switchel. not only a fun word to say, apropos of nothing, but also my new favorite refreshing summer drink. it’s easy to make and contains both ginger and maple syrup (two of my favorites). in other words, i was destined to love it.
well, at least i thought i probably was: the other ingredient (besides water) is apple cider vinegar and while i know the whole internet is super into drinking vinegar (google it if you don’t believe me), that fact alone basically makes me inherently a little bit skeptical about the whole thing (don’t even get me started on coconut oil…).
now don’t get me wrong, i’ve tried my fair share of probably-harmless-but-questionably-helpful things that are popular online (apple cider vinegar on my skin didn’t clear it up nearly as much as it made me smell like a salad), but, happily, there’s a reason drinking vinegar is so popular. at least in this case, it’s delicious.
i can’t vouch for all of the drinking vinegar recipes you may find online or for the health benefits of drinking vinegar, but i can promise that if you like ginger and maple syrup and things that perfectly straddle that sweet-tart-spicy line, you will likely enjoy switchel.
also, if you recently tried for the first time and surprised yourself by liking ginger kombucha, then you will probably enjoy switchel (you know, hypothetically. if that applies to you.). it’s not fizzy like kombucha, but it has that same spicy-tart flavor. and since you are making it yourself, you get to decide how intense the ginger flavor will be, based on how long you leave the ginger in to steep.
beyond intensifying the ginger flavor, i also found that letting the mixture steep for longer lets the flavors blend and made the flavor of the switchel smoother and more integrated. i don’t think one version is better than the other, it’s more about your personal preference.
after 3 hours, the flavors were fairly distinct: there was a spicy burn of ginger at first, followed by a mild maple flavor. after 24 hours (with the ginger steeping), there was more ginger flavor, but less ginger burn. the maple flavor was not as noticeable as its own distinct flavor. hopefully that helps guide you towards the flavor profile you will most enjoy.
or you can do what i’m doing and make a slightly different batch every time – i still can’t decide which version i like best! but i’ll happily keep experimenting, especially as the weather continues to heat up…
i’m trying a new thing, a section called ‘what else we’re eating’. scroll past the recipe to see it and let me know what you think in the comments.
- 16 fl. oz. (2 cups) water
- 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoons real maple syrup, see notes
- 2 – 2 ½ teaspoons freshly grated ginger
- pro tip: grating ginger is way easier when you peel the ginger (my oxo peeler is sharp enough to make easy work of this), throw it in an airtight container, and store it in the freezer. grating frozen ginger on a microplane zester is much easier than grating non-frozen ginger on the small holes of a box grater. when measuring out the frozen, freshly grated ginger, be sure to pack it into the measuring spoon, as it tends to be quite fluffy and you don’t want to under measure it here.
- combine water, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, and ginger in a large jar with a tight fitting lid. close the lid tightly and shake to mix thoroughly. refrigerate for 3 to 24 hours with the ginger in the mixture (see narrative above for details on how the flavor changes).
- when the desired intensity of ginger flavor has been reached, shake again then strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer; discard the ginger pulp. store the switchel in the refrigerator, shake before serving, and serve cold.
i love the flavor of maple syrup so i always use grade B, now known as “grade A: dark color and robust flavor” (because that’s a more convenient title…) but if you aren’t as keen on maple flavor, you could use a lighter grade maple syrup here.
adapted from the switchel recipe in the may-june 2017 issue of fresh magazine from hannaford, the grocery store chain. (what, you thought a brooklyn hipster whispered this recipe in my ear?)
what else we’re eating:
my friends (and my husband) are constantly remarking on my ability to plan meals. i tend to respond with a version of “oh, thanks, it’s nothing…” and feel total imposter syndrome when i contemplate the idea of offering any sort of meal planning… service? recommendation? i don’t even know. but i can totally tell you what else i’m cooking this week and offer commentary on it. in turn, i hope you’ll let me know if this is helpful.
garlic mustard glaze for grilled chicken from smitten kitchen: i first made this glaze 2 years ago and it’s a recipe i keep coming back to, especially in the summer, because it’s simple (i just use chicken breasts – none of this chopping raw chicken and threading it on skewers for me, thanks) and delicious (as long as you like mustard). verdict: green light (of course, because it’s smitten kitchen)
rhubarb and radish salad from bon appetit: i’ve been on the lookout for savory rhubarb recipes lately (and found one that i am in LOVE with that i’m sharing with you later this week!) and decided to give this one a try. meh. if you don’t like the tang of raw rhubarb, i will say straight up stay away from this one. if you *do* like it, maaaybe try this – but definitely cut the rhubarb into nearly paper thin slices against the grain, NOT into matchsticks like the recipe instructs.
i made the mistake of following the directions (ha! for once…) and my husband likened the result to chewing on bamboo chopsticks soaked in lemon juice. i liked the flavor of the whole thing but agreed that the aggressive chewy/stringiness of the raw rhubarb is not delicious.
i’m seriously considering throwing the leftovers into a savory galette and crossing my fingers, because i just don’t want to chew that much more raw rhubarb for the next few days… verdict: yellow light
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