Home & Garden

January 21, 2013

Agrarian heritage in a bottle

Vermont woman puts 21st century twist on haymaker's punch


Pre-refrigeration and Coleman coolers, jugs of switchel were placed in a nearby brook by farmers.

“We put lemon juice in ours. They didn’t have lemon juice. They used powdered ginger. We use fresh ginger and blackstrap molasses not to be confused with regular molasses. It has tons of calcium, iron, potassium and electrolyte properties that are good for your body.”

Life happened, and Alexander kept deferring her dream to commercially make switchel.

“I had some turn of events in my life, and I said I don’t want to wait. I jumped in with both feet in earnest.”

She toted her concoction around the Green Mountain State for market research.

“The response was so positive I started bottling it professionally and commercially in June. We do it at the Vermont Food Venture Center in Hardwick. We bottle in 12 ounce bottles and Mason jars. It’s flying off the shelves.”

For some, it’s a nostalgic reminder. One customer was chased by her grandmother around the farm. The grandmother was intent on her young granddaughter drinking switchel, and the granddaughter wasn’t having “that stuff.”

For palettes accustomed to sugary beverages, switchel takes some getting used to.

Some flat out don’t like it. Others allow it to grow on them.

“They come back week after week. After two or three times, they’re hooked and they can’t get enough of it. If you’re used to drinking lemonade, iced tea and Pepsi; it’s not what your think. It has a very unsuspecting flavor. Some people are in love with it immediately.”

A father handed a bottle to his 18-month-old child, who refused to part with it.

“It’s a good beverage for all ages. My family drinks it year round. We always had it in the refrigerator in a half-gallon jug.”

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