Did you ever wonder what folks used to drink in the days before soda pop, and when lemons or limes were out of season? Before Coke and Gatorade, hardworking farmers in colonial days turned to Haymaker's Tea (or Switchel) for refreshment. This was the drink of choice for workers out in the field who wanted to cool off with something with a bit more of a kick than just plain old well water. It was thought that ginger-water would quinch their thirst and not make the workers sick, as plain cold water would, when they tended to drink excessively from being so hot.
1/2 cup sugar or honey (I used honey, because I love bees! Always wanted to be a bee keeper.)
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 cup oatmeal (optional) (didn't use this!)
Tap water to make 2 quarts (You'll need to add approximately 6 1/2 cups of water---for a total of 8 cups to make 2 quarts)
Molasses provides additional healthful nutrients said to combat diabetes and weight gain, as well as aid in building muscle strength. Diabetics in particular need to control their blood glucose fluctuations by limiting refined sugars in their diet. Using blackstrap molasses rather than regular molasses adds extra calcium, potassium, iron and B vitamins. No wonder haymakers benefited from this drink! You can learn more about molasses' health benefits here: http://www.ehow.com/facts_4809658_health-benefits-molasses.html
I was surprised that I actually enjoyed the taste of this concoction. If the proportions are done right, it is well balanced and refreshing. The molasses and ginger add the flavour, and the resulting taste reminds me of my favorite organic ginger candy (available at Kroger's organic department): "Ginger Chews." The candy contains diced baby ginger root, raw cane sugar & nothing else, but it is oh so yummy!
According to Reed's the recipe is an ancient one that hasn’t changed much through time. After harvesting baby ginger (the most tender kind), the root is diced and then steeped in large vats filled with simmering raw cane syrup. Steeping for several days, the ginger is then removed and allowed to crystallize into soft, delicious nuggets. Reed’s claims that their Crystallized Ginger is the only one they've found that is sweetened with raw cane instead of white sugar. Here's a sample:
Now, Here is a treasured old recipe that one of my three sisters taught me: Lazy Day Lemonade. ("Lazy" because you don't have to spend all day squeezing lemons to make it!) It's not only EASY, it's refreshing, cold, and delicious. On a hot afternoon my hubby especially enJOYs it while gardening or sitting under a shade tree. You may recall that I included this recipe in a past blog with a Lemon Cheesecake. If you want to read all about lemons and get a bonus cheesecake recipe, you can do so here:
Here's what you'll need to make the lemonade: In a 1-gallon container, combine 1 1/2 cups Real Lemon lemon juice (or the Kroger or Wal-Mart bottled juices work well, too) along with 2 1/2 cups sugar and 1 large lemon sliced or chunked. Fill the container half-way to the top with cold water. Replace the lid and shake well or stir well to mix (if you don't have a lid :-). Fill all the way to the top with water and mix again. Refrigerate until cold. Serve over ice. (Mix well before pouring into glasses.) EnJOY!
Switchel (or Haymaker's Tea)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 cup molasses
1/2 cup sugar or honey
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 cup oatmeal (optional)
tap water to make 2 quarts
First get out a two quart pitcher or a mixing bowl. Measure the vinegar, molasses, sugar or honey and ginger into it. Add cold tap water to bring to two quarts. Stir to dissolve everything and serve in tall ice-filled glasses. Garnish with mint or a lemon wedge. Traditionally, oatmeal was also added to the mixture, to give it a little body, and improve the flavor, but this is certainly optional. This beverage is strongly flavored, nothing bland about it. It tastes best when it has mellowed overnight, blending the ginger with the molasses. It does quench your thirst better than anything else on a hot summer day though, and of course, costs next to nothing to prepare.
Pineapple Banana Punch
1 12 oz. frozen lemonade, slightly thawed
1 (or two) 12 oz. frozen orange juice, slightly thawed
1 46 oz. canned pineapple juice
2 - 4 cups sugar, (depending on how sweet you want this)
8 cups water
5-6 smashed bananas
3- 2L bottles of 7-Up, Sprite, or Sierra Mist (one bottle for each frozen portion)
Combine water and sugar. Boil 5 minutes, cool. Add orange juice and lemonade. Blend and add pineapple juice and bananas. Combine all ingredients and pour into 3 1/2 gallon containers. Freeze and use as the punch base. Thaw each container 4 hours before serving. To each 1/2 gallon base add 1 2-liter 7-up. One base mixed with a 7-up makes 16- 8 oz. servings. (If you forget to thaw the container before serving, pour the soda (7-Up) over the punch in a punch bowl and allow to sit for about 15 minutes. Use a skewer or large knife to break apart the frozen mixture until it is slushy and ready to serve.)
This can also be made all at once and not frozen, but it's best if slushy, in my humble opinion. :-) Dress up the punch with mint or citrus ice cubes. To make decorative cubes, fill the compartments of an ice cube tray with lime, lemon, and/or orange slices (halve or quarter slices to fit). Fill with water or punch. Freeze until firm.
Lazy Day Lemonade
In a 1-gallon container, combine lemon juice along with sugar and sliced or chunked lemon. Fill the container half-way to the top with cold water. Replace the lid and shake well or stir well to mix (if you don't have a lid :-). Fill all the way to the top with water and mix well again. Refrigerate until cold. Shake to mix before serving over ice. EnJOY!