February is a month of darkness, cold, rain and early sunsets. Some days recently it has seemed like it is dawn or dusk all day long. I have a love-hate thing with February. It should be a time to stay inside, read and be cozy, but work and play call me outside when I really just want to stay at home. February is my time to abstain from some of my Holidays-into-January overindulgence.
Have you ever had a nice glass of “Switchel” over ice with a splash of soda? It has helped me keep my electrolytes in balance, stay hydrated and has definitely replaced a glass or two of wine in the evenings. After a couple of days of drinking Switchel I do think February is feeling better and looking a little bit brighter.
“Switchel” is a word I was unfamiliar with until recently when I ran across it in a novel and did a Google search. Lo and behold hundreds of articles and recipes for “switchels” were at my fingertips. The basic old-fashioned recipes, also called “swizzles, ginger-water or haymaker’s punch” and are traditionally cooling summer drinks, have many things I like….apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, fresh ginger, maple syrup or molasses. These are ingredients that are good for us in so many ways I cannot begin to list them. A bright, refreshing and very thirst quenching beverage to shake up February.
There is a great story about the history of Switchels here at the Smithsonian website. I often drink store-bought Kombucha drinks and after making a batch of Switchel, this is what I’ll be drinking instead! Homemade and less expensive.
Not for everyone….my apologizes to Wouter as he was my Switchel taste tester….watching the “faces” he made while taking a drink my experiments was worth it, but also let me know a few adjustments on my first recipes were needed. More sweetener…real maple syrup…created a more palatable concoction….too sour into just-right sweet. Maybe a bit less fresh ginger juice as it adds a very, very spicy touch. Adjusted and topped with soda water it is a fizzy good beverage.
There is a long history of holistic medicine that includes the benefits of drinking unpasteurized apple cider vinegar and my favorite one is “Braggs”. I have been known to just drink a swig right out of the bottle when I feel a bit sluggish and out-of-sorts. It seems to clear my throat, freshen up my breath and I feel it “clears out the Winter cobwebs” internally.
February Ginger-Maple Switchel
- 1 large hand of fresh ginger, unpeeled and chopped
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 1/2 cup Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
- the juice of one lemon
- club soda
- fresh mint leaves if you like
- Process fresh ginger and 1/3 cup water in a food processor until finely chopped. Strain through a mesh strainer, pressing pulp gently with the back of a spoon to get out all the juice. You should have about 1/2 cup. Pour into a jar or pitcher.
- To the pitcher add the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup and lemon juice. Stir to mix well. Cover and chill for 1 hour to let flavors meld before drinking.
- Add ice cubes to a glass, fill glass a third of the way with “Switchel” and top with soda or plain water. Stir to mix, and top with some fresh mint leaves if you like.
Notes: You can experiment with flavors. I added 1/2 cup blood orange juice to one batch which was delicious.
This recipe is based on the historical readings about “Switchels” and the hundreds of recipes on the internet with my own twists.
Teresa Blackburn http://www.teresablackburnfoodstyling.com