Ymerdrys: Rye Bread Topping


“There was in times of old, where Ymer dwelt, nor sand nor sea, nor gelid waves; earth existed not, nor heaven above, ’twas a chaotic chasm, and grass nowhere”

In Nordic mythology, Ymer is an ancestral being to all other jötnar, or creatures with superhuman powers. In the poem, Grímnismál, we are told that earth is created from Ymer’s flesh, and even that other parts of the natural world are created from Ymer:

“Of Ymer’s flesh was earth created, of his blood the sea, of his bones the hills, of his hair trees and plants, of his skull the heaven; and of his brows the gentle powers formed Midgard for the sons of men; but of his brain the heavy clouds are all created”

Although I grew up learning Nordic mythology, I was never a believer. And yet, I am firmly convinced that all life flows from Ymer. Why? Because I have tasted the goodness that flows from edible ymer!

In Denmark, ymer is a thick, creamy, and sour milk product. It’s similar to, but not the same as, natural yogurt here in America. After coming to the States, I could not find it.  I remember once emailing Arla, the well-known manufacturer in Denmark, to ask how they made their product. They replied that it could not be homemade. I was so disappointed (although I doubted then, and now, that that’s true). So while in America, I’ve had to settle with Greek yogurt, which, actually, is not too bad a substitute. 

When I don’t feel like drenching my yogurt in honey and fruit or müsli, but rather want to start my day off on a less sweet, healthier note, I eat ymerdrys, or rye bread topping, on top of my yogurt. My version has turned out to be more coarse—and less sweet—than the store-bought version. But personally, I like my version a whole lot better…I love it when that happens!

Time to pull out the left-over rye bread…


Ymerdrys: Rye Bread Topping


  • 500g (1 lb) rye bread
  • 5 tbsp brown sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C (400˚F).
  2. In a bowl, crumble the rye bread into smaller pieces.
  3. Add the brown sugar and mix well.
  4. Spread the mixture onto a cookie sheet.
  5. Place the cookie sheet in the oven and let the ymerdrys bake for 10-20 minutes (depending on how dry the bread is). Stir occasionally.
  6. Once done, let the ymerdrys cool off and store in an airtight container.