One of the most refreshing and natural electrolyte drinks, the ginger switchel, also known as Haymaker’s punch, is regaining popularity partly because of its health benefits, and partly just because it is delicious and perfectly hydrating.
In the last few weeks of summer, I discovered a refreshing drink that I wish I had discovered earlier, the switchel. I have to admit, I’d never heard of it before, and I came across it by accident one day when looking for something to settle my stomach.
I had been drinking some ginger tea, but it was so hot out that I wanted something more refreshing. My idea was to make a type of ginger lemonade of sorts, or to infuse ginger into kombucha, and out of curiosity decided to do a search online to find if others were already making something similar. (That’s a crazy blogger habit that comes from wanting to see how original I really am/am not.)
Throughout my searches, one name kept coming up: the switchel!
My curiosity was piqued, and at first I kept finding articles on a company that was marketing their version of the drink for sale. Their switchel bottles looked very cool, but not only would it be impossible for me to buy here in Spain, but at 6 dollars per 2 cup bottle, drinking the ready-made switchel for refreshment on a hot summer day isn’t exactly attainable by all.
Despite being hip and trendy, the switchel isn’t only for the elite; anybody can make their own ginger switchel at home. It’s simple, refreshing, and arguably has health benefits, as long as you don’t go overboard on the amount of sweetener you use. Traditionally it is made with either molasses, honey, and/or or maple syrup, though, so even at its worst, it isn’t all that bad, especially if you compare it with commercial soda/pop. As far as homemade natural electrolyte drinks goes, the switchel is about as good as it gets.
What is the switchel?
It’s an old fashioned American drink made with apple cider vinegar, ginger, and molasses, honey, or maple syrup which was originally made to help refresh farmers and others working outside in the sun all day. That’s why it is also sometimes referred to as Haymakers punch; it was given to hydrate those who had been working the hay in the heat of the summer. Think of it as a traditional, healthier, natural electrolyte drink that people made at home before all of the sugar and artificially colored versions hit the stores.
With more people going back to a more traditional lifestyle, the switchel is beginning to make a comeback, but there are still many people who have never heard of it. When I was thinking of making myself a ginger lemonade of sorts, I thought I was being creative and didn’t realize that I was basically about to make myself a version of once popular beverage, the ginger switchel.
Once I saw that the original version was made with apple cider vinegar, though, I had to give that a try instead.
You see, I had been making fresh mozzarella cheese (which turned out quite well, if I do say so myself, and I will definitely share the recipe with you soon). The problem is I made the mistake of drinking myself a glass of cow milk, something I haven’t done in ages because I never have it around. You can probably guess where this story is going….
About an hour later I found myself curled up on my bed with serious tummy pains, and I was searching for home remedies for symptoms of lactose intolerance.
Two remedies kept coming up: ginger and raw apple cider vinegar. Both aid in digestion, and ginger is prebiotic and anti-inflammatory while raw vinegar is probiotic.
I normally hate apple cider vinegar, but the combination of ingredients in the ginger switchel sounded interesting. After reading about its newfound popularity, I figured that day was the ideal day to give it a try. It was exactly what I was looking for to help settle my stomach.
That day I wanted instant gratification, so I wasn’t able to let that first small batch sit and have the flavors come together. Still, the results surprised me, and I actually really liked it!
As for my upset stomach? Well, I did feel a little bit better after drinking some, but I still spent the rest of the day regretting my decision to drink that glass of milk. 😉
Since then I have tried perfecting the recipe a bit to make a switchel recipe that best serves my taste. I love adding molasses, for example, because it adds minerals and gives a distinct flavor, but too much of it can be very overpowering rather than light and refreshing.
So, in my ginger switchel recipe, I ended up balancing out the strong taste of the molasses with the milder, sweeter flavor of maple syrup, and I have used less sweetener than most of the recipes I’ve seen online. If you don’t find my recipe sweet enough to suit your taste, feel free to add more maple syrup or molasses, but keep in mind that too much sugar, even in natural forms like maple syrup, isn’t beneficial for your health.
Overall I have been enjoying it as a fun alternative to just drinking water when I’ve been outside in the heat for a while.
So are you ready to give the switchel a try?
A Natural Electrolyte Drink Recipe: The Ginger Switchel
Peel and cut about an inch of ginger root into tiny pieces. (You should end up with about 2 Tablespoons of minced ginger)
Add your ginger, vinegar and sweeteners to the bottom of a 1 quart pitcher, and muddle it or press against the ginger with a wooden spoon to help release the flavor.
Fill the rest of the pitcher with water (around 4 cups of water), and put the pitcher in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight to help distribute the flavors.
Adjust the flavors to suit your taste, if needed.
Strain and serve cold. You can aso mix it with soda water if you like.
This post is also available in Español.