Updated on July 10, 2018
Have you ever heard of switchel? Otherwise known as haymaker’s punch, it is a drink that has been around for centuries! It originated in the Caribbean and became popular with the American Colonies. I first learned of it from (re)reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books:
Ma sent them ginger-water. She has sweetened the cool well-water with sugar, flavored it with vinegar, and put in plenty of ginger to warm their stomachs til they were not thirsty. Ginger-water would not make them sick, as plain cold water would when they were so hot.
This recipe is a natural and healthy Gatorade that isn’t full of chemicals and awful sugars. The only sugars you will get is from the sweetener you use. This drink is full of natural electrolytes! This s the perfect time to learn about this drink as it’s in the middle of summer and it’s been a HOT one! Even here in the mid-Atlantic, we have reached temperatures hovering around 100℉! We were miserable and I was just sick of sweating. My family and I were bred for the cold weather—we are much happier when it’s snowing out! (Though I get so revived by all the green outside in the spring and summer. That’s my jam.). This summer’s heat is for the birds.
Switchel is easy to make: it is simply made with apple cider vinegar, ginger, a natural sweetener like honey, maple syrup, or molasses. You can also add a fruit of your choice (like strawberries or lemon) for extra flavor. It’s like the kumbucha’s cousin! Switchel doesn’t need a scoby, though, and doesn’t have a long fermentation period. All you have to do with switches is make it and let it sit for a few hours before drinking!
Here are the health benefits of the drink:
- Apple cider vinegar: If you use ACV with the “mother in it, it is a great natural source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, as well as beneficial acids and bacteria. Regular ACV doesn’t have these benefits.
- Molasses: If you use molasses, the sugar is great for giving your body quick energy. Blackstrap molasses contains vital vitamins and minerals, such as iron, calcium magnesium, vitamin B6, and selenium.
- Honey: If you use raw honey, it is a wonderful source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes that make it an antiviral, antibacterial, and antioxidant powerhouse. It’s good for digestive health.
- Maple Syrup: If you use maple syrup, It helps your heart and helps your immune system. It has antioxidants and minerals, like zinc and manganese.
- Ginger: This is a great natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. It’s known to reduce inflammation in the body, thus helping the muscles recover quicker.
To make switchel, all you need is an inch of ginger, sliced thinly, 1/2 cup of natural sweetener (like molasses—my favorite, raw honey, or natural maple syrup), 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar, and 6-8 cups of water. You can also add a fruit of your choice, like lemon, lime, strawberry, or blueberry. Combine all the ingredients and chill. You can drink it right away, but it’s best if you let the ingredients marry overnight.
Instead of reaching for that over processed bottle of Gatorade when you need something to drink after a hard workout, why don’t you whip up a pitcher of switchel? It’ll do your body good!