Tag Archives: Ottawa Food Blog

How to Make Water Kefir – Step by Step Tutorial

Shortly after discovering how much I loved making Kombucha, I also discovered another probiotic home brewed beverage, water kefir. What I loved about the idea of water kefir was that it seemed so much less involved than making kombucha, but still had the carbonation that we love, as well as the great flavour. Some other great things about it: the brew time was shorter, the supplies needed were fewer and less expensive and the cost per batch was significantly less because there is no tea required to make it. I still love kombucha, but these days you’ll find me drinking and making water kefir far more often.

Water Kefir is made using ‘kefir grains’. The word ‘grain’ is actually a bit misleading though because it’s not, nor does it contain any actual grains. Kefir grains are basically gelatinous blobs of beneficial bacterial culture. The fermentation happens when you make a sugar water mixture and place the grains inside of it. Much the same way as a SCOBY survives off of the sugar when making Kombucha, these kefir grains eat the sugar in the sugar water mixture. The leftover liquid is a beverage is filled with all sorts of wonderful probiotics. The taste is slightly yeasty and oh-so-good for your gut.

Here are my step by step instructions to making water kefir. I’ve been making this regularly for nearly a year now with awesome success. If you have anything to add that I may have missed or if you have any questions, please ask in the comments section!

Water Kefir Tutorial Step by Step recipe

Step 1: Acquire Kefir Grains

I acquired my initial batch of water kefir grains for free from a lady who was giving them away on a local buy and sell site. Since these grains do multiply over time, anyone who makes water kefir should have some to share eventually. If you aren’t able to find anyone locally, some can be ordered from here on the Cultures for Health website.

Water Kefir Grains

Step 2: Collect your materials and ingredients

You will need:

– Water kefir grains (approx. 3-4 tbsp worth)

– One large glass Mason jar (I’m using a 1.9L size and it’s perfect)

– 4 or 5 flip-top bottles (I like Grolsch beer bottles – they’ve stood up well to TONS of use)

– A plastic or nylon mesh strainer (grains are not supposed to come into contact with metal)

– A wooden or plastic spoon

– A plastic funnel

– A large plastic or melamine mixing bowl

– 6 cups of water

– 1/4 cup white sugar

– 10-15 raisins, a pitted date or dried fig

– Apple juice or another pure fruit juice of your choice

– 1-2 tbsp lemon juice (optional)

– 1-2 tbsp pure maple syrup (optional)

Step 3: Prepare your mixture

Begin by placing your water kefir grains into the bottom of your clean jar. Place 1 cup of water into a pot and begin bringing to a boil. Just before it reaches a boil, place your 1/4 cup of white sugar in the water, stirring with your wooden spoon to dissolve. Once fully dissolved, turn heat off. Place your remaining 5 cups of room temperature water into your mixing bowl. Slowly stir your hot sugar water mixture into that. Once all is combined, pour the contents of your bowl into the jar containing your grains.

Because kefir grains love minerals, feel free to switch up their food source. I often use raisins simply because they are inexpensive and we always have some. You could, however, also use pitted dates, dried figs, clean egg shell or any combination of these. I also add in a bit of lemon juice and pure maple syrup at this point as well.

Step 4: Let the magic happen!

Screw the cap on your jar lightly and place water kefir in a place where it can remain undisturbed for 48 hours (your kitchen counter is fine). During the 48 hour fermentation time, a few things might happen. You may notice that your liquid becomes a little yellowish in colour and the fruit and/or grains may move around and/or float due to the natural carbonation that’s occurring. It’s all totally normal. Just enjoy the show!

making water kefir

Step 5: Separating your liquid and bottling

Once your 48 hours are up, you are ready to bottle! Place your strainer over your mixing bowl and begin pouring your liquid through it. The strainer should be catching all of the grains as well as your raisins/fruit/egg shell. Using your plastic or wooden spoon, carefully remove your dried fruit/egg shell from the grains and discard. Place grains back into the jar. You can then follow steps 1 through 4 to complete your next batch!

