How to Make Switchel: A Refreshing Electrolyte Boosting Drink

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Summer has hit full force here! My thirst seems unending and plain water doesn’t seem to cut it. Being pregnant I limit my kombucha intake which is my usual summer drink. In place of kombucha I turned to switchel. 

Say what?! 

Don’t worry! I’d never heard of it either until I spent a summer in Vermont.

They made some for me and proudly called it Vermont Switchel. What a great refreshing drink during a long day in the field!

Switchel from Long Ago

Even though Vermont claims switchel, I first read about it (unknowingly) multiple times in the Little House on the Prairie series. 

Ma had sent them ginger-water. She had sweetened the cool well-water with sugar, flavored it with vinegar, and put in plenty of ginger to warm their stomachs so they could drink till they were not thirsty. Ginger-water would not make them sick, as plain cold water would when they were so hot. Such a treat made that ordinary day into a special day, the first day that Laura helped in the haying. 

Laura Ingalls Wilder The Long Winter


Wise Ma from 100 years ago knew that plain water wasn’t enough to sustain a body in the heat of a summer haying day. 

Don’t get me wrong; just drinking water is good but I think it gets pushed too much in place of other beneficial drinks. There are so many nourishing drinks out there that provide electrolytes, minerals and vitamins and at the same time quench thirst. 

Learn how to make switchel: a delicious, healthy refreshing drink that will boost your electrolytes!When I get thirsty I reach for unsweetened herbal tea, kombucha, switchel, lemon water or even plain water with a pinch of salt thrown in. My goal is to add something to my water so that it doesn’t completely dilute my electrolyte and salt levels. 

It’s amazing how much more energizing and quenching fluid with substance is than just plain water. And as in Laura Ingalls’ excerpt, chugging it won’t make you sick on a hot day. 

Benefits of Switchel

One ingredient of switchel is raw apple cider vinegar. Raw apple cider vinegar (with the mother) provides probiotics, aids in digestion and stabilizes blood sugar amongst other things. Overall, you can’t go wrong with this super tonic. 

Ginger just adds wonderful flavor to most drinks! In addition to being tasty, ginger also helps with digestion, reduces inflammation and provides an abundance of vitamins and minerals. 

Honey sweetens switchel. I prefer to use raw honey from a local source. There is discussion of local honey helping relieve allergies but either way, I get mine from our neighbor to support him and it is convenient. And the health benefits are endless! Both internally and externally! But in this case I will point out that it contains lots of vitamins and minerals. Who doesn’t like delicious honey!

Sea salt adds to the mineral content of switchel. It also helps replace some of what has been sweated out during vigorous work. 

Each ingredient in switchel has a purpose in replenishing your exhausted body. What a great summer drink! 

How to Make Switchel

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  1. 1/2 cup raw apple cider vinegar
  2. 1/2 cup ginger infusion
  3. 1/2 cup raw honey
  4. 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  5. 2 quarts water
Ginger Infusion
  1. Bring water to a boil. Grate fresh ginger root and pack it into a tea ball. If you don't have a tea ball, just throw the grated ginger in the water and strain with a fine mesh strainer. Pour the boiling water over the ginger in a heat safe glass or ceramic container. Let it steep until it cools to room temperature.
  2. Adjust the potency as you desire with more ginger and/or less water.
  3. Keep this in the fridge so it is handy for each batch of switchel.
  1. Combine all the ingredients and stir until combined.
  2. Serve cold or over ice.
  1. This recipe is easily adjusted to your preferences!
Traditional Homemaker
Have you ever heard of switchel? Do you enjoy it? 
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