Foodie Friday: Switchy Lemonade
Boy, there’s nothing like a cold glass of lemonade on a hot summer day (and it still feels like summer here!)
And the BEST kind of lemonade, is actually more of a limemade. Bahamian style. Made from native limes (like key limes). Around here, it’s called “Switchy.” I’ve also seen it written online as “Switcher” or “Switcha.” I haven’t been able to confirm the origins of the name, although locally I’ve heard that it’s called “switchy” as in “swiss tea.”
In any event, it’s GOOD and SIMPLE and FRESH. Bahamian style. Better Life style.
Historically, native lime trees grew in abundance on this little island. For whatever the reasons, their numbers have dwindled. I am thankful to have a friend with a bountiful crop this summer! We have enjoyed lots of Switchy, and I also use the limes in cooking.
In fact, we were out of “regular” limes the other day, and I asked Beau – the fish specialist – if I could use the key lime to season the fish. He looked at me in surprise and exclaimed, “Yes! What do you think we used to use around here?!” Oh, right. Of course! Long before local stores stocked “store-bought” Persian limes (no electricity or refrigeration in those days either!), native limes were the way of the island.
But, I digress…
So, to make Switchy. . .
Per usual, I gather all of my ingredients and tools first. Very simple today: limes, sugar, knife, cutting board, pitcher, strainer, spoon, Pyrex cup.
To start, I pull out my pile of limes and slice them in half. (I use approximately 20 limes for a gallon, then adjust everything to taste.) Then, I squeeze the juice into my pitcher.
I squeeze just enough to get most of the juice out. However, I don’t press superhard at the end, as I’ve been told that squeezing the limes too hard brings out the bitter.
In the past I’ve used tea towels, and also just my fingers, to strain the juice and catch the seeds, and others use a variety of methods, too. However, my preferred method these days is a simple little strainer that sits atop my pitcher.
This also makes it very easy to collect the seeds – which I’ve taken to tossing into the yard in the hopes that they will “catch” and give birth to native lime of my own!
After I’ve squeezed in the lime juice, it’s time to sweeten things up. The amount of sugar, of course, is VERY subjective. Beau likes it on the tarter, “fresher” side, and we’re both trying to cut sugar intake, so I only use about 1/2 cup sugar to my gallon pitcher. However, when I made this the other day for a friend known for his sweet tooth, I knew I’d need more. So I DOUBLED the sugar. And when I had him do a taste test, he puckered up his face and exclaimed, “Whew! Needs more sugar!” Hah! So we added more, and he was happy.
Bottom line, add the amount that is right for you! The secret, in my opinion, is to get the sugar to blend well so that it doesn’t settle at the bottom in granules and you end up adding more sugar than you need. How to do this? Dissolve the sugar in hot water before adding it to the pitcher. (This works great for sweet tea and similar beverage prep, too!)
I fill a Pyrex cup with about 2 cups water and nuke it in the microwave until simmering or boiling. Then, I add the sugar – slowly so it doesn’t boil over. Stir well, until the cloudy water turns clear, so that the sugar fully dissolves. Then add this sweet mix to the pitcher. Fill the rest of the pitcher with water, tasting and adjusting as you go for more sugar or lime juice.
Then chill or serve over ice, and what a great refreshment.
My Foodie Friday posts typically include a “Recipe Recap” with a summarized, traditional-style recipe at the end. For this, however, let’s face it – it’s not much of a recipe! And too subjective with lime and sugar amounts anyway. So . . . good luck! 🙂
What do you think? Have you made or drank this before? Was it called Switchy? Is it still warm enough where you live to even want cold limemade?!