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How to Cook Barley


Barley has been used for human consumption for the longest time. This is due to its unique flavor and nutritional value. Barley is an excellent source of dietary fiber, containing both soluble and insoluble fiber. Unlike other grains which only have fiber in the outer bran layer, barley contains fiber throughout the entire kernel. The whole grains are rich in vitamins, minerals and amino acids. Barley is known to reduce the health risks of some diseases facing Americans today. Barley is an excellent source of beta-glucan which lowers bad cholesterol, hence reducing the risk of heart disease. Beta-glucan is also effective in maintaining blood sugar levels, hence reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes [source: Montana].

Here's how to cook different types of barley.

Pearl barley

  1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.
  2. Add 1 cup of pearl barley and return to boil.
  3. Reduce the heat.
  4. Cover the pot and cook the barley for 45 minutes or until it's tender and all the water is absorbed.

Hulled barley(whole grain)

  1. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.
  2. Add 1 cup of hulled barley and return to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat.
  4. Cover the pot and cook the barley for 55 minutes.
  5. Drain off any unabsorbed water.

Hulless barley(whole grain)

  1. Bring 4½ cups of water to a boil.
  2. Add 1½cups of hulless barley and return to a boil.
  3. Reduce the heat.
  4. Cook the barley for about 55 minutes.
  5. Drain off any unabsorbed water [source: National Barley Foods Council].

Once you've cooked your barley you can either eat it as is, or add it to salads and casseroles. Of course, barley can also be cooked in soups [source: National Barley Foods Council, Montana].


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