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Refreshing Ginger Honey Switchel Recipe

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How to make honey ginger switchel
Wellness Mama » Blog » Recipes » Drink Recipes » Refreshing Ginger Honey Switchel Recipe

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 fermenting.

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 is 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. I get mine here.
  • 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 antiviral and antibacterial 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. Ginger root is found in most grocery stores and its skin can be peeled off easily with the edge of a spoon.
  • Lime: I add some fresh lime juice purely for flavor but it is also a good source of vitamin C.

Switchel Variations to Try

  • With 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 sugar cane. Especially during pregnancy, I switch out the honey in this recipe for some organic blackstrap molasses for the extra nutrients and iron. This is also the lowest glycemic option for a sweetener.
  • With maple syrup: A good source of antioxidants, manganese, and zinc, use maple syrup in place of honey.
  • Using 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.
  • With 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 refrigerator, I recommend using regular water in the recipe, but only using half as much and then adding the additional as seltzer water when serving.
  • With cinnamon: If you prefer more of an apple-cider flavor, add a few cinnamon sticks to the overnight soak in the refrigerator in place of the ginger.

Just talking about it makes me want to get up and go start a batch!

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.

Here’s how to make ginger switchel:

How to make honey ginger switchel

Ginger Honey Switchel Recipe

A fermented drink that combines the benefits of apple cider vinegar, raw honey (or molasses), and ginger for a refreshing and electrolyte drink.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 12 hours 5 minutes
Calories 59kcal
Author Katie Wells

Servings

4 cups

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Mix all ingredients in a large jar, cover, and shake well.
  • Place in the refrigerator overnight.
  • To serve, pour over ice or add seltzer water if desired.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Ginger Honey Switchel Recipe
Amount Per Serving (1 cup)
Calories 59 Calories from Fat 1
% Daily Value*
Fat 0.1g0%
Sodium 8mg0%
Carbohydrates 15.4g5%
Fiber 0.4g2%
Sugar 13.3g15%
Protein 0.2g0%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Notes

If using seltzer water, only add half the amount of listed water to the jar. Add the other half as seltzer water when serving. 

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Ever heard of switchel? Ready to try it with your family?

Switchel is an easy-to-make and highly nutritious fermented drink made with apple cider vinegar, honey or molasses and ginger.

Sources
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.

Comments

132 responses to “Refreshing Ginger Honey Switchel Recipe”

  1. Michelle Avatar

    5 stars
    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 🙂

  2. Molly Avatar

    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…. ?

  3. Melanie Avatar

    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! 😉

  4. Marie S Avatar

    5 stars
    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.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      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

  5. Jill Avatar

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

  6. Judith Avatar

    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).

  7. Hanna Avatar

    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

  8. Jillian Avatar

    4 stars
    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. 🙂

      1. Jillian Avatar

        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!).

        1. Jillian Avatar

          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.

          1. Sue Kelland Avatar
            Sue Kelland

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

          2. Eileen Avatar

            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?

          3. victoria Avatar
            victoria

            5 stars
            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. 🙂

  9. Heather Thelin Avatar
    Heather Thelin

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

  10. MollyP Avatar

    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!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      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. Lisa Avatar

    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.

    1. Susie Avatar

      5 stars
      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!

  12. Lea Avatar

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

  13. Melanie Avatar

    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.

    1. Natalie Avatar

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

      1. marie Avatar

        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.

  14. Dale Avatar

    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.

  15. Lindsey Avatar

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

    1. Katy Ribadulla Avatar
      Katy Ribadulla

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

      1. claire Avatar

        5 stars
        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 ..

  16. Tarlochan Azad Avatar
    Tarlochan Azad

    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

    1. Christina Avatar
      Christina

      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.

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