Hydrate with Switchel

by | Aug 21, 2017 | Fermented Foods, Gut Health, Recipes

In traditional times, before chemical laden, sugary sports drinks, there was switchel. Switchel is an all-natural energy booster and electrolyte replenisher. It originated in the Caribbean and made its way to the American colonies becoming a popular summertime drink in the late 1600’s. It became the traditional drink for thirsty farmers harvesting hay, which created its alternative popular name “Haymakers Punch”. It is a refreshing, tasty beverage made from apple cider vinegar, fresh ginger, sweetened with molasses or honey, and then cut with water. Vermont has its own variation called “Haymakers Oat Water” that includes oats and molasses.

Benefits of drinking switchel include:
  • Electrolyte boost: Electrolytes are nutrients or chemicals that are responsible for controlling the fluid balance of the body and are important in muscle contraction, energy generation, and almost every major biochemical reaction in the body. The apple cider vinegar and the maple syrup contain potassium-rich electrolytes, making it a natural, whole food version of a sugary sports drink and help the body restore its electrolyte balance.
  • Savor and acquire the rewards of ginger: Ginger is packed with health benefits. This root is a powerful anti-inflammatory as well as a pain reducer. Studies have found that consuming a small amount of ginger is more effective at reducing pain symptoms and inflammation than painkillers. Ginger is also a great digestive aid, soothing upset stomachs as well as a strong immune booster.
  • Enjoy and reap the benefits of fermented apple cider vinegar: By regularly drinking switchel, you’ll get all the nourishing benefits of apple cider vinegar; including healing compounds, like probiotics, magnesium, and potassium. It is also known to balance the body’s PH levels and is a great detoxifier.

Turmeric Switchel Recipe

Turmeric is a traditional powerhouse of anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties. The black pepper is used to increase the bioavailability of the curcumin found in the turmeric.


  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup or raw honey
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh turmeric or 1/3 tsp. dried
  • 1 tsp. grated fresh ginger
  • Tiny pinch of freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • 1 cup filtered water


  1. Combine the maple syrup or honey, apple cider vinegar, lime, turmeric, ginger, and black pepper in a jar or glass and stir to dilute the maple syrup or honey. Add the water and stir to combine.
  2. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to a day. The longer it steeps, the stronger the turmeric and ginger flavor. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer; discard the solids. Serve over ice.

Serving Size: 1 cup

Reprinted from Wild Drinks and Cocktails by Emily Han, (Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc., 2016)

The Switchel – A Traditional, All Natural Energy Drink

After a tough gym session, a yoga workout or a vigorous hike, you may reach for a canned electrolyte sports drink to rehydrate. Back in 17th Century New England, USA, after a hard day’s work in the hay fields, Switchel was the drink of choice. Otherwise known as ‘Haymakers Punch’, Switchel tastes similar to homemade ginger beer but is not fizzy. It has a hot kick not dissimilar to alcohol but is made with vinegar, like a Shrub. It can be drunk hot as a winter warmer or cold over ice as a thirst quencher.

Switchel generally has only four ingredients, water, apple cider vinegar, a sweetener, and ginger. The ingredients are natural and readily available and contain no artificial colors or preservatives.


  • 2 cups water
  • 4 tbsp. raw honey or maple syrup (traditional recipes use molasses but I am NOT a fan)\
  • 4 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1-2 tablespoons of grated raw ginger or powdered ginger
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice


  1. Combine all ingredients (apart from salt) in a jar
  2. Screw lid on jar, shake to combine the ingredients then leave in the fridge for 6-24 hours for the flavors to develop
  3. Shake the jar then taste. Add more lemon juice or sweetener if required then shake again to make sure any additional ingredients are combined. Sieve through cheesecloth or nut milk bag into a glass or drinking bottle.
  4. Serve. I like mine straight from the fridge over ice with a slice of lemon…and if I have it a generous dash of rum.

Notes: There are no hard and fast rules with Switchel ingredients, so my advice is just to experiment with the basic recipe and work out what combination works best for you. Be warned, I like my Switchel strong and zingy with a kick, so if you prefer a more subtle drink you may wish to use a higher ratio of water to other ingredients.

Reprinted from A Wild Green Life, author Claire, 2015.