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Switchel: a natural version of a sports drink  RSS feed

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Sarah Pope published an awesome blog post, Switchel (Haymaker's Punch):  Nature's Healthy Gatorade, about a sweetened apple cider vinegar (ACV) drink that you can ferment or simply drink immediately.



I ran across this recipe the same day that Jacob Wustner, of Sapphire Apiaries, delivered some honey to us that he'd extruded from our hive on the lab (see more about our bees in the ultimate skiddable bee hut thread (click page two for current photos).



Seven. luscious. jars. (Only six in this picture because the seventh was being sampled at the Permaculture Tasting workshop.) Raw honey.

So I mixed up some honey-ACV-very-light-ginger Switchel this afternoon and served it up (without doing any fermenting) to six permies here at base camp. They all truly enjoyed it. 5 of the 6 asked for the recipe. The sixth one didn't because it was Paul and he knows I can make it again.

I left some in a bottle on the counter to let it get bubbly. I'll let you know how that works out. I'm considering experimenting with sweetening in part with stevia to reduce the sugar content a bit.

I'd love to hear how others like their Switchel.

 
John Polk
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Sounds yummy.

(Not so sure that I would call it a 'sports drink' though.  Most sports drinks have electrolytes to replace those lost through perspiring.)
 
Dillon Nichols
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John Polk wrote:Sounds yummy.

(Not so sure that I would call it a 'sports drink' though.  Most sports drinks have electrolytes to replace those lost through perspiring.)


I wonder if there's a permie-ish way to add in the electrolytes?

I've been drinking a lot of kombucha(sweetened with honey and berries) this summer in lieu of sports drinks/juice. My low-tech/lazy approach to try and cover electrolytes when I'm sweating my ass off has been to eat something salty and a banana, to cover the sodium/chloride and potassium, since I know those are high on the list of things lost in sweat... probably not a very complete solution though.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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From searching for an ACV nutrition label, I found this one for Bragg, http://bragg.com/products/bragg-organic-apple-cider-vinegar.html, which shows 11 mg potassium per tablespoon of vinegar. At higher doses, there are small amounts of magnesium, too.

I think honey, molasses or maple sugar all contain some minerals which could be considered within the electrolyte category.

Ginger provides calcium, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium and even a trace of sodium.

 
John Polk
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:From searching for an ACV nutrition label, I found this one for Bragg, http://bragg.com/products/bragg-organic-apple-cider-vinegar.html, which shows 11 mg potassium per tablespoon of vinegar. At higher doses, there are small amounts of magnesium, too.

I think honey, molasses or maple sugar all contain some minerals which could be considered within the electrolyte category.

Ginger provides calcium, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium and even a trace of sodium.


Great.  So, I guess that it would help replace the lost minerals.
 
R Scott
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Add a pinch of good sea salt and you have a full on electrolyte drink.

I also make a faux jito version with mint tea and molasses.
 
K Putnam
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Oh, I had no idea this was so easy to make.  I've been buying bottles of it during my work breaks, especially when I work evenings.  It gives me a little boost without an evening caffeine buzz from kombucha.  My favorite has been blueberry maple version, which is probably just a bit of blueberry juice added and maple syrup instead of honey.  

Given that it is actually ridiculously to make, I'm going to just start making a jug of it!  
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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K Putnam wrote:Oh, I had no idea this was so easy to make.  I've been buying bottles of it during my work breaks, especially when I work evenings.  It gives me a little boost without an evening caffeine buzz from kombucha.  My favorite has been blueberry maple version, which is probably just a bit of blueberry juice added and maple syrup instead of honey.  

Given that it is actually ridiculously to make, I'm going to just start making a jug of it!  


