How to Cook Barley

Barley is a whole grain cereal high in fiber and easy to prepare and cook. It is usually used in soups and stews but can also be eaten on its own. Barley is also used to brew beer.


Types of Barley


There are different types of barley. The most common types of barley are the hulled barley and pearl barley.

Hulled barley is processed by removing only the two outer hulls which are not edible. It takes longer to cook but is very nutritious and high in fiber, although some people may find it too coarse.

Pearl barley is the most common type of barley, made by polishing off all the outer hulls and bran to leave only the inner grain or pearl. Pearl barley is less nutritious than hulled barley, but is faster to cook and easier to digest.

Quick barley is pearl barley which is steamed and then dried. It only takes 10- 15 minutes to cook.

Barley flour is usually substituted for wheat flour, but mixed with other flours because of its low gluten content.

Barley grits are toasted ground barley used for cereals or side dishes.

Rolled barley, like rolled oats, is used as a cereal.


Storing Barley


Barley spoils when in contact with moisture and humidity,  so it must be kept in a dry, airtight container. When stored in a cupboard or shelf, the barley may last for a year. Stored barley flour may last for about a month.


Cooking Barley


All you really need are water and barley.

Step 1. Rinse barley with water using a strainer to remove any debris.

Step 2. To make hulled barley easier to cook, soak it in 3 parts water to 1 part barley for a few hours or overnight. There is no need to soak pearl barley, although soaking will make pearl barley fluffier.

Step 3. Pour 2 ½ – 3 cups of water or stock/ broth in a pot and bring to a boil. You may use the water used in soaking the barley.

Step 4. Add barley in the boiling water or stock. Close the lid and cook hulled barley for about an hour and pearl barley for 30- 45 minutes if not soaked. Cook pre-soaked barley for half the time.