Välling: Sweden’s Porridge

Overall, I love breakfast foods.  Whether it’s simple cornflakes and yogurt or fancy coffee cake with eggs and sausage, I’m down for a hearty breakfast! There is one exception to this though—oatmeal.  I do NOT love oatmeal.   When I was growing up, my parents made oatmeal for us several times a week, and I always struggled to get behind the thick, gooey, slimy porridge, even when they added raisins. But, when they threw this version into the mix, my heart sang!

I’m sure there are others out there like me who don’t particularly care for oatmeal.  So, today, I wanted to introduce you to a different kind of oatmeal—the Swedish kind!

It’s called välling, which, when you look up the exact definition, means ‘gruel’.  When I’ve googled it to see if it’s an actual ‘thing’ in Swedish cuisine, the only information that comes up is about baby food! That’s right, baby food.  Apparently, it’s a brand of baby food and baby formula! Who knew??

I recently asked my parents about välling.  My Morfar (mother’s father) was a farm boy in the early 1900’s in Sweden, so in my mind, I imagined that it originally came about because farmers would throw together whatever they had on the farm and make a gruely-porridge out of it to feed their large families.  But, to my surprise, my parents said that they were introduced to it back in the early 80’s by some Swedish missionaries in Central African Republic.  So, maybe it was just a porridge that those missionaries created for nostalgia’s sake?

All right, lets get back to the recipe, shall we?  As I said above, I don’t love oatmeal, but this version of oatmeal is very different and very good!  It has a lot more milk in it, so it’s runnier than traditional, thick, American oatmeal.  And it has a hint of sweetness from some sugar added at the very end of the cooking process. 

Because it cooks for a while, it slightly thickens, creating a delicious, creamy, consistency.  Eating this with a chunk of banana for every bite is one of my favorite porridge breakfasts!  I hope you’ll be adventurous with me and try this ‘new’ version of oatmeal, friends!


Välling: Sweden’s Porridge

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Ingredients:

  • 4 cups Milk (I like to use 2%) (~950 mls–you can also just do a full liter—the milk measurement doesn’t have to be exact for this recipe)
  • ⅛ tsp Salt
  • Scant ½ cup Quick Oats (~50 grams)
  • 3 TBSP white Sugar (optional-you can increase or decrease the amount if you choose to)
  • 2-4 Bananas (depending on how many people you serving—you’ll want 1 banana per person)

Directions:

Pour the milk into a medium, thick-bottomed sauce pan.  Add the salt and sugar.  Slowly, over medium heat, bring the milk to a gentle boil.  Once it’s boiling, add the oats, stirring so that there are no lumps. Reduce the heat to low, and let it simmer for 20 minutes.

You’ll want to stir it often with a whisk to keep the milk from sticking to the bottom of the pan (I LOVE to use this whisk! It’s called a visp in Swedish, and it does a phenomenal job!  You can also find plastic ones at Ikea which are great for non-stick pots and pans—Amazon has them as well, though for a fair amount more).

After about 20 minutes, the oatmeal will be soft, and the milk mixture will have thickened. 

Peel the bananas.  Cut them each in half.  Then, slice each half in half again, lengthwise so that you have 4 slices per banana. Place the banana slices in a cereal bowl, and ladle 1-2 spoonfuls of välling over the bananas.  Eat it with a spoon, cutting pieces of the banana off with each bite. 

Enjoy!