Barley, an ancient cereal grain like rice, quinoa, and oats, is packed with fiber, has a chewy texture, and a nutty flavor. Barley is versatile and a great addition to many different meals! Whether you’re a barley expert or barely into barley, read on for more information or jump to the recipes.
Barley can be found in different varieties including whole grain and quick cooking. Whole grain barley is a good source of fiber and contains protein, magnesium, and iron! Visit the Eye on Nutrition series to learn more about these and other nutrients and checkout the Meals of the Month series to find nutrient-specific recipes.
Tips & Ideas to Share
Barley can substitute for a variety of grains like brown rice and can help bring new life into an old standby.
There is no need to rinse barley before using it.
To enhance the flavor of barley, heat the kernels in a skillet for a few minutes or cook it in broth instead of water.
You can save time by cooking extra barley and freezing it. Add it to soups or salads as you need it.
Types of Barley
You can review your State agency’s authorized food list to see if and what kind of barley is available in your State WIC Program and advise participants how to adjust recipes as needed.
- Barley (whole grain): A minimally processed whole grain, the inedible outer hull of barley is removed, and the bran and germ stay intact. Barley has a tan/yellow color and rugged texture when dry. This barley is the whole grain version!
- Quick Barley (not a whole grain): Quick barley can be made from whole grain barley or pearl barley, but most quick barley found in the marketplace is processed from pearl barley. It looks tan in color with a rugged, flakey texture. Quick barley has been partially cooked and then dried so it can be cooked in 10 to 15 minutes at home.
- Pearl Barley (not a whole grain): This variety of barley has been processed to remove some or all of the outer bran layer and hull so it is not considered a whole grain. Whole grain barley can usually be substituted for pearl barley in recipes. Just be sure to adjust the cooking time!
- Other types: Other types of barley available may include hulled and hulless barley, barley grits, barley flakes, and barley flour. The tips and recipes provided here refer to whole grain barley available on some State agency’s authorized food list. Not all foods may be available in every State, US Territory, or Indian Tribal Organization due to the flexibility they have in selecting foods for their WIC food packages.
Tips for Cooking and Using
Cooking: To cook barley, combine 1 cup of the dried barley with 3 cups of liquid (water or broth) in a large pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 45 to 60 minutes.
Yield: 1 cup of dried barley yields about 3.5 cups of cooked barley.
Single serving: For a single serving use ¼ cup of barley and ¾ cup of liquid. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer until liquid is absorbed.
Storage: Store uncooked barley in the pantry for up to 6 months. Dried, uncooked barley can also be stored in the freezer for up to 1 year. Once cooked, barley can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Uses: Barley can replace rice in stir fries, curries, and risottos. It is a common ingredient in soups and can also be added to salads and pilafs. The nuttiness of barley pairs well with flavors such as mushrooms, root vegetables, and apples.