Thursday, November 1, 2012

Barley there is more to it then soup and beer


                                                           © Sweetgoddess | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Barley is one of the oldest grains in the world.  It has been found in ancient ruins all across the globe.It can be grown quickly in a variety of climates.It is a staple of life in many countries. The United States barley crop is primarily used as animal feed and in the Beer making industry. We as Americans could really benefit from this grain if we would start eating it instead of drinking it.

Barley is nutty and chewy when cooked (resembling brown rice).  It is a great treat as a hot cereal for breakfast. It can be substituted for brown rice in any recipe. pearled barley can be substituted for rice in a risotto recipe. Cooked barley is great tossed into salads or casseroles, or toss some into bread dough for a chewy nutty texture, and the list could go on. It can be ground into flour although it is not typically used alone. It can be substituted for part of the other flours in baking.

How to buy and store barley.

Store tightly covered in a cool dark place. Some prefer to store in the fridge or freezer. Keep it in sight so you will be more prone to use it. Don't store it in the back corner of your pantry only to be found two years from now.

Whole, hulled, flaked, or pearled barley, what's the difference?

Whole or hulled barley has had only the husks removed, Pearl barley has been dehusked and then polished to remove the aleurone which covers the endosperm breaking it down into  white shiny "pearls" of goodness. Barley flakes have been  husked, then steamed and  rolled into a flat flake.

large pearled barley
© Neezam75 | Stock Free Images & Dreamstime Stock Photos

Most of the barley sold in the grocery markets around the country is pearled barley. Most of the recipes you will find call for pearl barley. It's availability  in most grocery stores makes it an easy place to start getting more whole grain goodness into your diet.

How to cook barley

Barley is typically cooked in a one to three ratio. One part grain three parts liquid It will soak up the liquid and expand to four times the original amount. One cup of barley will expand to make about four cups cooked. Cooking time can be shortened by about half by soaking at least five hours first.

Pearled barley's grain size can range from course to very fine. depending on how much polishing has been done to it. The cooking time can vary from  10 minutes on a very fine pearl  up to 60 minutes for the larger less processed kernels.
The whole barley takes a bit more time 90 minutes to cook. (30 in a pressure cooker)

Your typical large pearl barley will take about 35-40 minutes to cook on the stovetop. (15 minutes soaked)

1 cup large pearl barley
3 cups water or broth
bring to a boil and then simmer over a low heat for 35-40 minutes until tender.

This can be cooled and stored in the fridge for up to a week.  It is easily reheated into a casserole or tossed into a salad.

Below are some links with more information about barley and its great nutritional value. The links also include some wonderful sounding recipes.

barley foods web site

hulled barley vs pearled barley

how to cook barley + recipes

vegan coach how to cook barley


  1. Thanks for some great ideas on how to use barley. I'm going to have try making some of those! Thanks for linking up at The Courtship Connection.

  2. Cool that barley can be substituted for brown rice! Thanks for sharing at A Humble Bumble :)

  3. Great info on barley! New fan her by way of Little Homestead on the Hill and I would love to have you link up with me at the Clever Chicks Blog Hop this week if you can make it.

    I hope to see you there!
    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

  4. i love barley! i have never cooked with it but have always wanted to. very informative post!

    ps. aint nothin wrong with drinkin it too ;)

    thank you for sharing your post with us at the Wednesday Fresh Foods Link Up! I hope to see you again this week with more seasonal and fresh/real food posts :) xo, kristy