Right?! The only downside I'm seeing is that I will be consuming and buying more ACV now! Heh.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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yeah, but you could get to the point of making your own vinegar.  Honey (diluted with water and allowed to ferment before adding the mother ) makes nice vinegar.  People bring wine when they come to visit, if the whole bottle does not get drunk with dinner - and I guess the people don't either - then I pour the rest into the wine vinegar jar which is  covered with a milk filter.  Air is important when making vinegar.  I just got tired of feeling like I "had" to finish all that wine.

last year I made vinegar from the nectarines and peaches. 

ACV has some nice minerals and such in it, but all those other vinegars do too.

This looks good.  I htink I'll try it. 
 
William Bronson
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What is being added tithe swichel if you let it sit?
Are microbes making alcohol,lactic acid,more vinegar or what?
I would guess more vinigar, but what's the point in that?
Maybe it's just to wake up the wee  animule,getting them going....
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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William Bronson wrote: What is being added tithe swichel if you let it sit?
Are microbes making alcohol,lactic acid,more vinegar or what?
I would guess more vinigar, but what's the point in that?
Maybe it's just to wake up the wee  animule,getting them going....


It starts fermenting which creates bubbles like a carbonated beverage. Probably increasing the number of probiotics. In the blog post, Sarah does caution a bit that this build up can be...explosive!

 
K Putnam
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It seems really similar to back-sweetening kombucha with fruit or sugar to build up a little bit of carbonation for fizz.  Sometimes you just want a hit of cold fizz on your tongue, which is how the soda industry took over the world. 

I picked up some ginger and am about to make a batch.   I don't brew my own kombucha because I have already have too many creatures I need to be keeping alive.  This is *easy*.
 
diana todd
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sounds like it has some electrolytes!!


Jocelyn Campbell wrote:From searching for an ACV nutrition label, I found this one for Bragg, http://bragg.com/products/bragg-organic-apple-cider-vinegar.html, which shows 11 mg potassium per tablespoon of vinegar. At higher doses, there are small amounts of magnesium, too.

I think honey, molasses or maple sugar all contain some minerals which could be considered within the electrolyte category.

Ginger provides calcium, phosphorous, potassium, magnesium and even a trace of sodium.

 
John Weiland
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Really hope to try this recipe soon!   In the meantime, I tried making a version more like ginger/root beer of this with ginger, sugar, and some carrot, licorice, and pigweed root.  After a few days on the countertop, I put it in the fridge.  Took it out this evening and it is really syrupy, although the flavor not too bad and with only a mild carbonation.  I've seen a few references to this thickening happening in other ferments....possibly due to polysaccharide production by one or more of the microbes....but was wondering if anyone had any input or advice on what to do next...(?).  It was only on the countertop for 3 days.....not long enough?
 
K Putnam
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@John,

I've made two batches of this and haven't had much in the way of carbonation.  I don't think there was enough live bacteria in the vinegar to get it going again quickly.   I think I'd need a stronger vinegar started to really get some good carbonation.

That said, it is dead simple and tasty!
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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John Weiland wrote:Really hope to try this recipe soon!   In the meantime, I tried making a version more like ginger/root beer of this with ginger, sugar, and some carrot, licorice, and pigweed root.  After a few days on the countertop, I put it in the fridge.  Took it out this evening and it is really syrupy, although the flavor not too bad and with only a mild carbonation.  I've seen a few references to this thickening happening in other ferments....possibly due to polysaccharide production by one or more of the microbes....but was wondering if anyone had any input or advice on what to do next...(?).  It was only on the countertop for 3 days.....not long enough?


I think when using straight sugar instead of honey, molasses or maple syrup, you won't have as much mineral content for the sports drink or electrolyte action - if that's your goal.

On the other hand, sugar probably more quickly feeds microbes for fermenting. Though I'm sorry, I haven't done many fermented beverages, so I wouldn't be able to comment or help with what happened with yours. Though those flavors sound nice!
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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K Putnam wrote:@John,

I've made two batches of this and haven't had much in the way of carbonation.  I don't think there was enough live bacteria in the vinegar to get it going again quickly.   I think I'd need a stronger vinegar started to really get some good carbonation.

