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Switchel: a natural version of a sports drink

 
steward
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Elaine Sheff of Green Path Herb School has a medicinal switchel she wrote about here:



http://greenpathherbschool.com/herbal-switchels/

I'm thinking about trying a modified/quickie version of this for a workshop dinner tonight!

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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At the Rocket Oven Pizza Party, folks asked for the Switchel recipe. While I recommend reading through the links and the comments in the first page (this is page two of the thread) for more tips and info, here is the simple way I made the Switchel that was served.

First, I use these handy, glass two-quart pitchers (whose square shapes are very friendly in a crowded refrigerator) Amazon link to Bistro Glass Pitcher.

So, in the 2-quart pitcher, add:
  • one cup organic maple syrup (we get ours at Costco)
  • one cup organic apple cider vinegar
  • one healthy splash organic ginger juice - any were from a teaspoon or a tablespoon or so, or to taste (Amazon link)
  • fill rest of pitcher with water

  • That's it!

    I some times prefer honey instead of maple syrup, but then the Switchel would not be vegan friendly, and some times the honey is a bit more work to dissolve in the water, especially if the water is nice and cold. For a crowd, maple syrup is quicker!
     
    gardener
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    i find it so awesome that so many regions have their own version of this same drink. I drank this in Japan when I was young (ACV, honey, lemonade) and mixed up a recipe of it recently and had one of those blast-from-the-past moments.

    Our local version would use sugarcane juice, which is full of minerals (it`s hard to store, so the local whole molasses may be a good substitute. It`s only boiled, no other refining). I made some strawberry vinegar last year and this seems like the perfect way to use it.

    the honey thing is interesting- I brew beer and generally use dextrose or table sugar as the primer (to get the beer to carbonate in secondary fermentation). Honey is hard for me to get so I generally don`t use it and prefer molasses, but a few years ago I had a special beer I was making and I used an unusual local honey as the primer (bracatinga honey, the bees harvest secretions from honeydew kind of insects, it is rare and very special, with an interesting flavor https://www.fondazioneslowfood.com/en/ark-of-taste-slow-food/bracatinga-honeydew-honey/ ). The beer carbonated just fine but to a lesser extent, but at a low concentration (don`t remember the numbers but it would have been no more than 3% by volume, i assume). I rememeber thinking afterward that honey might not have been the smartest idea for a fermentation!
     
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    Recently watched a Townsends video on making 18th century Switchel. He gives a recipe and alternatives along with some history. The Romans made it with honey, and apparently during the 1700's rum was a possible ingredient.

     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Lucretia, I loved hearing the history and all the different names for Switchel - thank you for posting that video!

    I think the version I make has a higher proportion of vinegar to the sweetener and the water. Once, I tried to sub blackstrap molasses for the full amount of maple syrup or honey in my version and it was horrible! I use molasses so rarely, I didn't even think of the lighter versions, as he talks about in the video. Even with a lighter molasses, I think the lower ratio of molasses to water would still be required.

    Interesting that powdered ginger was so common back then. I haven't tried Switchel with powdered ginger - only fresh minced or the bottled ginger juice.

     
    pollinator
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      A good thing to add for electrolytes besides sea or pink Himalayan salt is a teaspoon or two of cream of tartar and a small pinch of Epson salt for your potassium and magnesium. I like to add some real lemon juice  too along with the ginger. I prefer the Pink Himalayan salt and use it in all my cooking to, In fact we are cooken up some Himalayan possum. We don't call it Himalayan possum because of the salt , its because I found him-a-layen on the road about a mile back.
     Seriously though, this kind of drink is 100 times better than sodas and fruit cocktails and such. I made something a long time ago that was called blackberry branch. It was blackberries and ACV and way to much sugar but it was very tasty, I made it really strong so when I went trekking I would pour a little in my cup and fill the rest with water.
     
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    My greatgrandparents talked about switchel. A few years ago I found an old recipe and made a few batches. I used black strap molasses. Last year I used a few fresh blackberries & mint leaves as a garnish. Grandma & grandpa knew what was good.
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Posca, the Roman precursor to Switchel? Cool article on a red wine vinegar and water drink from Roman times.

