There aren’t many Swiss dishes that are officially eaten at any time of the day. Birchermüesli is one of those. It’s popular for breakfast as it gives you a healthy boost of vitamins, proteins and healthy starchy ingredients for a great start into the morning. Furthermore it’s a must for any Sunday brunch invitation. It’s also a popular packed lunch for the office workers. And it makes a great pick-me-up afternoon snack and you might have guessed it, the Swiss love eating Birchermüesli for dinner too, ideally with some fresh bread and possibly some other items such as cheese or cold cut meats. What made Birchermüesli such a popular dish is that a) it’s delicious and b) it’s such a balanced, healthy meal. The health aspect is no coincidence as it was developed by the Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Brenner who, around 1900, wanted to develop more nutricious meals for his patients than the existing options. He’s said to be the Swiss pioneer of wholefood. The name Birchermüesli stems from three words: Bircher is the name of the physician. Mues is a purrée. Li means small, so a Müesli is a small Mues.
Every family their own recipe, this is my family’s as I learned it from my mum. I’m including the ingredients for a winter and a summer version, which is another beauty of the Birchermüesli; it changes with the seasons.
- 1 large pot (500g) plain yoghurt
- 35g millet flakes (Hirseflocken) or oats
- 1 banana
- 1 apple
- 1/2 handful raisins or 3 dried figs
- winter recipe: 1 orange and a handful of frozen raspberries
- summer recipe: 2 cups of mixed fresh berries or fruit (raspberries, blackberries, redcurrants, plums, nectarines, cherries,…)
- 5 walnuts
- optional: 1.5dl whipping cream
Pour the yoghurt into a bowl. Finely grate the apple straight into the bowl and mix quickly so the apple doesn’t turn brown. In Switzerland there’s a grater called Bircherraffel (Bircher grater, see photo), which is usually used for grating the apple.
But you can also use a more coarse grater.
Chop all other fruit, including the figs and the walnuts and mix with the yoghurt. Add the millet or oats too. Mix well and add sugar to taste – personally I don’t put any sugar into our Birchermüesli as the bananas and raisins/figs provide enough sweetness for our taste but other people do add sugar as they like it sweeter.
Let the Birchermüesli rest in the fridge for 1-2 hours so the grains can soften.
For an indulgent version, add 1.5dl of whipped cream just before serving. We only do this if we have visitors over for a brunch. For our everyday Birchermüesli we prefer to keep it healthier without the additional calories of the cream.
Enjoy with a slice of fresh bread!