Here is what you need to know about switchel and why it may be the next poolside lemonade. Plus, enjoy a switchel recipe you can make with just a handful of ingredients.
Originally from the Carribean, switchel made its way to the American colonies in the late 17th century, becoming a popular summer drink. It was commonly served to farmers during hay harvest time, which is why it is also dubbed the “haymaker’s punch”. The old-fashioned refresher is now making a 21st century comeback.
Switchel was viewed as a healthy thirst-quenching drink back during the colonial era, when sports drinks weren’t around to replenish electrolytes in the body. Instead, farmers turned to switchel. a vinegar-based drink with ginger, sweetener and water. The sweetener was often molasses or brown sugar. The drink itself is reminiscent of oxymel, the medicinal concoction of vinegar, honey and water that dates back to Hippocrates.
The vinegar lent a tanginess to the drink, especially when citrus fruits were not readily available to the American farmer. The ginger was often added in ground form, as it was only accessible in dried form to colonial brewers.
Today, switchel is making its way into the modern lifestyle not only as a thirst-quencher but also as a health food. Ginger is a panacea of sorts, boasting anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, anti-carcinogenic and cardiovascular benefits. Vinegar, especially apple cider vinegar, also does the body good by contributing to weight loss and acting as a natural antibiotic.
Commercial retailers of switchel include Up Mountain Switchel and Vermont Switchel Company. But you don’t have to order from elsewhere to enjoy the taste and benefits of switchel. You can make your own in the comfort of your home. The following switchel recipe uses low-glycemic maple syrup in place of regular brown or white sugar. All it takes are a few ingredients to revisit the 18th century. Enjoy!
Homemade Switchel Recipe
Place the ingredients into a glass jar. Cover and refrigerate for at least two hours or up to 24 hours. Mix thoroughly and strain through a fine sieve to filter out the fresh ginger. Adjust the sweetness to your liking, give it another shake and then serve over ice or with soda water for some fizz.
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Photo Credit: Ginger Drink from Shutterstock