Ginger Honey Switchel Recipe

How to make honey ginger switchel

Ever heard of Switchel? It is a fermented beverage that hasn’t seemed to gain the popularity of Kombucha… yet (though I suspect it will soon!). It relies on pre-fermented apple cider vinegar and does not have a long fermentation process like kombucha or kefir do, making it a great first drink for anyone new to ferments.

What is Switchel?

Switchel has quite a few nicknames including Haymaker’s Punch, Ginger-water and Swizzy. It is a fermented drink that originated in the Caribbean and that often contains apple cider vinegar, water, a natural sweetener and a flavoring, like ginger root.

It is an inexpensive and electrolyte filled way to get the benefits of apple cider vinegar (and much more tasty than undiluted vinegar!). While it isn’t as popular as Kombucha yet, I recently saw a Switchel-based cocktail on the menu in a restaurant, making me wonder if its return to popularity has begun.

History of Switchel

Sources disagree about when Switchel officially made its way to the United States, but agree that it has been here for well over 100 years. I remember a mention of it in one of my favorite childhood books, The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder:

“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.”

Sources also disagree about the “right” way to make switchel, the sweetener that should be used, and the proportions. Like most recipes, the trick seems to be finding a recipe that you love.

Benefits of Switchel

Like other fermented foods and drinks, Switchel has its share of benefits, depending on the ingredients. There are endless ways to make this tasty drink, and all of the ingredients offer their own benefits. In my favorite recipe, I use:

  • Apple Cider Vinegar: A great natural source of minerals like calcium, magnesium and potassium, as well as beneficial bacteria and acids. While many people don’t love the strong flavor of vinegar by itself, it is perfect in this recipe when balanced with ginger, honey and lime.
  • Honey: A versatile natural remedy in our house that I use as a face wash, to help speed healing of cuts and burns, and even as a natural sleep aid. Raw honey is a source of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes that makes it a nutrient powerhouse with anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties. It is often recommended for digestive health and there is some evidence that it may benefit the skin when taken internally.
  • Ginger: A powerful natural anti-inflammatory and antioxidant due to the presence of an oil called gingerol. It has a long history of use as a remedy for digestive problems, nausea and illness. In this recipe, it adds both flavor and a slight spicy balance to the sweetness of the honey.
  • Lime: I add some fresh lime juice purely for flavor but it is also a good source of Vitamin C.

Variations to Try

  • Use Molasses: Blackstrap molasses is good for skin and hair. It is a great natural source of Iron, B6, Potassium, Selenium and copper, and often helpful for people who suffer from anemia and have trouble absorbing other sources of iron. It is considered diabetes-friendly and unlike refined sweeteners, it maintains many of the nutrients of the sugar cane. Especially during pregnancy, I switch out the honey in this recipes for some organic blackstrap molasses for the extra nutrients and iron. This is also the lowest-glycemic option for a sweetener.
  • Use Maple Syrup: A good source of antioxidants, manganese and zinc, maple syrup can be used in place of honey in this recipe as well.
  • Use Lemon or Herbs: For flavor, you can use lemon in place of the lime or omit completely. I also love adding other herbs besides just ginger and muddling the fresh leaves for flavor. Some favorite herbs to add are Basil, Lemon Thyme and Rosemary.
  • Seltzer Water: Though regular water is traditionally used in this recipe, seltzer water can give it natural fizz and make it even more refreshing. Since it is typically “aged” overnight in the fridge, I recommend using regular water in the recipe, but only using half as much and then adding the additional as seltzer water when serving.
  • Cinnamon: If you prefer more of an apple-cider flavor, add a few cinnamon sticks to the overnight soak in the fridge in place of the ginger.

How to Make Switchel

Now for the fun part!

No need for a scoby or kefir grains (though I always have those in my kitchen as well). In fact, you likely already have the ingredients for this delicious drink in your kitchen.

4.8 from 25 reviews
Ginger Honey Switchel Recipe
 
Prep time
Total time
 
A fermented drink that combines the benefits of apple cider vinegar, raw honey (or molasses), and ginger for a refreshing and electrolyte drink.
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Serves: 4 cups
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons unfiltered apple cider vinegar with "the mother"
  • 3 tablespoons raw honey or blackstrap molasses (or more to taste)
  • 2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely minced
  • 4 cups of water (or 2 cups water and 2 cups seltzer water if using)
  • ½ of a fresh lime, juice and zest
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients in a large jar, shake well and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  2. To serve, pour over ice or add seltzer water if desired.

