Wednesday, February 9, 2011

hay time switchel

Hay Time Switchel was a popular drink in New England once. It was the original Gatorade for farmers. A homebrew of various potent sources of protein and sugar (maple syrup, molasses, eggs, cider, vinegar, ginger, honey, and cane sugar: among other regional ingredients) and together they created a lasting source of hydration and stamina for men working from dawn into the full moon to bring in the hay. It was quite the thing.

I have created my own Switchel here at Cold Antler, and while the ingredients are different the effect is the same. I make a combination of really, really, strong green Yerba Mate green tea,100% fruit juice, and raw honey. I make it in giant two gallon pots and then let it cool in the fridge. I then bottle it into beer bottles, cap it, and set it in the fridge. These switchels then are ready to be drank as a booster when I come inside from morning chores (so refreshing cold) or this morning, I still am fighting a cold so I poured a bottle into my giant brown mug and heated it up for two minutes and added more honey and lemon. It did the trick.

Yerba Mate isn't like coffee or tea. It's an herb from South America and bought loose and green it brews just like coffee in your percolator. I brew it strong, almost brown, and pour two coffee pots of it into a stainless steel saucepan before I add my can of berry juice concentrate and a half cup of honey from my bees. It is a true natural energy source. Yerba Mate doesn't give you that jolt like coffee (something I still adore but drink much less of) instead it slowly rises you up to a calmer state of awareness.You just feel like it's four hours before you drank it. Refreshed.

So there's something to consider. Either digging up some ancient Switchel recipes and trying them out instead of buying corn syrup and food coloring, or giving Yerba Mate a try. It's pretty awesome.


Blogger Unknown said...

I love healthy alternatives.

February 9, 2011 at 6:56 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I have some ancient Switchel recipes! Yours sounds tasty too. Stay warm!

February 9, 2011 at 6:57 AM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Today I was listening to a young artist that is "new to me" and I thought of you. Have you heard the music of Josh Garrels? I think you would like

February 9, 2011 at 7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting. I'd never heard of switchel before - must look it up.
Good idea to have it on hand for a needed energy boost!

February 9, 2011 at 7:40 AM  
Blogger Chestnut Farm said...

So interesting you brought that up...I am in the process of writing a cookbook, including many family recipes and my own. I came across a note written on a card by my grandma,(she and my grandpa were Farmers in Michigan). The note said, "Dad's Drink": 1 large glass of water, 1 heaping tsp. each of cider vingar, blackstrap molasses, honey, brewers yeast and Juice of 1 lemon... let's just say...he lived to be 96 years old! Think they were on to something! : )

February 9, 2011 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger treehuggers kitchen said...

I tried some switchel at the Common Ground Fair, here in Maine, this summer. I liked it. Not something I could drink a lot of, but a nice change just the same.

February 9, 2011 at 8:45 AM  
Blogger Bob said...

This is the switchel recipe that I use.,173,149183-245193,00.html

February 9, 2011 at 9:04 AM  
Blogger katiegirl said...

Sounds like a nice blend, Jenna. I sometimes mix 8 oz water, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar (Braggs), and a little honey. It's a good pick-me-up. And apples are good at that too, an apple in the morning will wake you up better than a cup of coffee!

February 9, 2011 at 9:18 AM  
Blogger Paula said...

I took a look to see if what if any side effects might be experienced with mate because of my high blood pressure, and several sites said that it does elevate blood pressure, but the thing I thought I should pass along was that several sites also said that frequent or excessive use leads to various cancers, especially of the head, neck, and throat (curious!), so just be aware of how much you're getting. None of them said how much was frequent or excessive, though!

I'll be thinking about switchels for this coming growing season, though, so thanks for the idea!

February 9, 2011 at 9:28 AM  
Blogger Jenna Woginrich said...

wow....not good Paula. I have been swilling this stuff, I didn't know...

well, back to iced coffee!

February 9, 2011 at 9:39 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Have you had roasted yerba mate? It has a very coffee-like flavour. I like it, but it's very different from regular yerba mate.

