Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Pot Barley or Pearl Barley?

Today I bought some barley at the bulk food store and I got to wondering about the difference between pot barley and pearl barley.

Barley is a grain, low on the glycemic index (so absorbed slowly, thus avoiding large fluctuations in blood sugar) and also low in gluten, but not gluten-free. It contains both soluble and insoluble fibre and is very nutritious. I use it most often in pilafs and soup, but it can also be used, in its flour formation, for baking. Nearly all beer is made using barley, though I'm not sure that the Iowa man who is going to live on beer alone for the 6-week period of Lent will succeed unscathed, since beer, while tasty, does not contain all the nutritional requirements that we need.

Barley kernels are polished to remove the fibrous husk. Pearl barley is more polished than pot barley and takes a bit less time to cook than pot barley, which takes about 40 minutes. When cooked, pearl barley kernels are smaller than pot barley kernels. The ratio of barley to cooking liquid is 1 part barley to 3 parts liquid (water or broth)

More information and recipes may be found at Hamilton's Barley, where barley is grown on a family farm in Alberta.