Have you had your bowl of German porridge today?

German porridge.
German porridge.

Have you had your bowl of German porridge today?

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

There’s frost on the pumpkin and a chill in the morning air. But if there’s one thing that makes it easier to throw off the covers and crawl out of bed, it’s the prospect of a warming, tasty breakfast. This is the season for comforting bowls of hot cereal, and living in Germany, you have a plethora of tasty and inexpensive ingredients to work with. Here’s your crash course in the most basic types of porridge popular here. Cooking methods are as different as the add-ins themselves, so don’t be afraid to get experimental in the kitchen! 


Hafenflocken/Oatmeal: A 500-gram package of the cheapest store brand goes for around 50 euro cents; one of Germany’s best-selling brands, Kölln, a bit more than double that. The two types you’re liable to see include the “Zarte,” (tender) or Kernige (robust); the latter has more bite and takes a bit longer to prepare.

Method of cooking: Combine 50 grams oatmeal, 200 ml milk or water and a pinch of salt in a saucepan. Bring to boil and allow to gently bubble away for two or three minutes before removing from the heat. Sweet and spice will make it nice, so add maple syrup, almonds, walnuts, brown sugar, sliced apples or cinnamon. Cream and jam are also pleasing additions to a hearty bowl of oats.


Grieß/Semolina: Store brands of what we know by the brand name Cream of Wheat goes for as little as 40 euro cents and is available widely. Sold as either “Weichweizen” or “Hartweizen,” there’s a preferred type for each of the many side dishes made with it, from dumplings to puddings to noodles. Not only babies enjoy this easy-on-the-tummy breakfast!

Method of cooking: In a saucepan, heat 300 ml of water, milk or other milk replacement drink of your choice. As it comes to a boil, slowly add 50 grams of semolina, whisking constantly to avoid clumping. Allow to come to a boil once again and remove from heat. Within four minutes, it will have thickened, and at this point, you can add honey, cream, fresh fruits, dried berries or whatever else you have on hand. A spoonful of peanut butter or hazelnut spread makes it almost dessert-like.


Buchweizen/Buckwheat: This robust grain is less common, so you might have to look in the health foods aisle in a larger supermarket or the section in which Russian products are sold. The name of this pseudo-cereal is misleading, as it’s unrelated to wheat, which makes it suitable for those following gluten-free diets. Not only does it make for savory side dishes, it’s a hearty and filling breakfast choice.

Method of cooking: First rinse 60 grams of buckwheat groats thoroughly in water. In a saucepan, bring 200 ml of water to a boil and add the groats. Turn down heat to low and allow the liquid to cook off, adding more water if needed, until it reaches your preferred consistency. Add a knob of butter, salt and sugar to taste. Serve with strawberries, bananas, cream or honey, along with some almonds, walnuts or muesli for added crunch.


Hirse/Millet: This catch-all term refers to a variety of small kernelled cereals. Gluten-free and high in protein, fiber, and antioxidants, this grain can make for a pleasant change of pace from time to time.

Method of cooking: In a saucepan, bring 250 ml of milk or water to a boil. Add 30 grams of millet and let stand on low heat, stirring occasionally, until it becomes a singular mass. For flavor, add a dash or cinnamon, lemon peel and honey. Coconut milk, dates or raisins make nice add-ins, too.


Milchreis/rice: We end the week with this German classic breakfast, made of a type of short-grained round rice that’s good for sweet dishes and works for risotto, too.

Method of cooking: Melt a knob of butter in a saucepan; add 60 grams of rice and allow it to sweat. Add 250 ml of milk and one tablespoon of sugar, along with a few drops of vanilla. Stirring constantly, allow it to come to a boil. Turn heat to low, cover pan and allow to set, stirring often to ensure it doesn’t stick. Serve with cinnamon, applesauce, stewed berries or apricots.

What’s your favorite hot breakfast cereal?

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