Ever heard of Switchel? Ever tried it?
Switchel is an easy-to-make and highly nutritious fermented drink made with apple cider vinegar, honey or molasses and ginger.

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Reader Comments

  1. Does the drink contain probiotic benefits?

    • Yes… the same ones as apple cider vinegar would 🙂

      • Does it ferment overnight in the fridge?

  2. hi
    good morning
    this is very nice
    i drink warm lime and honey water daily empty stomach
    can apple cider also can be mixed in it
    please reply
    thanks

    • Hi, I heard a nutritionist on the radio say that that citric acid (found in lemon) should not be taken together with vinegar (which has acetic acid). Especially if you have a sensitive stomach. Now I don’t know how true this is.

      Basically since we Mexicans (myself) eat of a lot of tomatoes (which contain acetic acid) and tend to add lemon (citric/ascorbic acid), the two don’t mix well and can create havoc in the stomach.

      Honestly I took this advice with a grain of salt, since I tend not to believe what they say on the radio, and I’ve never had any issues. I just wanted to put it out there.

  3. This looks amazing! I already have mine fermenting! Can this be served hot? Thank you!

    • It can, you just don’t want to actually boil it as that might kill some of the beneficial properties in the vinegar and the honey

    • You should not heat honey, especially raw honey above 90 degree F, to prevent destroying the benefits of the honey.

      • are you sure it’s 90 degree F that destroys the enzymes and other active constituents? My understanding is 110-115 degree F is a safe temp range ..

  4. Thank you for this recipe. Sounds amazing can’t wait to try.

  5. Going to have to try this because so far my kombucha starter has not been successful ?, still have another week or so for the timing according to my directions. This seems like a quick and easy way to get a fermented drink and I love anything with ginger! I’ll keep you posted on what I think.

  6. Just to be clear, this is fermented only insofar as it contains AC vinegar, correct? So it’s fermented in the same way as salad dressing is fermented? It’s kind of misleading when you say it “does not have a long fermentation process like kombucha”…in fact, it has no fermentation process whatsoever, unless you’re making your own vinegar, yes? Or am I misreading the instructions? tnx.

    • I am wondering the same thing too, thanks for asking.

    • I’m wondering the same thing. I wouldn’t think it could be fermenting simply left in the fridge overnight.

      • The action of the raw live apple cider vinegar on the honey and ginger will result in slightly more fermentation. I just made it last night but left it on my counter. Love it! My 2 & 4 yr old love it, and our neighbour s children who drink fruit juice all the time really liked it too! I was excites to get some good-bugs and enzymes into them! 🙂 I cut back the raw honey to 2 tablespoons.

  7. What does “Apple cider vinegar with ‘the mother'” mean?

  8. Can powdered ginger be used? How much do you think? I have TONS, I bought on sale from Mountain Rose….

  9. I just made a switchel a couple of weeks ago. Trying to incorporate more Apple Cider Vinegar.
    8C of water
    1/2C of black strap Molasses or a good quality maple syrup or raw unfiltered honey
    1/4C of Apple Cider Vinegar
    1TBS of powedered Ginger or fresh ginger.

    Much better way of taking ACV.
    There was a good video about how this was used as an energy drink for men who worked on ships or in the fields.

    • As a kid on a farm in Vermont in the 50’s and 60’s, we had switchel with us whenever we did the haying. It was great!

  10. Wouldn’t the antibacterial properties in the honey kill any beneficial bacteria? I know you’re not supposed to use honey with water kefir because it will kill the bacteria. Am I wrong? I hope so, as this sounds delicious!

    • That can be an issue with kefir because the culture is more delicate, but some cultures (like those for making Jun) can handle honey just fine and it seems to work in this recipe as well

  11. Thank you for sharing! I can’t wait to try this recipe ?
    One question- is this safe to drink during pregnancy?

    • I drink it while pregnant, but like anything, always check with your DR or midwife if you have concerns…

  12. I woud think that by keeping it in the fridge the ‘fermented’ part is only as a result of the ACV, since it is raw and fermented.

    I wonder what would happen if this were to be left on the counter for a few days, as you would when using a gingerbug, kefir grains or scoby? Actually, that gets me to thinking! I want to try this USING my gingerbug rather than the minced ginger, along with the other ingredients, and leaving it out a few days to see if I can get a good natural ferment carbonation going!

