“Now the sun and the wind were hotter and Laura’s legs quivered while she made them trample the hay….She was thirsty, then she was thirstier, and then she was so thirsty that she could think of nothing else.
Nothing was ever so good as that cool wetness going down her throat. Ma had sent them ginger-water.”
Before our modern version of ginger ale there was ginger water, sometimes called “switchel” on the East Coast which may be where Ma learned the recipe. Ginger water was a non-alcoholic drink often prepared during hot summer days when pioneers were working hard in their gardens or in the hay fields. It has a similar sweet-tart taste like many infused sports water drinks, but this recipe uses all-natural ingredients you can find in your own home.
Here we will share a ginger water recipe inspired by Laura’s childhood memories, but we’ve included some additional flavor variations below for your enjoyment. So pack it on a picnic, serve a refreshing treat at a Little House on the Prairie birthday party, or enjoy this drinkable energy boost on a hot summer day when you’ve been exercising your own pioneering spirit!
Ingredients for 6 servings of Ginger Water
- ¾ cups packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ⅓ cups apple cider vinegar or kombucha
- 1 quart water
- 1 lemon (optional)
- 1 cucumber (optional)
- 7-10 mint leaves
Directions to Make Old-Fashioned Ginger Water
1. In a 2-quart pitcher or bowl, dissolve the brown sugar and ground ginger in the apple cider vinegar.
2. Add 1 quart of water and mix well. Chill for at least an hour or serve over ice.
Flavor Variations for Refreshing Summer Drinks
Lemon: Slice one lemon and place into mason jars that total one quart. Add the completed ginger water and let steep overnight before serving.
Mint: Add 7-10 Mint leaves to Mason jars. Bruise the leaves with a spoon handle and top with the completed ginger water. Let steep overnight and serve.
Cucumber: Slice one medium cucumber and place into mason jars. Add the completed ginger water and let steep overnight before serving.
We hope you will try these ginger water recipes for an old-fashioned refreshing summer drink. It’s fun to think about quenching your thirst as Laura and her family probably did. Which flavor variation will you try first?
Be sure to subscribe to the Little House on the Prairie Newsletter to see more summer fun recipes and activities.
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