In BabyStep 5: Grains we give you a long list of grains which can/should be part of your food storage but we really have focused a lot on wheat as it seems to be the most intimidating and the item we are supposed to store the most of. However, we typically encourage people to research and experiment with the other grains until they “figure them out” and find out if their family likes them. Cornmeal or popping corn is one that surprised us with how much we’ve been able to use it and enjoy it. Barley is one that we are still working on figuring out so we put together this post to help motivate us.
What is barley?
Barley is a grain with short, stubby kernels and a hull that is difficult to remove. It is often used in soups or stews as a filler and to add some extra chewiness. It is a good source of fiber and niacin, and is also low in fat with no saturated fat or cholesterol.
Types of barley
Similar to rice, there are two types of barley, a refined (white) variety and a “whole grain” variety. The most common is the white, highly processed “pearl” barley that has had most of its bran and germ removed along with its hull. It is the least nutritious form of barley. The second variety is called “pot” or “hulled” barley and it has been subjected to the same milling process as pearled, but with fewer trips through the polisher. Because of this, it retains more of the nutritious germ and bran.
What type should we store?
Since pearl barley is so highly processed (similar to white rice) it has a much longer shelf life than pot barley. If you enjoy barley and plan to store a fair amount of it, then definitely store mostly pearl barley. However, if you are going to be using it a lot and rotating through it on a regular basis it would be beneficial to store at least some of it in the pot barley variety in order to have the benefit of additional nutrients.
Where do we buy barley?
We occasionally find bags of pearl barley at the grocery store near the beans and rice. Jodi had a bit of trouble cooking it from scratch so she decided to buy a box of Quaker Quick Barley to give her some easy experience with learning to use it in her own recipes. This is found in the same section and typically easier to find than the bags as well. If you can’t find it at your grocery store, or you want to buy it in bulk, there are a few good sources online. We found some pretty good deals on Amazon for a 10 pound bag of pearl barley or a 12 pack of Quick Barley.
How do we use barley?
You may remember from a while back that Jodi tried making a Chicken Barley Chicken recipe found on her box of quick barley. It was actually really yummy. She has also added it to her mom’s famous roast beef stew and it was a delicious addition.
So the bottom line is, barley is not too scary and it’s not even gross. Just buy a small box or bag and look for ways to use it in some of your meals. If you like it then you just discovered another healthy alternative to include in your food storage grains. Yay!