Switchel

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar (yes vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup sugar or honey
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal (optional)
  • tap water to make 2 quarts

This is a very old recipe, imported from our Yankee neighbors to the north, and before that, from Nova Scotia. Did you ever wonder what folks used to drink in the days before soda pop, and when lemons were out of season? Why Switchel of course. Instead of lemon juice, it uses a tangy combination of flavorful apple cider vinegar, molasses and ginger to make a summertime treat which will whet your whistle better than any modern thirst quencher I’ve ever run across.

First get out a two quart pitcher. Measure the vinegar, molasses, sugar or honey and ginger into it. Add cold tap water to fill. Stir to dissolve everything and serve in tall ice filled cups. Traditionally, oatmeal was also added to the mixture, to give it a little body, and improve the flavor. I am ashamed to say I have never prepared it with the added oatmeal, so if anyone does, please let me know what you think. This beverage takes a little getting used to. It is strongly flavored, nothing bland about it. It tastes best when it has mellowed overnight, blending the ginger with the molasses. It does quench your thirst better than anything else on a hot summer day though, and of course, costs next to nothing to prepare. I have also tried heating it in the winter time and drinking it as a hot toddy, it is actually quite delicious this way.

I hope you enjoy this and my other inexpensive beverage recipes. Another favorite of mine is this spiced citrus tea mix. Give it a try.