I’M JUST CURIOUS: Summer drinks: kind of old ones

by Debbie Walker

Have you ever heard of Switchel or Shrubs? I never had. I know what a switch is and a shrub but they were nothing like what you will be reading. Mom’s friend Debbie knew what I was talking about. It may be because Debbie is celebrating 92 years now! I love asking her questions but that is another story!

I was reading my e-mail newsletter from Farmer’s Almanac. I got to the section about “Old Fashioned Lemonade Recipe” and that led to the “Switchel” drink mix. Later I found the “Shrubs” recipe on Kitchen.com and it was posted by Emily Han.

“Switchel” has been around from the 1700s into the 1900s. Early American colonies recipe might have come from the Caribbean before it got here. This vinegar and ginger drink was known as “Haymaker’s Punch” in the early 1900s and used for the field workers.

It is supposed to be better for us than any soft drink or sports drink. It is said to be high in potassium if molasses is used. It is supposed to replace electrolytes. But do me a favor and don’t trust me, check it out before you try the recipe that follows:

Switchel

Basic Recipe: 1 Cup water, 2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 4 teaspoons ground ginger or 1 teaspoon fresh grated (sifted) ginger. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours and up to a day. Pour over ice or mix with soda water.

So maybe if you are working in the field and someone brings you a strange drink, maybe it will be this one. If not it might be ….

Shrubs

Basic Recipe: 1 Cup Elderberries (or raspberries or stone fruit), 1 Cup apple cider vinegar (red wine vinegar tastes sweetest, champagne vinegar tastes grape-y), Soda to serve.

Wash and dry berries, put in pint size jar, lightly crush with fork or masher. Add vinegar and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, occasionally shake or stirring. Give mixture a good shake- strain using fine mess strainer or cheesecloth. Discard solids. Measure liquid. For every cup of liquid use 1 cup of sugar. Combine liquid and sugar in a saucepan. Bring to boil over medium-low heat. Stirring to dissolve sugar. Boil for 5 minutes and remove from heat. Let cool, bottle and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks, (possibly much longer).

Serve with sparkling water, Start 1 part shrub to 6 parts sparkling water and adjust to taste. The syrup may also be mixed with water or used in cocktails.

Please let me know if any of this is familiar to you. I had never heard of it but I am fairly confident that I will have to try these. We will say my need to try this is for “a history” experience. However I don’t feel the need to go out to the hayfields. I’ll skip that part.

I’m just curious what I will hear from you. Contact me at dwdaffy@yahoo.com and don’t forget we are on line and have archives, too. Thanks for reading!

 
 

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1 reply
  1. John Lawrence
    John Lawrence says:

    My father was born in 1909 and did his haying in the 1920’s and 30’s in Solon. He told me about switchel but we never made it. I appreciate your column and Marilyn’s now that I live in NC. John Lawrence

    Reply

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