Beverage Idea: Switchel


Ingredients for Switchel; Source: The American Table 

I had been drinking this beverage for about a year before I learned the name for it. Switchel is a vinegar based beverage that is thought to have originated in the West Indies. When I worked on the farm, I drank this a few times a day during the summer. It is a refreshing, non-alcoholic, beverage for work hours. Although alcohol is a perfectly acceptable daytime beverage when you are a farmer 🙂

The reason I decided to share this “recipe” was because I have been drinking a lot of it this summer and realized that not many people are aware of this beverage. It is the best thirst quencher I have come across and many would call it a health tonic as well.

This drink is not for everyone. I have been drinking apple cider vinegar for about five years so, for me, this is just a more appealing way to consume it. There is no consensus on whether apple cider vinegar is good for you so I am just going to leave it at that. What they do agree is that ginger is really good for you; especially for immunity. Here is what you need:

Ingredients: Apple Cider Vinegar, Ginger, Sweetener, Lemon Juice (optional)

It’s not that complicated to make switchel. You mix the three ingredients and dilute it with water. Add ice if you like or just use cold water. Seltzer water makes it even better. Personally, I like to add qual parts of vinegar and lemon juice. It might sound counter-intuitive to add more acid but it really does make the drink more enjoyable.

You can use fresh ginger root or powdered dry ginger. The traditional sweetener of choice was molasses but that is not for everyone. Honey is a popular alternative but the trendy “hipster” versions are made with maple syrup. Use whatever appeals to you. I have even heard of people using it as a mixer for alcoholic beverages but I have not tried that.

It sort of bothers me when I see people pay good money for something that can be made at home, so easily, for so much less. Half a  quart of this stuff sells for around $8. I did the calculations and it costs me less than 25 cents to make the same quantity, even if I used maple syrup. You can make a bigger batch of this and keep it in the fridge much like iced tea.

As I said this is not for everyone. It is an acquired taste that has really grown on me. If you are not in the habit of drinking apple cider vinegar and would like to try it, this is a nice introduction. If you are just an adventurous person and want to add a new drink to you list of summer beverages, this is an interesting choice. I would encourage you to try it even just to know what the hype is all about.