    I will mix this up today and report back, because my ginger bug is going strong right now. 🙂

    • I would be interested to hear how that goes!

      • I mixed this up in a canning jar yesterday morning, and I left it to sit on the counter all day, then when I was prepping dinner I put it on the warm stovetop in amongst the soup and cheese pot. 🙂 I had hoped the extra warmth would speed things along.
        I did take a little taste before bed and it was really nice tasting, but no bubbles yet. So I left it (sealed securely with a canning jar lid) on the floor by a heating vent which is where I second ferment my kombucha for the night, and I’ll give it all of today there and see if there seems to be any action. I think if I could get this to ferment to bubbly it would be a big hit with my boys, and while it was quite sweet with that amount of honey last night, as it ferments, a bit of that sweetness would be taken off, leaving a really nice bubbly drink!

        I am so glad I popped over to your blog and saw this! I will do my own post on my blog and link to yours for the original recipe, and then post it the way I have made it (if this works out like I am hoping it will!).

        • On day two after being near a heating vent in the sealed jar all day, it was super bubbly, very much like an extra fizzy kombucha. I already have another jar going. 🙂

          I will do a blog post on this, since it worked so well with the warm ferment to get bubbles. I also omitted the limes because I didn’t have any. I will definitely experiment with fruits (and maybe even some veggies!) added though.

          • Well done on that idea, it sounds great and will try myself!

          • Jillian do you mind sharing where to find your blog as I don’t have much refrigerator room and would love to do it on the counter top?

          • That is brilliant Jillian. I ran to the Grocery store this morning when I read this recipe and especially your comments. I have my girlfriend trying it too. 🙂

    • Jillian, what is a gingerbug?

  13. Love this idea, thanks for sharing!
    Just to clarify, when using acv with the mother, do you add the mother to this mix as well? Or just use acv that has the mother in it?
    Thanks in advance. Sorry if it seems a stupid question x

    • Just an ACV that has the mother in it, because this means it is a living culture.

  14. Oh my goodness, my grandmother used to make switchel for my grandfather when he was coming down with a cold. I’ve been asking for years but no-one in the family had the recipe or remembered it.

    Thank-you so much! I am so looking forward to the taste and the smell of scwitchel (she was from a German background and pronounced it schwizzle).

  15. Do you have to drink the full four cups in one day for the full benefit? If not, how much?

  16. Great post! Will have to try this. Does the ACV continue to ferment? It would be nice to have it develop its own bubbles like the kombucha. Regardless sounds healthy and refreshing.

    • I’m not sure as mine has never lasted more than a couple of days in the fridge, but it does seem to get more tangy/bubbly after the first 12 hours or so, so it might

  17. If you want a truly fermented, fizzy, slightly sweet drink, try water kefir. I make mine with plain water and sugar or herbal tea and sugar. Sometimes I do a secondary ferment with a dried apricot or adding sour cherry juice (this is supposed to make it fizzier but doesn’t always work). Sometimes I add ginger. It’s never the same thing twice! It is shocking how different batches can be (which some people may not like). Switchel and milk kefir and kombucha turn out pretty much the same way every time….sure, the longer you let it go, the sourer it gets. But if you like variety and having no control over the final result, try water kefir! 😉

  18. Wouldn’t the antibacterial properties of the honey kill the beneficial bacteria in the vinegar? I know you can’t use honey in water kefir because of this…. ?

  19. I’ve made Switchel for years! Our whole family loves it. We’ve been War of 1812 re-enactors for nearly 11 years now and I bring a batch of it along to every event and it’s always a hit with the men; just like in Little House, it’s great to drink your fill when you’re working hard in the sun all day 🙂

  20. How long will this keep?

    • Yes, if it’s fermented, does that mean it will keep a long time?

  21. Must break in with a comment on your recommendation One Thousand Gifts be Ann Voskamp. This is one of the best reads in a very long time. I sit reading with pen and notepad in hand. Can’t wait to get started on my own list. Powerful, worth sharing with your spouse, a real game changer. Thanks.

  22. I found another article yesterday about Switchel…a word I hadn’t heard from probably 55 years! My mother always made it for my dad to take to the hay field every day to keep him hydrated in the hot sun…like people use Gatorade today! I’m definitely going to make some. Thanks!

