Barley is a wonderfully versatile cereal grain with a rich nutlike flavor and an attracting chewy, pasta-like consistency, the result of its gluten content. Its appearance resembles wheat berries, although it is slightly lighter in color. Sprouted barley is naturally richly in maltose, a sugar that serves as the basis for both malt syrup sweetener and when fermented, as an ingredient in beer and other alcoholic beverages.
Barley can be discovered in the market in various several forms:
Hulled barley: Like the name indicates, the outermost hull of the grain is all that gets removed in this form of barley. While this makes for a chewier grain that requires more soaking and cooking, it also gives for a more nutritious food. Hulled barley is also sometimes named “dehulled barley,” and it is the one form of barley what would be considered whole grain.
Pearl barley: Various degrees of brushing up, or “pearling” bring place in the production of pearl barley. In addition to a polishing off of the outermost hull, the grain’s bran layer, and even parts of its inside endosperm layer, may be taken during the pearling process. In general, as you move from regular to medium to fine to baby pearl barley, you find increasing loss of nutrients. Pearl barley is much less chewy and quicker cooking than hulled barley, but it is also much lower in nutrients, and would not be considered whole grain.
Pot/scotch barley: In terms of processing, this form of barley falls in between hulled and pearl barley. It’s been polished to remove its outer hull, but the polishing process is not continued for much longer, so that a large amount of the remaining grain is left intact. While pot barley would not technically be considered whole grain, and would lack some of the benefits of hulled barley, it is still a very reasonable nutritional choice and more healthy dense than pearl barley. In many countries, pot barley is popular in soups – thus the origin of its name.
Barley flakes: Flattened and sliced, barley flakes are like in shape to rolled oats. Barley flakes can be made from hulled, hulless, or pearl barley, and can be significantly another in nutrient substance for this reason.
Barley grits: Barley that has been toasted and cracked, barley grits are similar in appearance to bulgar. Barley grits can be made from hulled, hulless, or pearl barley, and can be significantly different in nutrient substance for this reason.
The Latin name for barley is Hordeum vulgare.
1 pound beef stew meat, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups sliced carrots
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup sliced celery
2 cloves garlic cloves, minced
2 cups sliced baby portobello mushrooms
1 (14.5 ounce) can stewed tomatoes
1 cup water
1 cup dry red wine
1 cup beef broth
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup uncooked medium pearl barley
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup cold water
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar Minced fresh parsley
- In a Dutch oven, cook beef in oil until meat is no longer pink. Add the carrots, onion, celery and garlic; cook for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms, stewed tomatoes, water, wine, broth, bay leaves, salt, thyme and pepper.
- Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; covering and simmer for 1 hour. Add barley; cover and simmer 45 minutes longer or until barley and meat are soft.
- Combine flour and cold water until smooth. Gradually stir into pan. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Discard bay leaves. Stir in balsamic vinegar just before serving. Sprinkle each serving with parsley if desired.
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