Switchel is the original sports drink!

My current switchel recipe

  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • add water to make 1/2 gallon and refrigerate

I use maple syrup from the Putnam Family Farm in Cambridge, Vermont, run by my brother and nephew. That is where I grew up. (I still live in the same town, but not on the farm.) If you can get it, that’s the best maple syrup! If you can’t get it, any real Vermont maple syrup will do. Or, in a pinch, real maple syrup from elsewhere.

The vinegar matters a great deal. I usually use unfiltered and unpasteurized apple cider vinegar from either Vermont Village (Barre, Vermont) or Dwight Miller Orchards (Dummerston, Vermont). Bragg apple cider vinegar is also good, but I prefer a Vermont product over a California product when possible.

Proportions can be varied to suit taste. I sometimes go a little light on the maple syrup and a little strong on the vinegar in summer, and the other way around in winter.

My mother’s switchel recipe

My mother made switchel by the gallon, and her recipe was simple:

  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • add water and ice to make a gallon and send it to the hayfield

She used the same maple syrup that I use. The Putnams have been making maple syrup from the same hillside in Cambridge, Vermont, since the 1860s.

She made her own vinegar from maple sap. I don’t have that talent, but such a product is commercially available now. One source is the Maple Guild.