Spoiler alert: In this post I disclose my secret switchel recipe!
Our local weekly newspaper News & Citizen has an article by Caleigh Cross about switchel: Switch-el up your fall libations. (The article was on page 23 of the October 4, 2018 print edition with the headline "Try some booze-less brews this fall".) Yay for switchel!
The article is also about apple cider, which is better known than switchel, but I'm just going to write about switchel. If you aren't familiar with why I am excited about switchel – to the point of calling myself "The Switchel Blogger" – see my About page on my other blog, The Switchel Philosopher.
When I was working at Yankee Farm Credit, I was known for a few things outside the job. One was switchel. When I retired in December 2016, CoBank gave me a supply of Susan Alexander's Vermont Switchel made in Hardwick, which is discussed in the News & Citizen article. A customer from southern Vermont gave me a supply of Up Mountain Switchel, originally made in southern Vermont and now made in New York.
Another thing I was known for at work, outside of the job, was my interest in the physicist Richard Feynman (1918-1988). My executive assistant gave me a Feynman glass as a retirement gift. The photo above is my homemade switchel in that Feynman glass. The fall vegetables in the photo are from Nancy's garden and the Gingue Farm in Waterford (another Yankee Farm Credit connection, as Paul Gingue was chairperson of the board of directors for several years when I was CEO).
Richard Feynman did not drink alcohol, and perhaps he would have appreciated Caleigh Cross's article which begins:
Hops and suds might wash over our region like liquid gold, but for people who prefer non-boozy brews, there are plenty of options. Try non-alcoholic cider made fresh from New England apples, or wash down a long day’s hiking, biking or running with a sip of Vermont-born switchel.
WCAX television has a "Made in Vermont" series. In July 2013 they featured Vermont Switchel and Susan Alexander. By coincidence my family and I were at the facility in Hardwick, picking up a case of switchel that was a birthday present from my daughter, on the day that WCAX interviewed Susan. I was included in the segment for about 10 seconds saying that Susan's switchel was better than my mother's! Susan Alexander makes good switchel.
One of the fun things about making switchel yourself is trying diverse ingredients, especially different vinegars. My mother made her own vinegar from maple sap. I once found some pomegranate vinegar that made very tasty switchel.
Here's my current recipe to make a half gallon of switchel: a short 1/2 cup of maple syrup from my brother's farm, grade amber rich; a long 1/2 cup of unpasteurized and unfiltered Vermont Village apple cider vinegar; 1/2 tsp ground ginger; 1 tsp lime juice; add water to make a half gallon. Refrigerate.