That said, it is dead simple and tasty!


I'd agree with K. I left part of my first batch out on the counter for three days or so (it was a honey, ACV, ginger juice batch in a bottle just like the picture above) and it didn't get bubbly either. The flavor changed to a deeper, more fermented-type flavor (less 'bright") which was nice and different, though I liked both versions of it.

I had wondered the opposite of K, whether the ACV is a bit strong and counters the fermenting critters to some extent.
 
John Weiland
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Thanks for replies and suggestions.  I think next time I will try to acidify the batch a bit from the beginning to see it it helps.  In the meantime, some other sites have suggested letting the ferment go longer.....what have I got to lose?.....and see if the syrupy texture declines with additional microbial activity.  I'm also going back to Katz's book to try his direct 'root beer' recipe, as it would be nice to have, along with ginger beer, a summer carbonated beverage that one can make at home and modify as they wish.  Thanks again for responses.
 
Rosanna Kuntze
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
John Weiland wrote:Really hope to try this recipe soon!   In the meantime, I tried making a version more like ginger/root beer of this with ginger, sugar, and some carrot, licorice, and pigweed root.  After a few days on the countertop, I put it in the fridge.  Took it out this evening and it is really syrupy, although the flavor not too bad and with only a mild carbonation.  I've seen a few references to this thickening happening in other ferments....possibly due to polysaccharide production by one or more of the microbes....but was wondering if anyone had any input or advice on what to do next...(?).  It was only on the countertop for 3 days.....not long enough?


I think when using straight sugar instead of honey, molasses or maple syrup, you won't have as much mineral content for the sports drink or electrolyte action - if that's your goal.

On the other hand, sugar probably more quickly feeds microbes for fermenting. Though I'm sorry, I haven't done many fermented beverages, so I wouldn't be able to comment or help with what happened with yours. Though those flavors sound nice!


We make kefir water and find that if we boil the water(very hard with iron etc.) and cool it before we make the kefir water it does not get syrupy.  It is apparently the too much mineral content that causes it to go syrupy. If you have filtered water to take out the hardness that would work as well.   Also honey kills your beneficial bacteria or whatever causes the fermentation. Honey is your natural antibiotic not a probiotic.   So I would limit that or add it later and use sugar or maple syrup for the fermentation. They feed the little creatures causing the fermentation.  The longer you leave it the more sour it will get as they will have eaten up the sweet stuff.   This is what my research and experience says.  

 
Rosanna Kuntze
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Dillon Nichols wrote:
John Polk wrote:Sounds yummy.

(Not so sure that I would call it a 'sports drink' though.  Most sports drinks have electrolytes to replace those lost through perspiring.)


I wonder if there's a permie-ish way to add in the electrolytes?

I've been drinking a lot of kombucha(sweetened with honey and berries) this summer in lieu of sports drinks/juice. My low-tech/lazy approach to try and cover electrolytes when I'm sweating my ass off has been to eat something salty and a banana, to cover the sodium/chloride and potassium, since I know those are high on the list of things lost in sweat... probably not a very complete solution though.[/quote

Your most ready-made natural Gatorade/sports drink is Coconut water.  Perhaps it is not a permie-ish drink unless you grow the coconuts on your property - impossible in Canada.  it has all those minerals you all were trying to fit into your Switchel.
 
John Weiland
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Thanks for this, Rosanna K.  I will now have a few things to investigate.  I did indeed make this brew with tap water from our well, that provides VERY hard, unfiltered water.  (The water is so hard that when I do a plumbing project, if my finished joints in the water lines leak a bit, I just leave them with a drip-pan underneath the leak....the hard water will seal the leaks in no time!)  So I also have bottled water and distilled water that we use during canning season that I can experiment with.  I would have thought also that, depending on the concentration used, honey might decrease microbial growth due to the antibiotics.  In fact if I lightly sweeten my homemade almond milk with sugar versus honey, I can expect the milk to go bad faster when using sugar versus honey.  But certainly all of this grist for the experimentation mill.  Thanks!
 
