Today’s oppressive heat reminded my grandmother of summers from her childhood. She grew up on a dairy farm, and she told us that when the weather was hot like this, the children brought the men haying in the field a drink of water with soaked oatmeal. We didn’t think that we wanted to try that particular drink (although tomorrow is supposed to be hot also, so who knows), but we decided to try another drink that revived farmers in the hay field: switchel. She drank switchel for years, after reading about it in the book Folk Medicine: A Vermont Doctor’s Guide to Good Health by Dr. Jarvis. In addition to refreshing farmers in the hayfield, Dr. Jarvis promoted it as a healthy drink. I have Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinegar, which gives a recipe for switchel using maple syrup, honey, or molasses.
We thought it would be fun to do a taste test using both the maple syrup and the honey. We filled glasses about three-quarters full of cold water, then added 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of honey into the first glass, and 1 tablespoon of vinegar and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup into the second glass. We then stirred the drinks and added some ice.
While both were good, we preferred the honey. It had a lighter, more refreshing taste.
G also got in on the action, measuring and stirring his own glass. He took a sip before the ice was added, and did not care for it. But after it was cool he decided “Switchel is so good. I want to drink some every day!” I can remember my grandparents drinking switchel, and offering some to me, when I was younger. I thought they were crazy for drinking vinegar, and refused to even try it. It looks like G is more adventurous than I am!
If you decide to try this drink (it took me about 30 years to warm up to the idea), make sure you use good vinegar. We like Bragg’s.