May 7, 2020

Baking Powder Biscuits and Switchel

Two more sailors recipes to try at home and enjoy while sitting in the sun on your porch or in your backyard

Baking Powder Biscuits:

The original recipe for these biscuits from our friends at the Naval History and Heritage Command makes a batch of 300 biscuits at a time. That's enough for 100 sailors to enjoy with their navy bean soup! We did a little arithmetic for you and scaled the recipe back to make about twenty 2 1/2" biscuits instead. If you don't have a biscuit cutter, you can use an upside down drinking glass to cut out your circles. They are best enjoyed warm from the oven with butter, jam or honey.


  • 2 1/3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter or shortening
  • 2/3 cup milk


  1. Preheat oven to 450* F
  2. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl
  3. Add butter or shortening and mix until it reaches a sandy consistency
  4. Add milk and stir until dough comes together
  5. Turn out on floured board and knead until combined
  6. Roll into 1/2 inch sheet and cut out biscuits with a cookie cutter or glass
  7. Transfer biscuits to baking sheet and combine the scraps and repeat steps 4 + 5 until all of the dough has been used up
  8. Bake at 450* F for 10 - 12 minutes

Switchel / Haymaker's Punch:

"Switchel," sometimes also called "haymaker's punch," has long been a staple on ships and farms across New England. It is delicious served cold on a hot afternoon, and for sailors sure beat the taste of stale water that had been stored in barrels belowdecks for months. Feel free to experiment with the sweeteners to use whatever you have on hand like molasses, brown sugar, or maple syrup. You could also experiment with different kinds of citrus - fresh limes or oranges - in place of lemon juice.


1 cup + 2 3/4 cups water (divided)

Ginger (fresh - about a 1" piece, or dried - about 2 teaspoons)

1 tablespoon lemon juice (about 1/2 a lemon)

1 tablespoon honey

2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  1. Add 4 slices of fresh ginger (or 2 tsp of dried ginger) to 1 cup of the water and bring to a boil
  2. Boil for 3 minutes, then remove from the heat to cool
  3. Pour cooled ginger water plus remaining water in Mason jar or pitcher
  4. Add apple cider vinegar, lemon juice and honey
  5. Stir well and serve chilled

1 reply added

  1. Sharon May 8, 2020 Reply

    Just like my grandmother’s. You’ve inspired me. Switchel ingredients always lingering by the sink. Thank you.

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