Cooking with barley

Barley is a versatile grain that helps lower your cholesterol. It so easy to use and has a great taste and texture, you’ll wonder why you didn’t “Go Barley” sooner!


Pearl versus pot barley

Both pot and pearl barley have been put through a pearling machine or pearler. The machine bounces the barley around a grinding wheel in order to remove the outer inedible hull and polish the kernel — this process is called pearling. The longer the grain stays in the pearling machine, the more polished it becomes. Pot barley is pearled for a shorter amount of time and still has most of the barley bran intact.

Pearl barley is pearled for a longer amount of time — it is more refined and has most of the bran removed. While pearl barley has most of its bran removed, barley fibre is found throughout the entire kernel so pearl barley is still a very healthy option.


Cooking with pearl and pot barley

Cook your barley on the stovetop, in a rice cooker, in a covered casserole dish in the oven or in a slow cooker. Each of these cooking methods has their own advantage.

  • Stove top: bring your barley to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 50 minutes.
  • Rice cooker: barley will cook in the same amount of time as brown rice — approximately one cycle in a rice cooker.
  • Oven: place your barley and liquid in a covered casserole pan/dish? and cook it in the oven. If you are cooking something else in the oven, this saves time and energy.
  • Slow cooker: cook your barley in a slow cooker for 3 to 4 hours on low heat.


How to bake with barley flour

Barley flour is whole grain flour; as such, it increases your fibre intake and, in turn, your health. Barley flour is particularly is high in both soluble and insoluble fibre. The soluble fibre in barley—specifically, the beta-glucans — help reduce cholesterol, while the insoluble fibre helps keep you full and your digestive tract healthy. In some recipes—muffins, quick breads or cookies — you can swap barley flour at a one-to-one ratio. This is not the case for yeast bread recipes — like our Best Barley Bread. As there is not enough gluten in barley flour to properly develop the bread, we recommend swapping one-quarter of your all-purpose flour for barley flour in yeast bread recipes.

Where to buy barley products

Barley products on the market include pearl or pot barley, barley flour and barley flakes.


Pot or pearl barley

You can usually find bags of pearl and pot barley next to dried beans and legumes in the grocery store.


Barley flour

In Western Canada, barley flour is usually available in the grocery store in a 2.5 kg bag. If you can’t find it in the bag, barley flour is available throughout the country in most health and bulk food stores. If you cannot locate barley flour, ask the manager at your local grocery store if they plan on getting some product in stock.


Barley flakes

Barley flakes are usually available at specialty or health food stores. Again, you may have to speak with your local grocer about getting some product in stock.


Malt barley

While there’s a lot of excitement around food barley, we would be remiss if we didn’t connect you with great information about the malt barley industry in Alberta as well as our burgeoning microbrewery industry.