What Is Barley and What’s the Best Way to Cook It?

Barley, or Hordeum Vulgare, is a popular cereal grain with a chewy texture and mild flavor. It is a popular ingredient in many dishes and is cultivated all across the globe for human consumption, beer production, and animal fodder. 

What is Barley?

Barley is a type of cereal crop that belongs to the grass family. Although it is produced worldwide, it usually grows in areas with moderate climates. Barley is an ancient crop, and has been cultivated for thousands of years. It is the fourth most cultivated grain worldwide after corn, rice, and wheat.

Barley is sold in the markets in two different forms: pearled and hulled. The pearled barley is completely free from the hull and bran, while hulled barley has the bran and germ attached to the grain. Hulled barley is thought to be more beneficial to health compared to pearled barley because it contains these nutritious components. 

Image Credit: Flickr user allispossible.org.uk ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

Although barley is a highly nutritious grain it has high amounts of gluten, which should be avoided by people who have a wheat allergy, celiac disease, or gluten sensitivity. 

Forms of Barley

Barley can be incorporated into one’s diet in multiple forms including whole grains, flakes, sprouted barley, barley flour, barley water, and barley oil extract. All of these forms help in boosting health while being a treat to the taste buds as well. 

What Does Barley Taste Like?

Barley grain has a light, nutty flavor and chewy texture which can be compared to brown rice. Due to its neutral flavor, barley is often used as a base for stir-frys, stews, and salads.

Benefits of Barley

Barley is a highly nutritious whole grain that is rich in fiber, packed with minerals and vitamins, and often regarded as a super grain. It helps in weight loss, reduces inflammation, improves digestion, controls diabetes, lowers cholesterol, strengthens the heart, and prevents cancer as backed by different scientific studies. All around a fantastic ingredient to incorporate into nearly any diet. 

Uses of Barley

Barley is a versatile food and can be incorporated into multiple dishes that uplifts its flavor. Since barley has a tough texture, it needs to be soaked in water for a certain time before use. Whether it’s soups, salads, risottos, casseroles, or porridges, barley can be a star ingredient in all these dishes. 

Barley goes well with all types of meat, vegetables, and spices. Hearty beef and barley come together in this recipe, which is definitely worth a try on a cold winter’s night! Or you can go with this Savory Breakfast Grain Bowl to start your day. For a light, refreshing meal, try our recipe for Blue cheese and Barley Salad.

Besides the savory barley recipes mentioned above, you can swap barley into nearly any baked dish to give them fiber and nutrition. Barley bread, Scottish barley pudding, and lemon barley cake are popular barley desserts in many areas across the globe. Intriguingly, barley has been the fermentable base of beer and whiskey for a long time. In recent years barley is being used in many non-alcoholic drinks and beverages as well.

Barley is a multi-faceted grain that can be a part of your breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You can give it a try with our amazing barley meals like Mushroom Barley Stew, and Garlic Confit Chicken with Braised Carrots. This wholesome grain is not only a treat for your health but is a treat for your palate too. 

Feature Image: Flickr user Oregon State University ( CC BY-SA 2.0 )

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments