Barley is a versatile and nutritious whole grain Canadian crop making it a staple in our kitchens.
Types of Barley
There are two types of barley, that are commonly available: pot barley and pearl barley. Pot and Pearl barley are very similar. In fact they only differ in how long they have gone through a pearling process, with pearl barley going though longer. This pearling process removes the outer bran, therefore removing some of the fibre. But don’t worry – the beneficial soluble fibre is found throughout the barley grain! Pot and pearl barley cook in about the time amount of time.
Barley flour can also be found in the grocery store and is a great supplement to regular wheat flours. It contains a lot of soluble and insoluble fibres but not a lot of gluten so it shouldn’t be substituted 1:1. Finally, barley flakes are available but you may only find them in health and bulk food stores.
You may not know this, but in Canada barley carries a health claim: Barley can reduce blood cholesterol. This health claim is based on the beta-glucans in barley, a type of soluble fibre. The claim is that 3 grams per day of beta-glucans from barley can help to lower blood cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease.
On top of this health claim, the fibre in barley helps you to feel fuller, longer and gives it a great texture. Barley also contains a wide variety of nutrients including B vitamins and is low in sodium and fat.
Barley and barley products do contain gluten, which is something to avoid if you have celiac disease.
Barley is very versatile and can be used as an alternative to rice or quinoa, eaten as a pilaf, or a salad.
Barley flour can be substituted for part of the wheat flour in your recipe but should not be used to replace all of it.