  23. This is such a timely post as I just shared my Switchel recipe with a good friend. I personally prefer flavor of blackstrap molasses (I tend to be borderline anemic too!). Just as you noted lemon thyme is a nice addition, as is lemon balm. I suggest a microplane for the ginger – quick and potent.
    I consider Switchel my version of “sweet tea” as it share some similar flavor qualities. Hydrating and soothing to the stomach.

  24. Made my first batch last night! I used 1 TBSP black strap molasses + 2 TBSP raw honey.

    A question before I drink it – are you meant to strain it first? It has lots of little floaty bits of minced ginger in it : )

  25. This sounds pretty close to the “Good Girl Moonshine” that Trim Healthy Mama has, but more natural and not using stevia.

    Yum!

  26. Is there a substitute for the ACV? Can I use coconut vinegar? Or what about the liquid that separates from yogurt (whey)? I read all the Laura Ingalls’ books and loved them, too. 🙂

  27. Hi there Everyone. I feel like I am in my second Heaven when reading all the comments, checking out the links of Ginger Honey Switchel Recipe, the Ginger Bug, reading about Little House which I also grew up with. I am 64 years old, pensioner, female and love this Blog. I am into Kefir Milk and making Kefir Milk Cream Cheese, Kombucha, Blackstrap Molasses, Apple Cider Vinegar with the Mother, Bone Broth and Gelatine. Also Epsom Salts. This is my Christmas Gift to you all and it does work. I got it for Free and that is why I am giving it to you Free. I use 8 teaspoons of Epsom Salts in One Liter of cold, boiled water. Shake it up and drink One Tablespoon of the water each morning and I have been FREE of the arthritis in my hands for more than a year and no medication. I keep it next to my kettle so as to remember to take it. It is so mild it does not give you the runs. Regards Frances from Sunny South Africa

    • That’s terrific. I will follow your morning routine because I suffer from constipation. I live with Candida so my diet is very good.
      Thanks for the tip Frances.

  28. I love this drink! I make double batches every few days. Thank you

  29. Can Apple Cider Vinegar with the mother be purchased at any health food store? I use Braggs… Thanks!

  30. I have everything on hand and am so excited to try this!! Thanks Katie, you are the best!

    • Thanks for reading… hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

  31. Is it possible to maintain a semi-continuous brew of switchel, either on the counter or in the fridge?

    More specifically, I’m wondering if it’s possible to make a large batch in a 5-gallon glass container with a spigot and allow it to sit (and continue fermenting) for about a week as it is used.

    Would a semi-continuos brew be safe, especially considering the bacteria? If so, is ok to leave on the counter (to continue fermenting) or should it be stored in the fridge?

    Thank you!

    • I typically make a large batch and keep it in the fridge to drink throughout the week. I’m not sure about keeping it out at room temp – I probably wouldn’t; however I find switchel to taste best cold anyhow.

  32. I’ve made this a few times now and it’s so delicious and refreshing. Also I have been looking for more palatable ways to drink red raspberry leaf tea…. Id like to hear anyone’s thoughts on substituting this tea for the water in this recipe. 🙂 🙂 🙂

  33. I made my first batch last night. Drinking my first glass as we speak. I have to say this is delicious!
    My new favorite morning drink! 🙂

  34. Can you reuse the ginger after straining it? If so what suggestions do you have.
    Thank you.

    • Most of the valuable nutrients will have been expelled from the ginger (like the vegetables when you make bone broth) and I’m not sure it would taste the same.

      • I have occasionally poured the switchel off and added more water, ACV and honey to the same ginger if I’m in a rush, but the first go around is always the best flavour, and I’m sure Katie is right, it would be the most healtful too. Having said that, if for some reason you are limited to the amount of ginger you have, I think you can safely do a second batch, recognizing that it won’t be as good as the first. I personally wouldn’t do more than two batches with the same ginger though.

  35. Hi. Can this be drank while breastfeeding? (He is 5 months and still solely nursing)
    I have recently started oil pulling and using coconut oil in general for lots of stuff, and wanted to add this!

    • I personally drink this while nursing as all of the ingredients are foods that I would consume anyway but check with a doc or midwife if you are concerned.

