Switchel was how colonial farmers quenched their thirst out in the hot, sunbaked fields. That’s enough of an endorsement for me!
This drink is also called Haymaker’s Punch (because it was drunk while haying fields) and it’s easy to make with just a few ingredients—including cider vinegar, ginger, and a sweetener.
Switchel is not only hydrating, but also energizing. Think of it as “Nature’s Gatorade.” It will give you that electrolyte boost better than any pricey energy drink or soda. It’s known as a health tonic that boosts the immune system, too (but don’t tell the kids it’s ‘healthy”).
Switchel Recipe from the Almanac Archives
Here’s a classic recipe from the 1930’s which was unearthed from the archives of The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
1 gallon water
1 ½ cups molasses
⅓ cup vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh ginger (ground)
We like molasses, however, you could replace it with maple syrup, honey, or another sweetener. You could cut back the sweetener, too. Find the right balance for you. Remember to start with less—as you can always add more. Switchel shouldn’t coat your mouth; it should taste refreshing. Another idea is to add a teaspoon of fresh lemon or lime juice for zing.
Switchel Drink Recipe from an Almanac Reader
Here’s another switchel recipe from Dennis Miles, an Almanac Facebook fan and full-time blacksmith. He drinks his switchel from a mid-19th century haymaker’s jug.
- 1 gal. water
- 2 cups raw or dark brown sugar
- 1 cup molasses
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon ginger (fresh)
Serve in mason jars.
My friend, Wendy, and I decided to make a pitcher one summer’s day, using our Almanac recipe.
Mmmm! Switchel is so refreshing and delicious! It tastes pleasantly tart and—surprisingly not too sweet.
And, boy, is it drinkable—much more so than plain water. I’ll say that it did quench my thirst for water, but not for switchel. We drank half the pitcher and felt quite, ah, saturated!
You can make the switchel last longer or less sweet by adding more water or a bubbly seltzer. (My guess is it could turn into a cocktail drink, too.)
Drink from a mason jar or jug if you have one!
Find more summertime drink recipes to cool off.