A friend from Uraguay introduced me to yerba mate. She told me the people there always have yerba mate with them. They carry with them a special satchel with the gourd and stainless steel straw so they are never without.

February 9, 2011 at 9:59 AM  
Blogger Debi said...

Jenna, you may want to do Google search on the side effects of Mate before dumping all your switchel. I panicked when I saw the last comment, as I've been drinking Mate for years, but the only evidence of cancer I found was esophageal cancer, that was linked to the Mate being too hot. I saw a similar study that also cited coffee and other teas. I'm going to continue my search, but so far that's all I can find.

February 9, 2011 at 10:03 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

In my recreation/reenactment circles, frequently a drink called Sekanjabin is used as an alternative to sports drinks. More on it can be found here:

You can make up the syrup before hand and then mix with water.

You'd think drinking anything with vinegar in it would be a bit gross, but on a scorching summer day, after coming out of padding and plate armor, there's not much that can top it.

February 9, 2011 at 11:48 AM  
Blogger Robbie Grey said...

I usually have a cup of mate a day. Good stuff.

February 9, 2011 at 12:05 PM  
Blogger miss lady*cakes said...

thank you!
i already love yerba mate, and i will definitely give this a try ASAP!

i love when you share ordinary tidbits of your daily life like this:)

thanks again.

February 9, 2011 at 12:15 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

I also wouldn't be quick to dismiss mate. Coffee is no better, especially if it is not organic (all the chemicals, etc).

February 9, 2011 at 12:43 PM  
Blogger Christa said...

Now I am very curious about switchel. I can't wait to call my Great Grandmother (she is 97) and ask her all about it.

Love your blog and look forward to it everyday Jenna!

February 9, 2011 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Mama said...

I really like a couple tablespoons of apple cider vinegar (like Bragg's) in a tall glass of water. I don't know what it is about it, but it always makes my insides feel good, my thirst is quenched, and it is a better pick-up than coffee (though I am an unabashed coffee-holic).

February 9, 2011 at 2:59 PM  
Blogger becky3086 said...

I have made Switchel before for my boyfriend who, at the time, waa a roofer. It actually worked really well but he didn't appreciate the taste too much.

February 9, 2011 at 3:25 PM  
Blogger Jo said...

Now all you need is the pottery container used in the 1830's for just such a beverage. It hangs on the fencepost just waiting for you. You might want to try raspberry shrub as well. Much tastier. See for the recipe and the container.

February 9, 2011 at 3:37 PM  
Blogger Andy said...

Homemade Root Beer, Soda, and Pop by Stephen Cresswell is a good book on old fashioned homemade drinks. There are various recipes for root and birch beers. Plus a recipe for molasses switchel.

February 9, 2011 at 4:24 PM  
Blogger Maui Folksy said...

Have you tried adding coconut water? It is nature's Gatorade

February 9, 2011 at 11:40 PM  
Blogger City Sister said...

They talk about it in the little house the cold water doesn't upset your stomach when you are so hot...and to relive heat stroke! I guess the sugar and other additives help slow the digestion. I think they used honey, vinegar, and ginger.

February 10, 2011 at 5:33 AM  
Blogger Matt_Middleton said...

Sounds interesting! Definitely will have to try this.

February 10, 2011 at 10:57 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

My dad and uncles would drink the old vinegar, maple syrup based switchel during hay season. They once tricked me into drinking it, and I guess it's an acquired taste that they swore by.

February 10, 2011 at 3:48 PM  
Blogger jenn said...

I am going to try it! Thanks

February 10, 2011 at 6:26 PM  
Blogger Amber said...

You are so inspiring. I recently read Made From Scratch and it changed my life. I know that sounds rather dramatic, but it's true I guess I am infected. Thank you for doing what you do.

February 11, 2011 at 8:26 PM  
Blogger LMM in Idaho said...

You mention your bees. Honey. Where do you keep them on your property over the winter? Do you order a new queen in the spring? Plans for more hives?

February 11, 2011 at 9:20 PM  

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