Muesli (// MEWZ-lee; Swiss German: Müesli [ˈmyə̯sli], non-Swiss Standard German: Müsli [ˈmyːsli] (listen)) is a cold breakfast cereal dish based on rolled oats and ingredients like grains, nuts, seeds and fresh or dried fruits. This mix may be combined with one or more liquids like milk, almond milk, other plant milks, yogurt, or fruit juice and left for a time to soften the oats before being consumed. The cereal is served cold.
Developed around 1900 by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital, muesli is available ready-made in prepackaged dry form, or it can be made from scratch. In Switzerland and Germany, it is also eaten as a light evening dish called Birchermüesli complet: muesli with bread (Butterbrot) and coffee with milk (café au lait).
Muesli was not originally intended as a breakfast food, but an appetizer similar to bread and butter. It was consumed as Schweizer Znacht (supper), but not as a breakfast cereal. It was introduced around 1900 by the Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital, where a diet rich in fresh fruit and vegetables was an essential part of therapy. It was inspired by a similar "strange dish" that he and his wife had been served on a hike in the Swiss Alps.
Bircher-Benner himself referred to the dish simply as "d'Spys" (Swiss German for "the dish", in German "die Speise"); it was commonly known as Apfeldiätspeise (Apple Diet Meal). Bircher opened a chalet style "health sanitorium" in Zürichberg called Lebendige Kraft. These facilities had risen in popularity during the era of lebensreform which valued trends of freedom, hippy ideals and vegetarianism.
Original Bircher-Benner recipe
The original Bircher-Benner recipe consists of the following ingredients:
- Apples, "two or three small apples or one large one." The whole apple was to be used, including skin, core, and pits.
- Nuts, either walnuts, almonds, or hazelnuts, one tablespoon.
- Rolled oats, one tablespoon, "previously soaked in 3 tablespoons water for 12 hours."
- Lemon juice from half a lemon.
- Either cream and honey or sweetened condensed milk, 1 tablespoon.
The dish was prepared by mixing the cream and honey or condensed milk with the soaked oats and lemon juice and, while stirring, grating the whole apple into the mixture. This method prevented the apple pulp from browning. The intent was to serve the dish fresh, immediately before any other dishes in the meal.
Muesli usually and traditionally is freshly prepared using either dry rolled oats or whole grain oats that have been soaked in water or fruit juice. Other common ingredients are additional grated or chopped fresh fruit (e.g., bananas, apples, berries, grapes, mango), dried fruit, milk products (e.g., fresh milk, yogurt, cream, condensed milk, fromage frais, quark, cottage cheese, or nondairy milk substitutes), lemon juice, ground nuts, seeds, spices (especially cinnamon), honey and muesli mix.
The preparation of homemade muesli varies according to the tastes and preferences of the cook, but the basic proportions are around 80% grain, 10% nuts and seeds and 10% dried fruits.
Packaged muesli is a loose mixture of mainly rolled oats or cornflakes together with various dried fruit pieces, nuts, and seeds – the main ingredients of any muesli. It commonly contains other rolled cereal grains such as wheat or rye flakes.
There are many varieties, which may also contain honey, spices, or chocolate. This dry packaged muesli can be stored for many months and served quickly after mixing with milk, filmjölk, yogurt, coffee, hot chocolate, fruit juice, or water. If desired, pieces of fresh fruit may be added. Alternatively, the mix may be soaked overnight in milk and then served with fresh fruit or compote to taste.
- "muesli". Oxford Learner's Dictionaries. Oxford University Press.
- "MUESLI". Cambridge English Dictionary. Cambridge University Press.
- "Duden | Müsli | Rechtschreibung, Bedeutung, Definition, Herkunft". www.duden.de (in German). Retrieved 2019-02-19.
- "Müsli – Wiktionary". de.m.wiktionary.org (in German). Retrieved 2019-02-19.
- "Birchermus / Bircher" (in French). Lausanne, Switzerland: Association Patrimoine Culinaire Suisse [Swiss Culinary Heritage Association]. 2017. Retrieved 2019-02-11.
- Kurmann, Joseph A.; Rasic, Jeremija L.; Kroger, Manfred (1992), "Bircher Muesli", Encyclopedia of Fermented Fresh Milk Products: An International Inventory of Fermented Milk, Cream, Buttermilk, Whey, and Related Products (1 ed.), Springer Verlag, p. 75, ISBN 978-0-442-00869-7
- Mike MacEacheran (14 August 2017). "How Switzerland transformed breakfast: When we think of Switzerland, we often think of muesli. But just how did its pioneering inventor Dr Bircher-Benner capture the culinary zeitgeist of the early 20th Century?". London, UK: BBC. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
- M. Bircher-Benner & Max E. Bircher (1985), "IV A. Raw Food Porridge (Bircher Müesli)", Fruit Dishes and Raw Vegetables, Translated by Reginald Snell, Health Research Books, pp. 19–20, ISBN 0787314110 – via Google booksCS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link) CS1 maint: others (link)
- Media related to Muesli at Wikimedia Commons