Bircher Muesli was first introduced in hospitals in the early 1900’s by a Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner. It was based on a meal that had been served whilst hiking in the Swiss Alps, and he thought it might provide a good source of fresh fruit for his patients. Originally known in Swiss German as Birchermüesli or simply Müesli, the word is a diminutive of Mues which means “puree” or “mash-up.”
It has become a very popular breakfast meal based on uncooked rolled oats and other products based on grain, fresh or dried fruits, nuts, and mixed with milk, yogurt or/and fruit juice. It is available in a packaged dry form, ready made, or it can be made fresh. The best Bircher Müesli is unquestionably my mother’s and what is found in many hotels and guest houses across the Alps.
In Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Germany and Austria, it is also eaten as a light evening dish; Birchermüesli complet is muesli with butterbrot. You must try it if you have not during your next Alpine trip!
The original Bircher-Benner Müesli recipe:
The original Bircher-Benner recipe is proportionately the opposite of most muesli available in today’s supermarket varieties, calling for far more fruit than grains. One serving based on the original recipe consists approximately of:
– 1 tablespoon rolled oats, soaked in 2–3 tablespoons water
– 1 tablespoon lemon juice
– 1 tablespoon cream
– 200 grams apple, finely grated and mixed with the above directly before serving
– optionally topped with 1 tablespoon ground hazelnuts or almonds
The original recipe used sweetened condensed milk instead of cream but regular milk is used today. The original recipe also advised to soak the oats in water overnight as raw oats need a lengthy soaking to soften them before eating. This long soaking time is unnecessary with modern rolled “quick oats”, which the manufacturers already soften through a steam treatment.
Today’s Bircher Müesli can be found with many fruits in it, usually seasonal and dried fruits like raisins.