Friday, July 3, 2020

Haymaker's Punch





Haymaker's Punch, also known as Switchel, ginger-water, switchy and swizzle, has been around for at least a few hundred years, but it's finding renewed popularity as a healthy hydration drink--something of a historic Gatorade. Recipes vary, but Switchel always contains water, apple cider vinegar, sweetener (molasses, maple syrup, or honey), and ginger. 
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https://images.app.goo.gl/AynYs7MViyH5WiSj7
Switchel's origins are something of a mystery: both the Caribbean and New England have been credited with crafting the recipe in the 1600s. Apple trees were first planted in Massachusetts by European settlers in the 1620's, and by 1775, 10% of all New England farms had a cider press. Hard apple cider was drunk by adults and children alike, but some of the hard cider was allowed to ferment into vinegar, which was used for preservation, medicine, and cleaning.

It was also used to make Switchel. Many colonial farmers harbored the belief that in hot weather, a stomach was left cold by perspiration and needed to be heated up by drinking alcohol or something that caused a warming sensation going down, like ginger or vinegar (Sarah Hand Meacham, Every Home a Distillery: Alcohol, Gender and Technology in the Colonial Chesapeake, page 10). At some point, colonists realized drinking vinegar and ginger in their water was both refreshing and revitalizing.
File:American hay harvest LCCN2004669658.jpg
American Hay Harvest. Public Domain.
Switchel was in widespread use in America by the 19th century. Herman Melville mentions it in I and My Chimney, and Laura Ingalls Wilder refers to it (by the name of ginger-water) in The Long Winter. Its benefits as a hydrating, refreshing beverage made it particularly popular during harvest, which is where it got the name Haymaker's Punch.
File:Laura Ingalls Wilder.jpg
Laura Ingalls Wilder. Public Domain.
What makes this drink so good at quenching thirst, both then and now?

As we know today, hydration isn't just about restoring water, but minerals as well, and drinking a large quantity of water quickly can make some overheated people ill. As Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote,  the "[g]inger-water would not make them sick, as plain cold water would when they were so hot."

Ginger may have given Switchel its taste and a sense of warmth, but cider vinegar with the mother in it is truly a key ingredient (the mother is a sediment of bacteria, enzymes and yeast). Vinegar, like ginger and natural sweeteners like molasses, are rich in potassium, natural electrolytes. 

Today, Switchel is a natural alternative to sports drinks or soda, made with ingredients many of us have on hand. If you'd like to try, here's a basic recipe that can be adapted according to preference. Oh, and yes, it is a little tart. If you've tried Kombucha, you may find them similar. 

For one serving:
Combine two cups water, 1-2 T. apple cider vinegar with the mother, 2 t. real maple syrup, honey or molasses, and either a shaving of fresh ginger or a few dashes ground ginger. Let it steep for an hour or two for the ginger flavor to soak in, and when ready, pour over ice and enjoy.

For stronger ginger flavor, boil fresh ginger in water for a few minutes. Allow the ginger-water to cool before mixing with the sweetener and vinegar, to protect the mother. 


Add ins? Fresh lemon juice or other fruit juice. However you make it, see if it cools you down on a hot summer day.


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Have you ever heard of Haymaker's Punch before? Have you tried it?

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Susanne Dietze makes Switchel by the pitcher for her family to enjoy. She is the author of award-winning stories with timeless heart, including The Blizzard Bride and the upcoming A Future For His Twins.




10 comments:

  1. Very interesting. I've not heard of this before. My husband loves ginger. I'll have to make him some.

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    1. Hi Linda! It's an acquired taste but my husband and I have grown fond of it. It's so refreshing. Hope you enjoy it!

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  2. I am pretty sure I've had this before during haying season, but it's been a long time. And I don't know that my mom ever used vinegar with the "mother" in it. We may try it again soon. Thanks for the great post.

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    1. It is so refreshing! I find it to be so refreshing after exercising or working in the yard (or while writing, LOL). Any apple cider vinegar will give the drink its taste and be refreshing, but the mother gives the drink a few extra benefits. I hope you enjoy if you try it again soon!

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  3. How cool (pun intended)! As they say, there's nothing new under the sun, and I've been drinking Haymaker's Punch for 3-4 years. My husband started last fall as a way to avoid soft-drinks.

    It's a staple hydrating drink in a eating plan called Trim Healthy Mama (THM). THM'ers call it "Good Girl Moonshine" or GGMS. :)

    At first, I bought fresh ginger, boiled it and froze the juice in cubes, then brewed tea and made it up like that from "scratch". Now, hubby and I use ACV with the mother, ground ginger, and a pack of True Lime Raspberry Lemonade (sweetened with stevia) and fill a quart jar with water and ice. Occasionally, we use Mio Fruit Punch or I'll brew the fruit flavored teas. In a pinch, I've used Orange & Vanilla Extracts to flavor my GGMS.

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    1. I have never heard of THM!!! I learn something new every day--love it. Good girl moonshine...LOL. I love your recipes. We will have to give them a try! Adding to brewed tea sounds so easy and delicious. I saw a recipe with blackberries and that definitely caught my eye, too...

      Thank you for sharing your recipes!

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    2. Susanne, it's also really good HOT, esp in the winter time. Many times when I'm coming down with a cold or it's late and I want a hot drink, but not the extra caffeine in coffee, I make a hot GGMS. I do add a bit of extra sweetener to that, but it's so good to soothe a sore throat.

      For Summer, just last week, I made sno-cones. If you have a blender that will crush ice into "snow", make your snow, drizzle your favorite Haymaker's Punch over your snow, then add sweetened heavy cream or condensed milk. It was SO good, quick and easy!

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    3. Gasp--I never thought of trying it hot before! Wow! Will do! And what a great idea about a snow cone! Hmm, I will have to try it! Thanks!

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  4. Love this, Susie. I have ACV and am looking for ways to use in with food. I've also given up soft drinks and don't want to add summer humidity to our house by heating the kettle for tea, so this truly sounds like a great drink to have around. Thanks so much.

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    1. It's a fun change, and summer is a great time to try it. It's so refreshing! One thing I like about switchel is playing with the recipe. You can add ingredients and change the flavor!

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