How to flavor barley, cooking ideas for this healthy whole grain cereal
Barley is a plant that can withstand extreme temperatures and has a short growing season. About 95% of the barley grown in the United States is used for animal feed or for brewing beer. Like all grains, the outer husk of barley must be removed to make it edible. Whole grain barley (hulled barley) is the most nutritious and best to buy.
Unfortunately, most grocery stores sell pearl barley, which is more processed. The size determines the amount of bran and germ that has been removed. The larger the pearl, the less it has been ground and the more nutrients and fiber it has retained. Whole barley can be found in health food stores. It has three times more protein than rice and, like oatmeal, it 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 oatmeal. Like oatmeal, it can be flavored with cinnamon and supplemented with raisins or berries. You can also use it as a substitute for oatmeal when making cookies. Bob’s Red Mill is a producer that includes the bran and the germ and therefore maintains the nutritional value of the grain. Without these parts, 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 regular flour that is required in a bread or other recipe. Try this simple muffin recipe, which only uses barley flour. Whisk 1 cup of barley flour with 1½ teaspoon of baking powder, ¼ teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of sugar. Whisk separately an egg, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil and ½ cup of water. Add the dry ingredients and add 1/3 cup of raisins. Bake at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes (until golden brown) filling the muffin tins halfway. It should make 6 muffins. Like white flour, barley flour can be used as a thickener. Give it a try the next time you make a sauce or gravy.
You end up having to cook whole wheat barley longer than pearl barley. In fact, it can take up to twice as long to cook, and I guess that’s why it hasn’t become as popular as other starches. You can reduce the time by soaking it overnight (if you’re good at planning ahead). However, a pressure cooker will cut the time down to about 40 minutes. While other grains double in size when cooked, barley expands to about four times its grain size.
Because it takes so long to cook, most recipes require you to prepare it before adding it to other foods, unless you are using a crock pot. So if you only add it to stews, soups, salads, or stews, you need to cook it first. It has a great nutty flavor that is hard not to like. Pair it with parsnips to expand that nutty flavor. For vegetarians, it also adds a chewy texture that makes up for the lack of meat. Adding beans to the pot makes it a complete protein and makes for more leftovers.
If you have a favorite recipe that includes potatoes, rice, or pasta, give it an extra kick by substituting barley for these starches. It will be a pleasant surprise for both you and your family. Barley can handle any type of spice you want to add to it, be it hot peppers or slightly aromatic herbs. I like to use Sichuan peppers with barley, thyme, and sage. Whether you sweeten the flavor with cinnamon for breakfast or use it in a sturdy soup, feel free to spice up the barley with any of your favorite seasonings.