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Ginger Water Recipe
(Switchel/Haymaker's Punch)

Allthingslauraingallswilder.com tells us about the famed Ginger Water that Ma prepared when Laura and Pa were working putting up hay in the deep heat of summer (in the book, The Long Winter):

'Another name for the ginger water Caroline Ingalls concocted is switchel. Switchel first came to the colonies in the 17th century by way of the Caribbean. It was a very popular summertime drink, and by the 19th century it was known as haymaker's punch because of its frequent use during hay harvesting.

The sweetener Laura recalled her Ma as using was sugar, but she does not say if it was white or brown sugar. Switchel could be sweetened with honey, brown sugar, white sugar, molasses, or even maple syrup.'


  • ⅓-½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup molasses or maple sugar (maple is milder and more pleasant)
  • ½ cup light brown sugar (or honey)
  • 1½ teaspoons ground ginger (or 1 tsp finely grated root)
  • 2 quarts cold water


Simple mix all ingredients together, making sure that the sugars are dissolved. This is a strongly flavored drink, though if you opt for maple sugar instead of molasses, it is toned down a bit. Refrigerating it overnight helps to mellow the flavors a bit, too.