Lime Lemongrass Switchel Recipe
Updated: Mar 3
Think of switchel as "Nature's Gatorade." This energizing, electrolyte-filled, elixir is perfect for safeguarding the body against the effects of the summer heat. Switchel, or "Haymaker's Punch, is a refreshing drink made from apple cider vinegar. It was how early American farmers stayed ahead of the heat in the hayfields when plain water was not enough nourishment. Although widely popular in New England, similar drinks have storied histories that trace back to the 17th century Caribbean, and other accounts ranging back to early Greece, India, and Africa.
Colonial farmers quenched their thirst during hot summer days with switchel and during my historical research, I discovered this potassium packed elixir was also a favorite of the United States Congress. They went "strong" with their version - which was heavily ladened with Jamaican Rum.
"Although widely popular in New England, similar drinks have storied histories that trace back to the 17th century Caribbean, and other accounts ranging back to early Greece, India, and Africa.“
The Old Farmers Almanac notes, "On hot days—all summer and spring and often in winter (although perhaps they drank apple cider tonic in the winter)—a great bowl of switchel stood in the center of the Senate or the House. This was liberally “flavored” with Jamaica Rum. Members paused in their great speeches—those that yet ring through the ages perhaps—and going up to the great bowl, dipped deep. Sometimes they paused glass in hand, to emphasize a telling sentence; sometimes they orated glass in hand and then drank deep and again stalked back majestically to their place with switchel under their belts." - A History of Switchel: Old Fashioned Summer Drink.
In true Elixir Fixer fashion, I modernized the recipe with a blend of lemongrass, lime zest, and turmeric with hints of cardamom. I use local honey as the sweetener component in place of traditional molasses. This is a perfect thirst quenching zero-proof elixir and for those who want to go hard like our elected officials during the mid 1800's, add rum.
Haymaker's Punch/Switchel Recipe
2 quarts of filtered water
½ cup raw apple cider vinegar
½ cup raw honey
2 teaspoons powdered ginger (2 ½ tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and chopped)
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cracked cardamom pods
The zest and juice of two limes
½ cup lemongrass
1/2 gallon glass jar with a tight-fitting lid
Combine all ingredients in a large glass jar with a lid.
Shake well and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Strain solids from liquids.
Discard solids and refrigerate the Switchel.
Ideally, it's best to use a plastic lid. If you are using a metal lid, create a barrier between the metal and vinegar such as a plastic wrap or parchment paper.
Makes 1/2 gallon. Cheers!
Recipe by Angie Jackson. Photographs by Angie Jackson and Canva.
Article by Angie Jackson and Austin Wines, authors of "Drink the Wild: Recipes from a Kitchen Witch for the Spirited and Sober Soul"
Do you have a family recipe for switchel or have you made this modern version? Please share your story in the comments!
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