Barley is a plant that can withstand extreme temperatures and has a short growing period. About 95% of the barley grown in America is used for animal feed or to make beer. Like all grains, the outer shell of the barley must be removed to make it edible. Whole barley (peeled barley) is the most nutritious and the best way to buy.
Unfortunately, most supermarkets sell pearly barley, which is more processed. The size determines how much of the bran and germ have been removed. The larger the pearl, the less it was ground and the more nutrients and fibers it retained. Whole barley can be found in health food stores. It has three times more protein than rice and, like oats, can help lower cholesterol. You should also know that it contains small amounts of gluten.
You can get barley flakes and cook them as an alternative to hot oats. Like oats, it can be seasoned with cinnamon and complemented with raisins or berries. You can also use it as a substitute for oats when making cookies. Bob’s Red Mill is a producer that includes bran and germ and thus maintains the nutritional value of the grain. Without these pieces, you are left with the same starch found in white flour.
Speaking of flour, you can substitute up to ½ cup of barley flour for every 2-3 cups of plain flour in a loaf or other recipe. Try this easy muffin recipe, which uses only barley flour. Mix 1 cup of barley flour with 1½ teaspoon of baking powder, ¼ teaspoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Beat an egg, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and ½ cup of water separately. Add the dry ingredients and mix 1/3 cup of raisins. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes (until golden), filling the muffin pans in half. You should make 6 muffins. Like white flour, barley flour can be used as a thickener. Try it the next time you make a sauce or sauce.
You end up having to cook whole barley for longer than pearl barley. It can take up to twice as long to cook, actually, and I’m guessing that’s why it didn’t become as popular as the other starches. You can cut down on time by diving it at night (if you are good at planning ahead). However, a pressure cooker will reduce the time to about 40 minutes. While other grains double in size when cooked, the barley expands to about four times the size of the grain.
Since it takes a long time to cook, most recipes require you to do this before adding it to other foods, unless you are using a crock pot. So if you are just going to add it to stews, soups, salads or casseroles, you need to cook it first. It has a great nutty flavor that is hard not to like. Combine with parsnip to expand the nut flavor. For vegetarians, it also adds a chewy texture that makes up for the lack of meat. Adding beans to the pan produces complete protein and more leftovers.
If you have a favorite recipe that involves potatoes, rice or pasta, add an extra twist by replacing these starches with barley. It will be a good surprise for you and your family. Barley can handle any type of seasoning you want to add, whether it’s pepper or slightly aromatic herbs. I like to use Szechuan peppers with barley, along with thyme and sage. Whether you sweeten the cinnamon flavor for breakfast or use it in a tough soup, feel free to season the barley with any of your favorite spices.