Switzel is an-old fashioned drink also known as "shrub'' or "fruit vinegar''.
Makes about 5 cups of concentrate
INGREDIENTS: 4 cups bright, fresh bougainvillea flower bracts
4 cups filtered water
¾ cup white sugar
4 slices of lemon
1 cup fresh lemon verbena flowers and leaves OR lemon myrtle leaves
1 cup fresh pineapple pieces
½ cup unpasteurised apple cider vinegar with the mother.
To serve: Seasonal fruits
METHOD: Rinse the bougainvillea to remove pollen before adding them and the water to a large saucepan.
Bring to the boil and remove from heat. Allow to sit 5 minutes. The water will take on the colour of the bracts.
Strain out the bracts, retaining the liquid. Return the coloured liquid to the pot and add the sugar. Stir to dissolve then reheat to boil 1 minute to create a syrup.
Turn off the heat and add the lemon slices, leaves and pineapple.
Mash them with a potato masher to release the flavours of the fruit. Allow it to infuse in the syrup for 5 minutes.
Strain the liquid and keep it, but discard the solids. Cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, add the vinegar and leave on the bench, covered, for 8-12 hours to begin fermentation.
This will consume some of the sugar and give you a very slightly effervescent drink. Pour into bottles and refrigerate.
To serve, add ice and chopped seasonal fruits to a glass. Pour in a little switzel concentrate as you would for cordial.
Dilute with soda or mineral water.
COOK'S NOTE: Using unpasteurised apple cider vinegar, which has the vinegar mother, encourages the development of beneficial bacteria in a very mild ferment, so it's good for gut health. For an alcoholic switzel, add a little gin to your glass.