Water Kefir Tutorial

 

Water Kefir grains close up

For bottling, be sure your bottles are clean. I like to give mine a rinse with hot water and vinegar just before using them. Then using your plastic funnel, fill bottles about 1/4 of the way with the fruit juice of your choice. We find apple juice to be the best flavour for this but you could use any. Then using a funnel, fill the remainder of the bottle with your kefir. At this point I always add in 2 or 3 raisins. I once read that this helps to keep your beverage carbonated. I have no idea how true it is but I do it anyway!

water kefir bottles

Seal your bottles and store at room temperature until ready to drink. I recommend not waiting longer then 48 hours though since a) You’ll have a new batch to bottle in another 48 hours and b) The carbonation builds quite quickly and you could end up with a broken bottle and/or an explosion! Speaking of which, to open bottles for drinking I recommend doing so in a sink with a plastic bag over the lid. You’ll thank me for this tip later! 😉

Making Water Kefir easy recipe

probiotic healthy pop recipe

Water Kefir Drink Recipe Ottawa

 

That’s it! That’s how you make this healthy, delicious natural soda! Enjoy! 🙂

 

Maple Wood Smoked Turkey with a Sweet and Savoury Dry Rub

For the past year or so I’ve really wanted a smoker but it’s only recently that we’ve had the space for one. After buying a few turkeys for our freezer during a post-Thanksgiving sale, and now finally having the space, we figured that now is as good a time as any to finally buy one and use it to cook these bad mamma jammas.

The smoker we bought is just your basic, entry-level propane smoker from Lowes. Wood chips of your choice go in one of the bottom compartments and water in the other with lots of racks for smoking several things at once. We paid around $180 for it knowing that our experience may go one of two ways: Either the novelty would wear off quickly or we would absolutely love it and want to SMOKE ALL THE THINGS. So far so good on the loving it part. This may mean an upgrade to something fancier and larger at some point down the road. But for now, we’re loving this one and really enjoying experimenting with various meats, sauces and rubs!

Maple Smoked Turkey and Rub recipe - A Soulful Appetite

For it’s inaugural run we decided to invite some friends over and smoke two of our turkeys. These birds were fairly small – around 9-ish pounds each if I recall – but perfect for 4 adults and two kids with leftovers. They were also the perfect size in that they didn’t take forever to smoke. About 6 hours total with the heat hovering at around 250 degrees fahrenheit. Here’s how we did it in our incredibly amateur smoking experience. I apologize for the lack of photos – especially in the initial stages! With company coming, I didn’t think to take photos until we were ready to smoke! If we decide to do this again soon, and if I remember, I will try to take a few more and add them to this post.

Maple Wood Smoked Turkey

You will need:

– A fresh or thawed Turkey (one, or however many you plan to smoke)

– Mustard. A few tablespoons worth.

– Olive oil. For coating your cooking pan.

– Rub of your choice. (See below for my recipe)

– Water. For inside the smoker. Refer to your smoker’s manual for quantity.

– Wood Chips. We used a sweet maple wood variety. Refer to your smoker’s manual for quantity.

Step One: Preparing the turkey.

Rinse your turkey and remove the neck etc. and place into a well oiled disposable aluminum baking pan. You may choose to stuff your turkey at this point. I have not personally tried smoking turkey with actual bread stuffing so I’m not sure how that might work out. Instead we chose to stuff ours with chunks of MacInosh apples and sweet onion. This turned out to be an excellent idea that not only added some subtle flavour but really helped to keep things moist throughout the long, slow cooking process. You may also choose to tie up your turkey with kitchen twine at this point, just to keep the limbs together and everything securely inside. Once in the pan and stuffed, give your turkey a generous rub down with ordinary yellow mustard, followed by a generous sprinkle of the rub of your choice (keep reading for my rub recipe!). Mustard not only adds flavour but also acts as a glue for keeping your rub on.

Step Two: Smoking your turkey.

If you have completed all of the above, you are ready to put your turkey into the smoker! It’s really a pretty simply process from here on out. Simply adjust your racks to accommodate the size of the bird, place it in and close the door. Be sure you’ve added the recommended amount of wood chips and water as per your smoker’s instructions. Then fire it up!

Once things have heated up, simply let it smoke. For us, low and slow was the goal and since this smoker isn’t insulated, we really didn’t have much choice in that regard. It didn’t take long, however, for the temperature to start hovering around 250 degrees fahrenheit and as long as we kept feeding it chips and water, it remained fairly steady.

Maple Smoked Turkey Recipe

At around the half way point our curiosity got the better of us so we opened it up to have a look and OMG LOOK AT THIS JUICY DELICIOUSNESS! At this point we also decided to start monitoring the temperature using a meat thermometer to see where we were at.

Maple Smoked Turkey :: A Soulful Appetite

 

By about the six hour point, our turkeys were done! Trust me when I say that these were gobbled up in no time flat. Both our family and our dinner guests agree that it was the most delicious, flavourful turkey any of us have ever had. The skin was perfectly crispy on the outside and the inside was incredibly juicy, tender with the most amazing smoky flavour. Absolute perfection. After trying this I can safely say that this is how we’ll be cooking turkey from now on. No more oven-cooked birds on Thanksgiving for us!

