Organic Food Shop – or TOFS for short.
Joni Cunningham is the shop's resident baker, tasked with making the rēwena and sourdough. To her, the rēwena starter smells like alcohol.
"Vodka is made from potatoes so it kind of has got that strong smell, but earthy," she said.
Cunningham has been a chef for 24 years, doing all sorts of cooking over that time, but never solely baked bread.
"This is very personal, this is very intimate. I actually quite enjoy to tell people it's handmade because they don't believe you. But you just show them - no machines here."
The bakery is one of several departments at TOFS including a butchery and a dairy that sells milk, cheese and butter - not lollies. And it's all open to the public.
"The customer can walk in here when the beast comes in here and see it being broken down in the shop. We want to be transparent we want to educate our customers," the stores manager, Tori Forshaw said.
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Cunningham's sourdoughs are already being sold but she's still perfecting the rēwena recipe. And there's been a lot of trial and error.
"We made four recipes the other day each with a slightly different adjustment," Forshaw said. "And we were all smiles at the end of the day because we are on the right path,"
Keen customers are already lining up for the rēwena including Viki Hough.
"I'm really excited," she said. "You used to go to Otara Market and get it and that was okay back then but it's all changed a lot now."
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