K Putnam
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Also honey kills your beneficial bacteria or whatever causes the fermentation. Honey is your natural antibiotic not a probiotic. 


SMACKS FOREHEAD.  LOL.   Of course it is.  Well, it still tastes good.
 
Laura Emil
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what!??!!! NEVER heard of this before - UNTIL JUST this past Saturday night, sitting on the porch outside a country dance barn, belatedly celebrating my birthday.   Somehow, it came up in conversation, sounded interesting, and various recipes were being compared.  An old timer overheard us talking, joined in w/recollections of his younger haying days, and then another chimed in.  Guess the universe is telling me it's time to learn to make this!  THANKS, fellow permies!
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Rosanna Kuntze wrote:
Also honey kills your beneficial bacteria or whatever causes the fermentation. Honey is your natural antibiotic not a probiotic.   So I would limit that or add it later and use sugar or maple syrup for the fermentation.


I know a lot of people say this about honey, but I use it for kombucha with no problem, and have for years and years, diluted honey to feed the microbes.  The conclusion I've come to about honey and its antibiotic properties that make it good to put on open wounds to prevent infection, is that it is the concentration of honey that works as an antibiotic.  When it is that thick, it draws moisture out of the living cells of fungi, bacteria, protista, all those tiny creatures whether pathogenic or not, the same way salt draws the moisture out of meat to make jerky.  Some learned scientist types call it "osmotic shock". 
 
John Weiland
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@Thekla M: "....diluted honey to feed the microbes.  The conclusion I've come to about honey and its antibiotic properties that make it good to put on open wounds to prevent infection, is that it is the concentration of honey that works as an antibiotic."

I suspect both cases are true.  Direct application of thick honey would have a similar effect to very thick sugar solutions which can sometimes retard microbial growth, probably through osmotic means.  But there is evidence of anti-microbial proteins in honey that confer an antibiotic property as well:  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100630111037.htm

As you indicated, if diluted enough in a brew, it likely would not be able to completely prevent microbial growth.  Same holds true for any antibiotic on a Petri plate....with a graded dilution of the antibiotic, you will start to see even antibiotic-susceptible bacteria start to grow at low enough concentrations of the compound.
 
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If you want electrolytes, infuse the vinegar for 6 weeks with an herb that has electrolytes.  Like Nettles for example.  Or infuse the vinegar with a plant from the mint family.  Vinegar extracts minerals / electrolytes and holds in suspension. 

Using vinegar "empty" is a waste of good vinegar. We infuse our vinegar with rose petals to also add a refrigerant to our switchel for the summer.  As it gets cooler, we use vinegar that has been infused with warming herbs.
 
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Before I was born, probably in the 20's or 30's, my Grandmother made switchel to take out to my Grandfather and their sons as they plowed the fields in extreme south Georgia.  I don't think she used anything but water, apple cider vinegar (homemade of course), and some of their own cane syrup, as my Grandfather was a syrup maker.  It worked well in the heat. 

 
Rosanna Kuntze
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Interesting about the switchel made by your Grandmother.  The connection to the mineral content is in the cane sugar syrup.  Sugar cane, as I understand it, if not highly refined has trace minerals in it.  Molasses, I understand, is high in iron.   That, of course, is a concentrated form of your sugar.  If you use unrefined sugar in your drinks or the cane sugar syrup of your Grand mother's day you are getting the trace minerals which may  be similar to the electrolyte content of or an equivalent of the same in Gatorade.  Just a thought.  Perhaps someone knows for sure.


In answer to the mint family infusions:  We make mint tea (peppermint or spearmint) in a kettle, add honey to it while it is hot then add lemon juice to it, then cool it.  One can add lemonade to the mint tea with similar results.  But we did find fresh squeezed lemon deteriorates fast in the drink especially when used in a thermos for work.  Now, I just put the honey in the tea and add the lemon squeezed into it as I drink a glass. 
 
