Muesli is a popular breakfast cereal based on uncooked rolled oats, fruit and nuts. It was developed around 1900 by Swiss physician Maximilian Bircher-Benner for patients in his hospital. It is available as a packaged dry form, or it can be freshly made.
Originally known in Swiss German as Birchermüesli or simply Müesli, the word is an Alemannic diminutive of Mues which is related to the Old English word moose, meaning stew or pottage.
Muesli 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"). Muesli in its modern form became popular in western countries starting in the 1960s as part of increased interest in Health food and healthy vegetarian diets.
Packaged muesli is a loose mixture of mainly rolled oats together with various pieces of dried fruit, nuts, and seeds. It commonly contains other rolled cereal grains such as wheat or rye flakes as well. There are many varieties, some of which also contain honey, spices, or chocolate. This dry packaged muesli can be stored for many months. It can be served quickly after mixing it with milk, yogurt, coffee, hot chocolate, or fruit juice and (if desired) pieces of fresh fruit. Alternatively, the mix may be soaked overnight in milk and then served with fresh fruit or compote to taste.
Fresh muesli can be made using any combination ingredients, som eof the more common being a mixture of rolled oats, orange juice, blended apple and banana, red currants, raisins, cottage cheese, topped with raspberries.
Original Bircher-Benner muesli recipe
A slightly modernised version of the original Bircher-Benner recipe is still a prototype for most fresh muesli today. For one serving, it consists approximately of:
- 1 tablespoon rolled oats, soaked in 2–3 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cream
- 200 grams apple (about one large, preferably a sour variety), finely grated and mixed with the above directly before serving
- optionally top with 1 tablespoon ground hazelnuts or almonds
The original recipe actually used sweetened condensed milk instead of cream, a compromise due to hygiene concerns regarding fresh milk products in 1900 (bovine tuberculosis etc.), before pasteurization and refrigeration became commonly available. The original recipe also advised to soak the oats in water overnight; this long soaking time is unnecessary with modern rolled "quick oats", which the manufacturers already soften through a steam treatment.