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Barley

Barley's been feeding humans for millennia, though it fell out of favor during the last one as people came to see it as low-brow peasant fare.   It's most often used in soups and stews, where it serves as both a puffy grain and a thickener, but it also makes a nice side dish or salad.  At most markets, you'll have to choose between two types of barley.  Hulled barley is the most nutritious, since only the tough outer hulls are polished off.  Pearl barley is polished some more, so that the outer bran layer is also scrubbed off.  It's less nutritious, but more popular since it's not as chewy as hulled barley and it cooks faster.   

Varieties:

 

barley flakes = rolled barley = flaked barley    Notes:   To make this, barley kernels are sliced, then rolled flat into flakes.  Like rolled oats, rolled barley is usually served as a hot cereal.  It takes about 30 minutes to cook.  Substitutes:  rolled oats OR other rolled grains

barley grits  Notes:   These are barley kernels that have been toasted, and then cracked into smaller pieces in order to speed up the cooking time.  They're a bit hard to find.   Substitutes: buckwheat grits OR hominy grits

black barley = Ethiopian black barley   Notes:   This is similar to pearl barley, only it has a black exterior.  Substitutes:   pearl barley

 

hato mugi = pressed barley = Job's tears   Notes:    Look for these large, pressed barley kernels in Asian markets.   Substitutes: pearl barley (slightly smaller)

 

hulled barley = barley groats   Notes:  This is the least processed form of barley, with just the outermost hull removed.  While it's chewier and slower to cook than more processed forms of barley, it's rich in fiber and really good for you.   Look for it in health food stores.   Substitutes: pot barley (less nutritious, better flavor and texture) OR pearl barley (even less nutritious, even better flavor and texture; smaller, cooks more quickly) OR barley grits (takes less time to cook) OR whole white buckwheat groats

Job's tears  See hato mugi.

pearl barley = pearled barley  Notes:   This is the most common form of barley, but not the most nutritious.  While hulled barley loses only the thick outer hull in the milling process, pearl barley is stripped of the nutritious bran layer as well, leaving just the "pearl" inside.  Despite this, it's still fairly nutritious.   It takes about an hour to cook.  Substitutes: hato mugi (slightly larger grains) OR arborio rice (not as chewy) OR orzo OR  buckwheat groats (Works well in pilafs.)

pot barley = Scotch barley   Notes:    This isn't as heavily processed as pearl barley, in that the endosperm is left intact, along with the inner pearl of the kernel.  It takes about an hour to cook.  Look for it in health food stores.    Substitutes:   pearl barley (Lacks endosperm, takes less time to cook.) OR hulled barley (more nutritious, gritty texture)

pressed barley  See hato mugi

 

quick-cooking barley  Notes:  This is similar to pearl barley in taste and nutrients, but it only takes about 10 minutes to cook since it's been pre-steamed.   It's often served either hot as a side dish or cold in a salad.  Substitutes:  pearled barley

Scotch barley  See pot barley.

 

sprouting barley  Notes:  This is unrefined barley, used for making barley sprouts.  Don't try to cook with it--it's got a very thick hull.  

 

 


Copyright 1996 - 2005  Lori Alden