John Weiland
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Re: Cane sugar syrup.  From Google:  "It's made by evaporating sugar cane juice until it's thick and syrupy."

So I suspect you are right about this, Rosanna.  It's not uncommon to take a piece of cane and suck on it for the sugar.  Try doing that with a slice of sugar beet and you will see why beet sugar pretty much need to be refined and crystallized to sucrose.  The crystallization process will remove most of the impurities, and yet I'm told that many can tell the difference in a blindfold test between sucrose from cane and sucrose from beet.  This is also why I'm pretty sure that "brown sugar" made from sucrose crystals derived from sugarbeet uses molasses from the cane industry to get the brown effect and flavor.  Beet molasses from sugar processing is okay for coating animal feed, but pretty nasty otherwise.

Great thread and recipes here.....I've just started experimenting with mixing ginger bug with a root (carrot/pigweed/sugarbeet)/licorice tea blend for a summer drink over ice.  Still needs a little work so I just don't end up drunk and passed-out on the deck furniture, but the taste is pretty good.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Jamie Jackson wrote:If you want electrolytes, infuse the vinegar for 6 weeks with an herb that has electrolytes.  Like Nettles for example.  Or infuse the vinegar with a plant from the mint family.  Vinegar extracts minerals / electrolytes and holds in suspension. 

Using vinegar "empty" is a waste of good vinegar. We infuse our vinegar with rose petals to also add a refrigerant to our switchel for the summer.  As it gets cooler, we use vinegar that has been infused with warming herbs.


Infused vinegar is a great idea! I like the flavor of nettles in tea, and as a green veggie in food. I wonder how it might impact the flavor of the Switchel. Speaking of flavor, I've been wondering what it might be like to add salt, too, as R Scott suggested, and haven't quite tried that yet.

Interestingly, when I was looking up the minerals in ginger root, sodium showed up, if I recall. I've been boiling fresh ginger root and using that tea as part of the water, but infusing vinegar with ginger would take less energy - nice!

 
Jocelyn Campbell
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For those who aren't fond of the vinegar taste of the Switchel, and/or might want something different to compete with those florescent-colored drinks, I ran across this recipe today:

Chia Seed Drink for Energy and Lasting Hydration by Holistic Squid.



This recipe includes green tea which does have some caffeine, which might or might not be welcome.

I like how the blog author goes through the benefits of each ingredient in the recipe, citing info sources, and at times advising on the best types to purchase (like watching out for fluoride in regular green teas - who knew?!).


 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Hot days have arrived! I think it's time for some Switchel.

In the link above, I think Sarah Pope updated her recipe to add tumeric, because I don't recall that being in this before:
2 quarts filtered water
1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar preferably organic packed in glass bottles
1/2 cup raw honey
2 tsp ginger ground, preferably organic
1 tsp turmeric optional, ground, preferably organic
1 pinch cardamom optional, ground, preferably organic

We often make it with maple syrup in place of the honey to make it vegan, and I have some organic ginger juice, which is super easy to splash in.

 
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Hmm. Switchel sounds like an ACV version of sekanjabin. The versions I've had are typically honey or sugar, red wine vinegar, mint and water. Years ago I used to make a syrup from just vinegar, sugar and mint extract that I'd take to events and put in my water.
 
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I've been following that recipe (except I often forget the ginger, oops) and my youngest nieces begs to take it to school with her.  I probably would never had had the nerve to try it at all if I hadn't first sampled Jocelyn's at wheaton labs.

I drink it over ice as the flavor is a little intense for me until I dilute it.I'd describe it as being like a lemonade made with apple juice instead of water and sugar. The more I drink it, the more the flavor grows on me. It's even possible I'd go for this over a traditional lemonade at this point.

We'll see over time if it can be my gateway to enjoying fermented foods. I suspect kumbucha sodas are the next step, or maybe just allowing this to ferment further to produce carbonation.
 
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