    My Favorite Beverage Is a 2,000-Year-Old Energy Drink From Ancient Rome


    There are simple recipes near the end of the article with red wine, honey, herbs or spices (and water of course).

     
    pollinator
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    Towsend sells a switchel concentrate https://www.townsends.us/collections/coffee-tea-spices-miscellaneous/products/switchel-concentrate-sw958-p-1558

     
    pollinator
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    I remember Grandmother saying that when Grandfather made cane syrup it would be 3 days and 3 nights of slow simmering over the fire.  There was a long shallow  metal container with low fire built under it,  shaped like a big “U”, with a roof over it.  His friends would all come over and bring moonshine, of course.  Grandfather had to be careful and not drink too much, else everyone would fall asleep and the valuable syrup burn and be worthless.   Always had to be a designated syrup watcher/stirrer.  He had quite the reputation as the  best syrup maker  in the county.  

    Once, after Grandmother had taken the Switchel out to the men, she and my Mother, still a young child at the time, went berry picking.  Grandmother unknowingly stepped into a rattlesnake nest and as they started their ominous whirring to warn before striking, she paused with one foot in the air.  Mother had to run back a long ways to get the men to come and rescue her.   She had to maintain that raised foot position until then, or else get bitten multiple times.   Grandfather always tanned the hides and sold them.  Helped buy the staples they needed, namely salt and tea.  Successful rescue.  
     
    pollinator
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    This thread is fabulous!! Going to try some of these for sure. I've been randomly super low energy my whole life (I think it may be food sensitivities) and the last two weeks I drank switchel every day. What a difference! It certainly upps my water intake which is helping at least. I feel like I can go go go! Now, I did make it for two days using just lemon juice+water+ginger and it definitely did not have the same effect. Going to try it again properly!
     
    master steward
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    Thank you, Almond, for the recommendation.

    I was going to make tea today though I never got past getting out a container to put it in.

    Dear hubby's chiropractor recommends drinking water with apple cider vinegar first thing every morning.

    I have everything to make switched using honey except the fresh ginger.

    Do you feel that powdered ginger would work?
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Anne Miller wrote:
    Do you feel that powdered ginger would work?


    Powdered ginger does work, though I found it was a bit difficult to incorporate without lumps. Doable though.

    My favorite is the bottled ginger juice. SO easy!
     
    Anne Miller
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    Thank you, Jocelyn

    How long will ginger juice keep in the fridge without going bad?

    I hate to buy a that will go bad before I use it.
     
    Tereza Okava
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    Anne Miller wrote:
    How long will ginger juice keep in the fridge without going bad?
    I hate to buy a that will go bad before I use it.


    I've never seen ginger juice for sale, but I juice ginger scraps and freeze them in ice cube trays, the quantity is just about perfect for what i use it for.
     
    Anne Miller
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    Tereza, I followed Jocelyn's Amazon link above for Organic Ginger juice.  3 5oz bottles though if I don't buy organic there are alternatives in bigger bottle, 32 oz.

    I doubt that my country grocery sells fresh ginger.
     
    Jocelyn Campbell
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    Anne Miller wrote:Thank you, Jocelyn

    How long will ginger juice keep in the fridge without going bad?

    I hate to buy a that will go bad before I use it.


    It keeps a remarkably long time, but it's certainly personal preference on what feels safe to you.
    I know I have thrown some out before, just to be safe. But even then, it didn't smell bad and didn't have any signs of mold or anything.
     
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    Here’s an idea, if you want to buy a “big” bottle of ginger juice, but aren’t sure it would keep long enough to use it all, …. and if you have a freezer….

    When you first open the bottle, freeze most of it in ice cube trays.  Then put the frozen cubes in a jar in the freezer.  Or freeze in smaller bottles or jars, then when you run out of your liquid stuff, get out another jar to thaw, so you can easily measure, or what ever you like to do.
     
    Anne Miller
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    Thank you, Thekla

    That is a great idea.

    I remembered that I had bought Organic Ginger Tea. So for now, I will make herbal tea to use for the water.
     
    Thekla McDaniels
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    Oooh that’s a great idea, and not limited to using ginger tea!

    Alfalfa or nettle tea might make a delicious drink!
     
    pioneer
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    Well, we are harvesting our hay field right now and I wanted to say, thanks for this recipe! I made some switchel from the basic recipe in the original post with a tiny bit of sea salt added, and it was really nice.  This drink was wonderfully refreshing during the hot work and much appreciated by every one present. Making this "haymaker's punch" is definitely a new tradition I will be continuing each summer!
     
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    I have been making switchel for years, my version is:
    1 gallon water
    1/2 cup ACV
    1 cup honey (or half and half with maple syrup)
    2 tablespoons ground dry ginger
    Some crushed fresh ginger
    Mix the crap out of it and keep it in a river to stay cool (or a fridge)
    I’m a carpenter and this stuff is awesome for hard work, especially since the ginger is anti inflammatory.
     
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