Switchel is an old-fashioned tonic typically made with ginger, apple cider vinegar, a natural sweetener, and citrus fruit. It also goes by "haymaker's punch" and "ginger water" and is thought to have Caribbean origins. The recipe is straightforward, and the infused water is refreshing and invigorating.
The combined health benefits of switchel's ingredients are the drink's main appeal. It's a tasty way to get a dose of apple cider vinegar, which should never be drunk undiluted. Ginger is the most popular flavoring, while honey is a favorite sweetener. Adding lemon juice gives it bright flavor and vitamin C.
Beyond being a healthy drink that many people enjoy each day, switchel is delicious. The basic recipe is just a guide, and there are countless ways that you can customize it to your taste or the ingredients you have on hand. Choose your sweetener, add fruits and herbs, or enjoy it with a bit of sparkle. One batch lasts for a week in the refrigerator, and you can change it up each time.
- 1/4 cup ginger (sliced or chopped)
- 3 to 4 cups water (filtered or distilled; divided)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey (to taste)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh, to taste)
Gather the ingredients.
Peel and chop or slice the ginger root. When using organic ginger, there's no need to peel it; the peel has most of the root's nutrients. If you choose to leave the peel, be sure to scrub it thoroughly under running water.
In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup of water to a boil. Add the ginger. Remove from heat and let steep for at least 10 minutes, or until completely cool.
Pour the ginger water and ginger into a 1-quart jar along with the remaining water. Add the honey, apple cider vinegar, and the juice of half a lemon.
Secure the lid, shake well, and store in the refrigerator overnight.
Measure out about 1/2 to 1 cup of switchel to drink each day. Serve it cold or over ice, and enjoy!
- The switchel keeps in the refrigerator for about 1 week.
- If you plan to make a sparkling switchel, use just 3 cups of water for the infusion so it isn't as diluted. Add seltzer or club soda to the glass.
- For the most effective switchel, use unfiltered apple cider vinegar with the "mother" (the cloudy bloom). Braggs is a popular brand that's readily available.
- Grate the ginger if you like. There's little difference in the flavor, though larger pieces are easier to strain out when needed.
- For a less intense ginger spice taste, do not boil the water. Instead, add the ginger pieces to the jar and let it infuse overnight in the refrigerator.
- Strain out the ginger whenever it reaches your desired flavor, or after about four days.
- Add as much honey as you like. Some people enjoy it sweeter, adding up to 1/2 cup. Start small on your first batch, and try it with a little extra sweetener in the glass. Add more to the next full batch of switchel if you like.
- For more citrus taste, add a few lemon slices to the switchel jar. Remove them when the flavor reaches your desired intensity.
- Switch the sweetener. Real maple syrup and blackstrap molasses are favorites.
- Granular sugars, including raw and palm sugars, are popular as well. For these, dissolve about 2 tablespoons of the sugar into the boiling ginger water to create a lightly sweetened ginger syrup. Make adjustments as needed for your desired level of sweetness.
- If your ginger is starting to go bad, preserve it by making a ginger simple syrup which doubles as the sweetener and flavoring ingredient.
- Use other citrus fruits instead of lemon. Limes and any orange variety add their own flavors and health properties to the switchel.
- Add other fruits, such as blueberries or elderberries, to the switchel for extra flavor and benefits.
- Muddle herbs into the switchel or add them when making the ginger water; strain out as needed. Rosemary, basil, mint, and lemon thyme are good choices. The spice of a cinnamon stick is nice as well.