Barley is a member of the grass family and a major cereal grain. This whole grain resembles wheat berries but is somewhat lighter in color. It is extremely versatile with its rich nut-like flavor and an appealing, chewy consistency. It is used as fodder for animals as well as in soups and stews. On being fermented, barley is used as an ingredient in beer and certain distilled beverages. Barley grains, being rich in maltose, are made into malt and used as syrup sweeteners.
There are several types of barley available with the regular grocers. In addition to its culinary uses, it is a great health food packed with nutrients and antioxidants, and has several medicinal properties. Some common forms of barley are as follows.
Hulled Barley: This is the covered barley and is rich in healthy nutrients. It is usually eaten after removing the inedible, fibrous, outer hull. On removing the hull, it is known as dehulled barley, pot barley or scotch barley. When it is cooked, hulled barley takes a longer time to soak but is more nutritious.
Barley Flour: It is often used as a substitute for wheat flour and is obtained by grinding whole barley. Whole barley flour is more nutritious than pearl barley flour as it contains bran in its original form. It has a mild, nutty flavor with comparatively lower levels of calories and higher levels of fiber.
Barley Grass: This is basically the seedling of the barley plant that is consumed in the form of young leaves, and is rich in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids. It is rich in chlorophyll that detoxifies your body from harmful toxins.
Pearl Barley: The process of removing the bran and polishing is known as pearling. This is basically dehulled barley and is one of the most common ingredients for breakfast and snack recipes all over the world. After removing the bran, it is processed into various barley products such as flour, flakes, etc., which resemble the oatmeal and grits.
Barley Green Powder: It is basically the powdered form of barley grass with added vitamins and minerals and is known for its medicinal benefits. It comes in various flavors and is easily soluble. It can also be consumed as barley juice.