Find out everything you ever wanted to know about barley, including the different types, how to cook it, the health benefits, and some of the best recipes to use it in, in this comprehensive guide.
Barley is among the most prevalent cereal grains found across the globe. According to ancient historical studies, humans began consuming barley approximately 10,000 years ago.
Although humans began using barley primarily as a food source, it gained numerous other applications, such as serving as animal fodder and making fermented beverages such as beer.
Barley belongs to the Poaceae grass family and can develop well in a variety of environments. This ability stems from barley’s adaptable nature that allows it to thrive in a wide range of climates compared to other cereals.
Barley can quickly grow and attain maturity in at least 90 days and has a higher resistance to a dry climate, allowing it to thrive in semi-arid regions of North Africa.
This article will look at its health benefits, different barley types, varieties, and how to cook barley using 15 various recipes.
BARLEY VARIETIES AND TYPES:
Barley exists in two varieties. You can distinguish these two varieties by looking at the flower rows on the flower spike.
The varieties are Six-row and Two-row barley. The six-row barley contains six barley kennels with alternating sets of triple spikelets. The two-row class has two barley kennels, and only the central spikelets are fruitful and can produce seeds.
When it comes to barley types, there are five primary forms, and they include:
1. PEARL BARLEY
It is polished barley typically sold at local supermarkets and stores. This form lacks some or all of its outer bran layer. Pearly barley helps in creating quick barley that undergoes partial cooking and drying.
2. BARLEY FLOUR
It is a ground form of barley. You can get whole grain flour by grinding hulled, hulless barley and regular flour by grinding pearl barley.
3. BARLEY FLAKES
These flakes look similar to rolled oats and undergo steaming and drying to create easily cookable barley flakes.
4. BARLEY GRITS
When you cut up hulled or hulless kernels into chunks, they become whole-grain barley grits. Grits obtained from pearl barley aren’t whole-grain cereal.
5. HULLED BARLEY
It is slightly processed barley which has its inedible outer hull removed. This procedure is very delicate and avoids removing the bran to ensure the final product is whole grain.
6. HULLESS BARLEY
It contains a loosely attached hard outer hull that typically comes off during harvesting. This barley has high concentrations of germ and bran.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF CONSUMING BARLEY
Barley has a chewy texture, is highly packed with nutrients, and offers numerous health benefits. Here are six evidence proved benefits of consuming this cereal grain.
1. IT ASSISTS YOU WITH WEIGHT LOSS
Barley offers a high fiber content that helps keep hunger at bay for longer, which helps in the weight loss process.
- IT HELPS PROTECT YOUR GALLBLADDER FROM GALLSTONES
Scientists believe the high fiber content in barley helps prevent the formation of gallstones, which typically require surgery.
- IT CAN LOWER CHOLESTEROL LEVELS
Barley contains beta-glucans (soluble fibers) that help lower the body’s cholesterol levels by binding bile acids.
- IT HELPS PREVENT DIABETES
This cereal grain contains magnesium which helps the body generate insulin that helps you avoid type 2 diabetes.
- IT CAN HELP YOU AVOID COLON CANCER
Barley offers you many antioxidants that can prevent the development of cancer. Its soluble fibers also help in binding carcinogens in your digestive system.
- IT HAS NUMEROUS VITAMINS AND MINERALS
Whole grain barley contains manganese, selenium, Vitamin B1, Niacin, phosphorous, and other essential nutrients you can enjoy after knowing how to cook barley correctly.
HOW TO COOK BARLEY
Preparing and cooking barley is a relatively straightforward procedure. Although numerous recipes exist, there are three conventional ways of cooking barley. These techniques include stovetop absorption, rice cooker, and stovetop pasta method.
- STOVETOP ABSORPTION:
● Start by washing and rinsing one cupful of barley and combine it with three cups of water. Add a pinch of salt, boil the barley over high heat, and later lower the heat to a simmer.
● Cook the barley for approximately 25-30 minutes if you use pearl barley and 40-50 minutes when using hulled barley. Drain any excess water, and your barley is ready.
- RICE COOKER METHOD
● Add 1 cup of washed barley and 1.5 cups water to a rice cooker and let it simmer for 30-50 minutes, depending on your barley type.
- STOVETOP PASTA METHOD
● Boil water in a large stockpot, add a pinch of salt, and add your washed barley. Let it cook for 25-30 or40-50 minutes, depending on your barley type.
● Drain the barley’s excess water and serve it hot.
Now, give these 15 barley recipes a try!
It offers you a delicious beef and mushroom stew to eat with your barley.
A unique barley salad that combines the sweetness of blueberries with the tang of goat cheese.
It is a creamy barley risotto with butternut and toasted pecans.
It is a Barley salad with mint and feta that will provide a satisfying texture.
A brightly colored treat with alimony dressing.
A healthy and cool summer drink for all.
A rice alternative that’s excellent with roasted fish
Toasting the barley creates a deliciously nutty flavor.
A simple, flavorful and comforting dish.
It offers tender chicken and barley dish with a healthy herby dressing.
It combines veggies, barley, and bacon into a risotto-like stew.
It provides a delicious and impressive barley dish containing pheasant and stuffed onions.
It contains kimchi, raw radishes, mushrooms, and sweet black barley.
A southwestern kick makes this one memorable!
It provides a hotpot soup style of preparing your barley with lamb stew.
Barley offers numerous health and dietary benefits.
When it comes to preparing barley dishes, you can use various recipes on how to cook barley.
Additionally, you can cook barley the traditional way and still enjoy its numerous benefits.
Whatever you choose, it’s sure to be delicious!