If you need a refreshing drink on a hot day—or something different for a summer party, you have to try switchel!
I just rediscovered this age-old drink and had to share my find! Switchel was how hardworking farmers in colonial days quenched their thirst out in the hot, sunbaked fields. That's enough of an endorsement for me.
Switchel, also called Haymaker's Punch, is made with just four ingredients. Here's the classic recipe:
Mix 1 quart water, 1/2 cup molasses, 1 teaspoon powdered ginger, and the juice of 1 lemon. Serve ice-cold.
However, I have a confession. I didn't make it! I found the recipe in the Almanac archives and posted it on Facebook for my friends. Lo and behold, a neighbor actually made it and invited me over. Now, that's a great ice-breaker.
Switchel is so refreshing 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!
Update: Dennis Miles, a full-time blacksmith and OFA Facebook fan, informed me that cider vinegar is a key ingredient. Here is his recipe—which he drinks from a mid-19th century haymmaker's jug!
- 1 gal. water
- 2 cups raw or dark brown sugar
- 1 cup molasses
- 1 cup cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon ginger
Thank you, Dennis!
Catherine, our New Media Editor, joined The Old Farmer's Almanac in 2008. She edits content on both this Web site, Almanac.com, and the companion site to The Old Farmer's Almanac for Kids publication, Almanac4kids.com. She also manages social media content for Facebook and Twitter. When she's not online, she's with her husband and child enjoying the outdoors life in New Hampshire.