Barley has been around for thousands of years. It was used by the Ancient Egyptians to make beer and barley bread and is popular in Tibet to make tsampa - dough balls or porridge made by mixing roasted barley flour with yak butter. Pearl barley is also used in Middle Eastern cuisine, as well as in Japanese mugicha tea. It is also commerically made to make barley water - usually sweetened and flavoured with orange or lemon.
Pearl barley is harvested from the barley ears – the hull and outer bran are removed, and the grain polished to a shiny 'pearl', making it more tender to the bite and easier to cook. It has a fairly neutral taste (the taste largely depends on what it is cooked in), a lovely texture, and a good nutritional profile – including protein, B vitamins, iron and calcium.
This versatile grain can be used in salads, hearty soups, stews and pilaf as well as orzotto (an Italian dish similar to risotto but using pearl barley in place of rice). It is a great option to cook in stocks or soups as it absorbs all the flavours from the liquid.
Cooking with Pearl Barley
Rinse thoroughly with cold water before cooking, then add the grains straight to a broth or stew, bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 - 40 minutes.
Pearl barley also makes a great substitute for rice in a risotto - it has a similar capacity for absorbing liquid and the cooking time will be roughly the same.
If you want to add pearl barley to a soup or stew but don’t want the barley to thicken it then cook it separately first. Boil in water for 20-30 minutes and rise before using.
Ingredients: Pearled Barley
For allergens see ingredients in bold.
Due to the way our food is stored and packaged, this product may contain traces of other allergens due to cross-contamination.