The Haymaker's Drink (or Switchel or Ginger Ale or Swaggel)

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P.O. Box420l59 Kanarraville, Utah 84742

The best way I could think of to thank the many people who sent me recipes for The Haymaker's Drink (or Switchel or Ginger Ale or Swaggel), and to thank the magazines who printed my request for information concerning this drink, is to compile all and send each a copy. These are not for sale; this is just my way of saying 'Thank You.'

You will find that the ingredients are the same in just about all the recipes; however, the amounts differ. Making the drink was usually the work of individual farm wives and, being individuals, each had her own way of doing things. The recipe I had in mind did not contain ginger-it did contain soda though-and such a recipe was sent to me, in fact a couple of them.

Each of you who sent a recipe should have received a postcard or brief letter acknowledging receipt. I must also thank the magazines Rural Heritage, Farm Collectors, Gas Engine Magazine, Engineers and Engines Magazine, and Iron Men Album for printing my request for information. These are all great magazines, I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite. In fact, I wouldn't attempt to do so. If you are anything like me, you love reading and experiencing the history of our nation from the 1700s through the 1950s, the railroads, the farming methods and equipment, logging, early construction, and more, too many to list. This is information that is fast being lost and forgotten. It is only through magazines like the above, the shows that we have, and working museums that any of this can be preserved.

For your information, my main interest is railroading. In fact, I am a member of over twenty railroad organizations, president of two (one local, one national). I am also a member of an equal number of historical organizations. Naturally I cannot be active in all of  these, but I do what I can, when I can, for whom I can.

I hope that each of you will enjoy this compilation of recipes as much as I do, and I most sincerely thank you for taking the time to write them and send them to me, this is deeply appreciated.

Recipes for Switchel (Ginger Ale)

1.Sent by Elaine Harrington, Cooperstown, New York, 2? to 3 tbsp. vinegar, ? tsp. ginger, ? cup sweetening (white or brown sugar or honey), Place all ingredients in a quart jar or pitcher, fill with water and ice, mix well.

2.Sent by LaVeme Schmitt, Neillsville, Wisconsin, ? cup sugar, 3 or 4 tbsp. vinegar,  ? tsp. ginger. Add water to above ingredients to make 2 quarts.

3.Sent by Bob & Sonja Hawn, Brooten, Minnesota, Also known as 'Essig Wasser' (German), 3 cups water 1/3 cup sugar, 4 tsp. vinegar, ? tsp. vanilla, 1/8 tsp. nutmeg

4.Sent by W. E. Ned, Charles City, Iowa, ? tsp. ginger, ? cup vinegar, 2/3 cup sugar

Pour ingredients in a quart jar, fill with water and ice, mix well. Mr. Neal tells me that he did add a smidgen of soda to it now and then just to make it fizz.

5.Sent by Marcie Leitzke, Shawano, Wisconsin, This drink, known as 'Farmer's Soda,' may be found in the cookbook written by Marcie, 'Early 1900 Pantry Recipes.' I purchased a copy of the book from Marcie and must say that it was well worth the few dollars that it cost., 1 tsp. lemon juice, 1 tbsp. powdered sugar, 1 tsp. baking soda, Mix in one glass of water and drink while bubbly.

6.Sent by Chressy Cesan, Hampden, Massachusetts, 1  gallon water, 2 cups sugar, 1 cup molasses, ? cup vinegar, 1 tsp. ginger, Heat the sugar, molasses, vinegar, and ginger in 2 cups of the water until dissolved. Add the rest of the gallon of water, stir and chill well.

7.Sent by Coles Roberts, North Brunswick, New Jersey,1/3 vinegar, 1/3 molasses or honey, 1/3 water, Mr. Roberts is Curator of Collections of the New Jersey Museum of Agriculture.

8.Sent by John Hay wood, Mclndoe Falls, Vermont, 1? cups sugar, 1 cup white or apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp. ginger, Add enough water to make one gallon and shake well.

9.Sent by Paul Knickerbocker, Pittsford, New York, 1 cup brown sugar , ? tsp. ginger , ? cup molasses , ? cup vinegar , 7 cups water, Mix until sugar dissolves, chill and serve over ice.

10. Sent by Richard Rulon, Avon, Connecticut,2/3 milk pail of water , 1 full cup vinegar , 1 small cup molasses, 3 heaping tsp. ginger, 5 or 6 eggs beaten to a froth Mix well and serve. Dick tells me that this recipe was used by his grandfather in the tobacco fields.

11.Sent by Donald Mitchell, Duncannon, Pennsylvania, Ground cinnamon, Ground cloves, Sugar, Vinegar, Soda, Mix soda and vinegar together and let fizz, then add other ingredients. Mr. Mitchell, who is 70 years old, says this recipe was in his mother's recipe book, she had the ingredients but not the proportions. Those she kept in her head. He also says it tasted real good back in the Thirties and Forties.

12.Sent by Carol Walter, Palo Alto, California, 1 gal. water, 1 cup molasses, 1? cups vinegar, 2 cups sugar , 1 tsp. ginger, Mix until sugar is dissolved, chill and serve.

13. Sent by Maggie Snyder, Vicksburg, Michigan, 1  cup brown sugar , ? tsp. ginger, ? cup molasses , ? cup vinegar, 2 quarts water, Mix well, chill and serve.

14.Sent by Bruce Metz, Renton, Washington, ? cup each maple sugar and honey, ? cup (generous) apple cider vinegar (none other), ? tsp. ginger, 1 tsp. baking soda, With a bit of the vinegar, make a thin smooth paste of the soda and ginger. Mix that into the rest of the vinegar and combine with the syrup and honey. Stir the mixture into the gallon of water, chill and drink.

15.Sent by Jim Wohtfell, Waterford, Michigan, 1 gal. distilled water, 1 cup honey, 1 cup raw vinegar, Knox Drinking Gelatin, Knox Nutra-Joint, Put the honey, vinegar, and half the water in a container and place this in a sink filled with hot water. When everything is as warm as possible, put two packs of drinking gelatin and four scoops of Nutra-Joint into the hot mixture, shake well until the gelatin is dissolved, then add the remaining water. Shake well, chill and enjoy. This not only helps slake thirst during a long hot day in the field, but it is said to help keep the joints working smoothly. Obviously not an old recipe, rather an adaptation of an old one. I don't know about the joints but I will say that it does help do away with thirst.

16.In response to my request for information concerning this drink (printed in August 1999), Farm Collector printed this recipe on page 4 of their October issue., 1? cups of a blend of maple syrup, brown sugar and molasses (at least ? cup should be molasses), 1 cup cider vinegar, 1 tbsp. fresh grated ginger (? tbsp. if using powdered ginger), 1 tsp. salt, Cold water, enough to make one gallon, Mix all ingredients and chill.