“Now the sun and the wind were hotter and Laura’s legs quivered while she made them trample the hay. She was glad to rest for the little times between the field and the stack. She was thirsty, then she was thirstier, and then she was so thirsty that she could think of nothing else. It seemed forever till ten o’clock when Carrie came lugging the jug half-full.
“Pa told Laura to drink first but not too much. Nothing was ever so good as that cool wetness going down her throat. At the taste of it she stopped in surprise and Carrie clapped her hands and cried out, laughing, ‘Don’t tell, Laura, don’t tell till Pa tastes it!’
“Ma had sent them ginger-water. She had sweetened the cool well-water with sugar, flavored it with vinegar, and put in plenty of ginger to warm their stomachs so they could drink till they were not thirsty. Ginger-water would not make them sick, as plain cold water would when they were so hot. Such a treat made that ordinary day into a special day, the first day that Laura helped in the haying.” Excerpt from Laura Ingalls Wilder, The Long Winter.
One of the “ancestors' ' of modern ginger ale is ginger water or switchel, as the New Englanders called it. It helps to rehydrate a thirsty body like nothing else!
My ELDERBERRIES are ripe! I wanted to harvest them before the birds did, but I’ve never processed elderberries before, so I had to do some homework first. The most promising-looking online recipe used ginger, cinnamon, and cloves – all my favorites!We took scissors, a ladder (for those high, hard to reach branches), and an ice chest into the field, along with our riding mower to trim back the verge! Cutting the whole berry umbels off, we placed them in the ice chest and went back for more. Soon the chest was filled to overflowing. Some berries will have to wait for another day. At home, we put the whole chest into a freezer; more from sheer laziness rather than any other reason. But it turned out well, because in a couple of days, when I was ready to process, they were frozen solid and the ice chest kept the berries cold while I easily stripped them off the umbels with my (very cold!) fingers, just dropping them to the bottom of the chest. ElderberryWhen all the berries were off, and the large twigs removed, I poured the berries, small twigs and all, into a two-gallon thick-bottomed pot and turned it on low. As the berries began to heat, I smashed them against the side of the pot with a spoon, and turned up the heat to medium. Adding grated ginger root, powdered cinnamon and clove, I let it not-quite-simmer for about 30 minutes, continuing to stir and smash the berries every so often.Next, using a two-cup measuring cup, I scooped the whole mess int o my fruit press to remove the pulp, and returning the juice back to a clean pot. (I fed the pulp to the chickens!) When lukewarm, I added raw honey and stirred thoroughly. Pouring through a mesh strainer into clean bottles, I lidded, labeled, and refrigerated my creation.