  36. Im not sure how I ever missed this post,..! My grandmother used to make this for my father and uncles when they were doing hay. About 2 years ago he requested it, so I whipped some up, and of course I had to try it before serving it. Im not a big vinegar fan, so I was a little apprehensive, but I tried it and I loved it. (Our family recipe is a little bit different) after drinking it daily (about a quart) I started noticing changes, like I no longer ached from arthritis like I was 80 yrs old, my acne cleared up, my eczema / psoriasis was gone, no more headaches, energy levels were up, no more overwhelming sugar cravings, and I was losing weight in my midsection, which is something I had struggled with for a really, really long time. It has been 2 years, and I have lost almost 100 lbs. *Something worth mentioning also,.. be cautious of using metal with the vinegar. I use a mason jar with the plastic lid, and if I do have to use a metal lid / ring I use waxed paper to make sure the vinegar does not make contact with the metal. Also a few cranks of sea salt really enhances the flavor!

    • I would love to hear your recipe too!

    • Brenda, would you share your recipe and how you take it? I’d love the recipe that has enabled the weight loss.

    • can you share the recipe.

  37. this is amazing… i love your blog and podcast! i was going to make some switchel today, and i wondered to myself if you had any recipes posted. OF COURSE you do. you’re everything.

    congrats on being awesome katie!! this recipe looks amazing and perfect for summer.

  38. Can you clarify the lime…is it just half a lime and the zest or do you throw in the whole remaining lime after squeezing it? Can’t wait to try this!

    • I zest the whole thing and use the juice of half (and save the other half for drinking in water or something).

  39. This recipe is great! I just made it for the first time last night and have been enjoying it all day today!

  40. Could we use yogurt whey instead of ACV? I have a lot from making yogurt..

    • You probably could, it would definitely change the taste though.

  41. Our recipe is similar, but different, and tastes very much like ginger kombucha. In a quart jar put about two cups of warm water. Stir in 2T of honey. Fill half way with ice. Add one, very level tsp. of dried, organic ginger, add about 1 and 3/4 Tablespoon of Braggs apple cider vinegar. Fill to almost the top (maybe an inch from the neck) of the jar with water. Stir well, stir or swirl as you drink to stir up the ginger. Fresh ginger would work, but it would have to steep overnight. Sip it all day!

  42. I finally made this. Didn’t have limes so I used lemon juice. I let it steep for a couple of days at room temperature. It developed bubbles and was a very refreshing drink. My second batch is brewing!

  43. WOW!! I’ve made this several times. Had no idea it had a name. I love it! Great for stomach issues, appetite suppressant, I sleep like a baby. I just ” feel” better since I’ve been drinking it . Yesterday I had a fresh batch…had just poured the first glass.. And then disaster… I dropped the jar… The glass jar! I literally cried! So I started a new batch. But now that my big jar is gone… Can I store it in something beside glass? Like a BPA free container? Just temporally until I can find another large jar.

  44. Just made it! Thanks so much! Never heard of this stuff before, but I am willing to try it since all the ingredients are favorites of mine! 🙂 I’m hoping this will help with my digestive issues and morning sickness I’ve been having since being pregnant with my 3rd child. 🙂 Can’t wait to try it tomorrow morning!

  45. Lovely recipe! I’ve been growing my own ginger since last year (I have too much ginger now!) and am always on the lookout for new recipes with ginger in them. Would love to try your ginger honey switchel too. Thanks for sharing!
    Donna

  46. Has anyone added minced turmeric to their recipe in addition to the ginger??

  47. I let it ferment in a sealed, dark glass, quart bottle for about 2 weeks at room temp. I relieve the gas pressure every day or so. This produces a very tangy, fizzy drink when refrigerated and generally produces a mother. I also include both cinnamon and ginger. At the end of the process, I filter everything through brown coffee filters, into a quart mason jar, and don’t use any metal tools throughout the whole mixing and fermentation.

  48. Even the kids liked it. I used lemon instead of lime and it tasted like ginger lemonade

  49. My husband got a bottle of Switchel from our local food co-op. He liked it so much he began doing a little research and found this post. Now our whole family loves it…and two of my kids (12 and 10 years old) are the ones that made it. So easy and so good! Thanks for posting.

  50. We make this at home all the time and it’s the only fermented drink my daughter will let pass her lips. They did a pioneer unit at school, including reading Little House on the Prairie, that was capped off with a potluck lunch. We made haymaker’s punch as our contribution and all of the kids enjoyed it so much they asked me to make it for another potluck later in the year.

  51. This is the best drink ever. I have a little assembly line with multiple bottles on the countertop. It develops a deeper flavor and gets bubblier after a couple of days.