Maple Smoked Turkey with a Sweet and Savoury Rub :: A Soulful Appetite

Tip: Do not…I repeat, DO NOT, throw away your smoked turkey carcass when you are finished. This stuff makes the most incredible smoky broth you have ever had IN YOUR LIFE. Boil it up and freeze it in small quantities to drink when you are feeling under the weather or make a soup with it. That’s what we did. Add in a few spices, your choice of veggies, left over turkey meat and a couple of handfuls of quinoa and you will have a life-changing turkey soup. Trust me on this.

 

Sweet and Savoury Rub

This is my basic rub recipe. I have used this rub on pork ribs, chicken and turkey with excellent results. You may wish to double or triple this recipe and store it in an air-tight container as it’s a nice, basic rub to have on hand. Feel free to also adjust the spice quantities to your taste!

– 1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

– 1/4 cup garlic salt or finely gound sea salt

– 3 tbsp smoked paprika

– 1 tbsp onion powder

– 1 tsp ground black pepper

– 1 tsp cumin

– 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

– Any dried herbs you wish (ie. rosemary, thyme)

Mix all ingredients well and enjoy on your favourite barbecued or smoked pork or poultry!

Sweet and Savoury Rub recipe :: A Soulful Appetite

Honey and Ginger Glazed Mahi Mahi & Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

Ahh summer. My family’s favorite season. It’s also the season of trying to balance a zillion things at a time while still trying to find delicious, nutritious meals for the family. On a recent shopping trip to Costco I noticed that they were selling wild-caught Mahi Mahi. Having never tried this type of fish before, I thought what the hell. My Mom lived in Bermuda for several years and more than once I heard her talk about my Step-Dad fishing for Mahi Mahi and that they really loved it. Not knowing how to cook it though I turned to the web and found this recipe for Ginger Glazed Mahi Mahi on All Recipes. My version here is slightly modified from the original to suit our tastes and because I wanted more glaze than the recipe called for. This is one recipe that I can see us making over and over again. Slightly sweet, slightly sour and it gives this otherwise mild but meaty fish some zing!

Accompanying the Mahi Mahi is something I’ve been dying to try for a while now after having seen a zillion recipes for it on Pinterest. Bacon Wrapped Asparagus. I mean let’s be honest, bacon wrapped ANYTHING is good, but it’s especially excellent with Asparagus I find. The presentation of this is sheer brilliance as well. It’s one of those things that looks like you spent hours planning and preparing but in reality it’s dead easy!

Bacon Wrapped Asparagus recipe

Asparagus and fish

Honey and Ginger Glazed Mahi Mahi

– 4 tbsp honey
– 4 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
– 5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
– 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
– 2 cloves minced garlic
– 3 tbsp Olive Oil
– 4 Mahi Mahi fillets

1) Preheat oven to 400.

2) In a small bowl, whisk together honey, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, ginger, garlic and olive oil. Take approximately 1/4 of this glaze and marinade Mahi Mahi fillets for about 20-30 minutes. Set remaining glaze mixture aside.

3) Coat or spray the inside of a cast iron skillet with olive oil and place marinated fillets into skillet with the liquids it had been marinating in. Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes or until fish appears white and flaky.

4) Pour reserved glaze into a small pot and simmer on low for approximately 5 minutes. Pour desired amount over the fish and enjoy!

This fish tastes delicious over quinoa, but I’m sure rice would work well too. The best part is that it absorbs up all of the excess marinate 🙂

Honey and Ginger Mahi Mahi Recipe
Bacon Wrapped Asparagus

– 1 bunch Asparagus (the thinner the stalks, the better and more tender they will be)
– 7 or 8 bacon strips
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 3 tbsp pure maple syrup
– 1 clove minced garlic

1) Preheat oven for 400.

2) Wash and trim approximately 30 spears of Asparagus. Group together in bunches of 4 or 5 spears. Wrap each bunch tightly with one strip of bacon. Place on a baking sheet with the ends of the bacon strips down.

3) In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, maple syrup and olive oil. Using a pastry brush, brush liquid mixture over the bacon wrapped Asparagus.

4) Bake at 400 for approximately 30 minutes or until bacon is cooked. Enjoy!

delicious Mahi Mahi recipe

Do you have any fish recipes that are your favorite? Or a different way of cooking Mahi Mahi?