Vegetarian Food Pyramid - Barley

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Posted by DK

The next in the line of my series (see my previous post here) is going to be Barley. I have all kinds of Barley at home (at least all the ones I can find that is :)). The reason? Well Barley, a grain of the grass family, is among the oldest cultivated grain and is one of the most nutritious grains there is. I still remember how I used to keep my face when my mom forced the barley water down my throat in the name of health. I guess if she hadn't said precisely used "health reasons" , then I would have probably gulped down glass after glass :) – which of course I realize now in the aftermath. Barley forms one of the principal diets among the Eastern Europe, the Middle East and among the Asians.

Types of Barley

Let me now go into the different types available and their cooking method.

Different Types of Barley

Ask this to a farmer and he would probably give you at least 6 different types of Barley. But to a common (wo)man, our exposure to barley in the market comes down to majorly only three types.

Hulled Barley1) The Hulled barley is the most nutritious type of barley where bran and germ layers remain intact while only the outermost hull of the grain gets removed. It is the forerunner of nutrition among its various types. It is also called as “dehulled Barley”. While it takes a lot of cooking time, the nutrition that it gives is worth all the effort. This would be found in bulk in the health food stores. It is light brown in color and a bit bigger than pearled barley.

How to cook Hulled Barley?
For every one cup of Hulled Barley, add 2 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, reduce the heat, cover with a lid and simmer until it gets tender. It takes the longest cooking time – approximately 1 hour to 1 hour 30 minutes. It would be convenient to cook large quantities of these and store in the fridge to use as and when required.

2) Pot Barley(also referred to as Scotch Barley or Barley Groats) is the whole grain with just the inedible outer husk removed. It is the next best thing to hulless barley since here too the bran and germ are left intact although lightly polished/ minimally refined. You would get this type mainly in the Health Food stores and is not commonly available.

How to cook Pot Barley?
For 1 cup of Pot Barley, add 2 cups of boiling water, cover and simmer until tender. It takes approximately 45 minutes to 1 hour to cook.

3) Pearl Barley is the most commonly available form , which is nothing but an extension of Pot barley. Pot barley - polished some more with little bit of steaming added to it makes Pearl Barley and needless to say is little less nutritious than the former. The advantage would be the availability and also that it cooks faster than than Pot barley. The color of pearl barley is off white

How to cook Pearl Barley?
This is one of the fastest type among the three to cook. Take one cup of Pearl Barley and cook in 2 cups of water, bring it to a boil, cover and simmer for approximately 30minutes-45 minutes until tender.

Barley can also be steamed. Take one measure of Barley along with one measure of water. Steam it for approximately one hour. Adding few vegetables to it makes it a crunchy and healthy lunch.

With these three classifications in place, different forms of these are now available in the market in the recent years.

Other Varieties of Barley

1) An Asian variety of Barley is available in the Asian supermarkets and which goes by the name hato mugi, is supposedly the Japanese version. It is also called as pressed barley or Job's tears This grain is compressed, hulled and enriched.

2) Barley Flakes ( also referred to as Rolled Barley/ Flaked Barley) are nothing but Barley kernels which have been sliced and then rolled into flakes. This is most sought after for breakfast cereal and takes about 30 minutes to cook.

3) Barley grits are barley kernels which have been toasted and crushed into smaller pieces in order to reduce the cooking time. These are harder to find in the markets.

4) Black Barley (also referred to as the Ethiopian black barley) is , as the name emphasizes, black in color. They look similar to pearl barley in appearance.

How to cook Black Barley
Soak the barley overnight. For one measure of barley add 2-1/2 cups water, bring it to a boil, then simmer in covered pan for approximately 30-50 minutes until tender.

5)Quick Cooking Barley, as the name denotes, is the quick cooking version of Barley and takes only about 10 minutes to cook since it has been already pre-steamed. Use it in salads/side dishes.

6)Sprouting Barley are used to make sprouts which is not refined. They are not good for cooking since they have very thick hull

Barley Flour7)Barley Flour is the whole barley grain ground into a fine powder.These can be made at home provided you have grain Mill. There are two ways to make these flours.

a) Malting Process involves the barley allowed to sprout, rapidly dried and then made into a flour. This process changes the chemical structure of the barley and is the first step in brewing too. This also is more nutritious since it includes the hull of the grain.

b) Unmalted Barley flour is also available in the markets or you can make your own by grinding pearled or hulled barley using a Rice Mill.

Like any other flours, they go rancid very fast and its beneficial to store them in a freezer (good for 3-4 months) or else it should be stored in cool dry place (good for 1-2 months). One can use the flour for substituting 1/4 th of regular flour to give a nutty flour, can be used as thickeners in soups and stews etc. Since the flour has very little gluten, it needs other flours to make good textured breads.

8) Barley Malt Syrup. Move over sugar, here comes barley syrup :).I prefer such sweeteners to the regular refined white sugar. This syrup is made by sprouting the barley, then drying it quickly in a kilt/quick drying oven, cooked until it gets to a syrup consistency and finally strained to remove any impurities.

How to Use Barley Malt Syrup
The manufacturers specify the following substitutions : Use one for one measure as a replacement for honey and molasses. To replace sugar, use 1/4 cup of less liquid for each cup of barley malt syrup used.

Health Benefits of Barley

As mentioned earlier, hulless variety or even the Pot barley are more nutritious since they are less refined as compared to pearl Barley which is the most processed. Barley is rich in fiber, calcium, phosphorous, iron,magnesium and B vitamins.

In the ancient times, it was believed that consuming barley would increase potency and boost physical strength. The fiber in the grain helps to prevent constipation as well as other digestive problems. It also helps to minimize heart related diseases, certain cancers and harmful cholesterol produced by the liver.

If you have Type 2 Diabetes and have been taking Oats to reduce the same, then here is another good news for you. Barley helps to reduce the insulin and glucose responses than Oats. Eating insoluble fibers which is what Barley is all about., helps to prevent gallstones.

Related Recipes

1.Step by step pictorial of making Barley Roti - a healthy and satisfying Indian flatbread

This post was written by Dhivya

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I am loving these series Dhivya! I love my wholegrains and so I am enjoying reading several different things about them. Furthermore I am learning quite a bit here!

Meeta K. Wolff said...
February 26, 2009 at 8:20:00 AM GMT+1  

Thanks Meeta :) I am learning too :)

DK said...
February 27, 2009 at 3:38:00 AM GMT+1  

Thanks for sharing I need all the help I can get with a dad who only eats raw food and a vegan daughter what's a girl to do.

Netts Nook said...
March 4, 2009 at 1:38:00 AM GMT+1  

Great information. Barley is very healthy. It is rich nutrients. It helps in various ways like for skin purifier, cures pimples, helps to get taut skin, it act as skin whitener and has many other benefits. It can also be used as body scrub, which can be rubbed on the skin for 15-20 minutes to get optimal exfoliation.

July 16, 2009 at 1:28:00 PM GMT+2  

Your post is really informative for me. I liked it very much.
Keep sharing such important posts.

November 22, 2010 at 7:13:00 AM GMT+1  

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