Why barley is great for the food service sector
When it comes to cooking with grains, most professional chefs are likely more than familiar with using oats, corn, rice and even quinoa. Yet barley is a healthy, versatile and easy-to- use grain that’s widely accessible in Canada.
Barley is a great addition to any restaurant’s menu — here are just four reasons why.
1. It’s a versatile ingredient
Barley is a grain available in several forms that can be used in a number of creative ways. While beef and barley soup might be the most commonly known use for the grain, it’s far from the only one. In reality, in its pearl or pot form, barley has a chewy, pasta-like texture that makes it a good addition to fresh salads. Also in this form, it can be cooked into just about any dish including chillis, stews, stuffings, or added to puddings, mousses or hamburger patties as a thickening agent or for texture.
There’s also barley flour and barley flakes, which can be used for dishes like waffles, breads, granola and desserts. With malted barley, chefs have even more options to work barley into their menu, like in milkshakes and ice creams. Barley adds flavour complexity and texture to a dish, be it fancy dessert, a casual lunch or a comforting dinner.
2. It’s a nutrient-dense ingredient
More and more, diners are paying attention to what they eat and don’t want to sacrifice their health on a meal out. Chefs can keep their menu healthy by adding barley, a fibre-rich and protein-rich grain with a low Glycemic Index, meaning it keeps you full longer and can even help with weight-loss.
It’s also packed with essential vitamins and nutrients including folate, iron, calcium, zin and potassium. And in 2012 Health Canada found that barley (specifically the beta- glucan fibre found in it) can decrease bad cholesterol. Simply, it’s a super-food!
3. You’re using a Canadian product
After wheat and canola, barley is Canada’s third largest crop. Roughly 23,000 farmers in Canada produce eight million tonnes of barley each year. It’s grown for food and malting purposes, as well as general purposes like animal feed, yet only one per cent of Canadian-grown barley is used for human consumption.
However, it’s easily accessible and can be found in most grocery stores, and
unlike other “super” grains in grocery stores like quinoa, barley isn’t pricey. It is affordable to add to the menu, and doing so supports Canadian farmers and the Canadian economy.
4. It’s tasty
Maybe most importantly for professional chefs, barley tastes good! It has a subtle, nutty taste that blends well with other flavours or ingredients. Yet, for chefs who are only beginning to use barley in their menu (and for those diners who haven’t yet discovered their love of the super-grain) barley won’t overpower a dish.
How much do you know about barley? Take the barley quiz and find out!
Think you know everything about using Canadian barley in the food service industry? Or maybe you don’t really know much at all and just want to learn more? Test your knowledge by taking this “True or False” quiz. Chances are, you’ll come away with a better understanding of why barley can be a great addition to any menu.
Tips from chefs
The chef de cuisine at Last Best Brewing and Distilling on how he perfectly paired beer and a barley-focused dish and why he continues to experiment with barley for the brewpub’s menu.read more