If you’re off the alcohol for whatever reason, this drink is something delicious that really fills that Friday evening cocktail gap! It’s an adult mocktail that isn’t full of refined sugar or tons of fruit juice like so many of the options out there. I’ve only discovered Switchel recently, but after looking it up it turns out it’s been around for years. This Spicy Ginger Switchel is my take on the old fashioned recipe.
Switchel is a drink, supposedly with Caribbean origins. There are recipes dating back to the 17th and 18th century in the American colonies, specifically New England. It was traditionally given to farmers working in the fields at haymaking time which is why it can also be called Haymaker’s Punch or Farmer’s Relief. Switchel was said to quench their thirst and be easier on their stomachs and more hydrating than drinking cold water. It also has links to the prohibition era as many people drank it as an alternative to alcohol when they couldn’t get hold of any. The combination of sweet, sour, spicy and acid makes for a really interesting drink which has enough body and enough flavour to stand up to an alcoholic drink.
Switchel has so many great properties and is a fantastic drink with plenty of health benefits. It is a rich source of potassium which is good for electrolyte balance. It is also a probiotic drink (full of good bacteria) if you use apple cider vinegar made with the ‘mother’ in it. This is a vinegar that is not filtered or heated (pasteurised), so the healthy living bacteria are preserved and kept alive to do their healing! These probiotics help to lower your blood sugar and increase healthy gut bacteria as well as boosting immunity and aiding with digestion. It’s a little powerhouse of goodness that just happens to be delicious!
And the best bit, it’s so simple to make. It takes about 10 minutes of your time and you can make a big batch and keep it in the fridge to drink all week long. All you have to do, is thinly slice the ginger – there’s no need to peel it. Then, add the sliced ginger to a saucepan with the water and chilli. (You can chop the chilli up to release some of the seeds and oil if you like it spicier). Next, boil the ingredients on a high heat until the water has reduced by half. (This should take about 5 mins.) Stir the honey through the hot flavoured water until it dissolves and squeeze and add the juice of half a lemon.
Then you have to allow the mixture to cool before adding the apple cider vinegar. If you don’t you destroy the raw properties of the vinegar and will lose some of the health benefits – it will still taste the same though. Once the mixture is cooled, add the apple cider vinegar and pour into a container to allow the flavours to infuse.
This recipe makes a concentrate which you then top up with tonic, soda, ginger beer or any mixer of your choice. I like to serve about 30ml topped up with the mixer, but you will need to play around with the measures to create a drink that is the strength you like. Serve in a fancy glass garnished with some of the ginger slices to make it feel like a really special drink. This Spicy Ginger Switchel is a delicious alternative to an alcoholic drink or cocktail. It’s sweet, spicy and sour all at once with bags of flavour.
The Switchel will last around a week or slightly more in a sealed container the fridge. And, if you’re not abstaining, you could always add a shot of Gin or your favourite alcohol to make a boozy version. You could also top it up with hot water or hot apple juice instead and have it as a warming drink. I’m sure it would be a fantastic natural remedy for a cold or sore throat!
Allergy & Dietary Information for Spicy Ginger Switchel
This recipe is Grainfree, Glutenfree, Dairyfree & Refined-Sugarfree. It’s also suitable for SCD, Paleo, Low Carb, Vegetarian & Vegan diets.
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