Basics of barley: The original grain
Three things you may not know about barley
- History places barley at the front of the grain train - it was the original grain to be cultivated by humans.
- Alberta produces about half of Canada's barley, divided into two types - malt barley and feed barley.
- A bushel of barley yields a bushel of malt; a bushel of malt yields a barrel of beer, or 333 bottles.
Two kinds of barley to keep on hand
- Aside from everyone's favourite barley product - mushroom barley soup - try experimenting with the following: malt vinegar, for use with real English fish and chips; barley flakes, high in dietary fibre, for great porridge on cold winter mornings.
Two ways to try barley right now
- Use pearl barley like risotto in a casserole, with mushrooms and white wine.
- Make scones using barley flour - you'll get a darker product, a nuttier taste and a moister texture.
One tip you can't live without
- Bring out the nutty flavour of barley by toasting barley flakes - similar to rolled oats - before cooking into porridge, granola or muffins. Use a heavy dry pan over low heat, and cook the flakes until golden brown, about 10 minutes.
One thing to remember at the grocery store
- Pearl barley has had its outer hull removed and been ‘polished,' and is great for soups and grain salads. Pot barley or Scotch barley is less processed, if you like a chewier texture. Use it with winter vegetables in stews and casseroles.