Recipe: Switchel

We have been making an apple cider vinegar drink for over a year now. It all started when I was a child and had the stomach flu. Yuck!

Sounds silly, but seriously, that’s where it started. My mom would mix up a concoction of apple cider vinegar (acv) and water and force us to take it by the teaspoonful every so many minutes to help settle our stomachs. Of course, the stench and taste of vinegar while you’re puking is enough to make you barf again. And I did. BUT, it did help the belly stop heaving.

Fast forward 20+ years, and my entire family has the stomach flu over a period of a week or so. I was 8 months pregnant with our youngest, and we all missed Thanksgiving with the extended family. I called Mom to cry about missing the holiday, and she reminded me of the acv trick. I was on board! Anything to stop my very pregnant body from throwing up every 10 minutes. My husband wasn’t quite on board. I promised him it would work, and I started taking it myself. It took a few vomits, but my stomach finally settled down. I was the last one to have the flu, so I tucked that trick in the back of my mind.

The following year, a few of us acquired the stomach flu again. I used the acv mix and it worked great! A year later, what do you know, we got the stomach flu again. (It has become a yearly thing, it seems.) We were out of Gatorade and had no Pedialyte to help replenish electrolytes. I searched online for something we could make here at home and came across an emergency electrolyte replacement drink. It included apple cider vinegar; I was sold!

I mixed it up and it tasted great! Six of us enjoyed it; only Iris did not like the flavor. We continued making it almost every day as a drink option during the day. Ethan loves it for breakfast. The other kids love it when they come in from playing. I like to drink it with a meal because of its effect on my stomach (less bloating and helps with digestion).

I found out this past week it has a name – Switchel. It apparently was made a long time ago as an alternative to water for those that worked the fields. It was made with ginger, molasses and vinegar. It had/has lots of nutrients (potassium, iron, calcium, magnesium; plus, it’s anti-viral, anti-nausea, and antibacterial) and was easier on the stomach in the summer heat than water was.

Our recipe is just water, acv, sugar and a little salt. The original Switchel had molasses; I tried it with molasses last week, and no one really preferred that flavor. I will be trying with honey today. It can be refrigerated or simply left on the counter. Since it contains vinegar, it really will take a while before it “goes bad”.

So, here is our version of Switchel:

8 cups water

7-8 tsp unfiltered apple cider vinegar

7 tbsp sweetener (raw sugar or honey or molasses)

7 pinches of salt (this can be eliminated if you want, but if you are making this during the summer, i highly recommend the sugar if you are sweating outside all day!)

A few slices of fresh ginger, peeled

Combine the ingredients in a pitcher or jar. Stir well until thoroughly mixed. Enjoy at room temperature or chill. Some people add in lemon or lime slices for some vitamin C. I haven’t tried this but lemon does sound yummy in it.

This is a great substitute for juice boxes or sports drink. No artificial things and definitely a thirst quencher! PLUS, if you are passing around the stomach flu…it is a wonderful hydration drink!


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