Cooking Hulled Barley


Hulled barley has a mild flavor and a chewy texture, making it ideal for use in a variety of dishes ranging from soups to casseroles. Although the husk is removed, hulled barley's bran is still intact, making it a higher-fiber option than pearled barley, which cooks faster since it has the bran and husk removed. There are several methods for cooking hulled barley, which allows you to choose the technique that works best for the time and equipment that you have on hand.

Presoaking Hulled Barley

  • Soaking hulled barley for at least eight hours before cooking it shortens its cooking time. If you're running short on time, follow a shortcut soaking method by bringing the barley and liquid to a boil. Let it simmer for two minutes before removing it from the heat and letting it sit for one hour with the lid on. Soaking the grains also lessens their naturally occurring enzyme inhibitors and phytic acid, which can prevent your body from being able to take full advantage of the barley's nutrients. If you soak grains, add a tablespoon or two of an acidic ingredient such as yogurt, buttermilk or kefir to filtered water. The acidity helps neutralize the phytic acid in the barley, making it more digestible.

Traditional Stove-Tip Cooking Method

  • Choose a deep skillet, wide saucepan or a Dutch oven for cooking hulled barley. Using a pot with plenty of space to cook the barley without clumping it together gives you fluffier results, according to the "All New All Purpose Joy of Cooking." Combine about 3 cups of water or broth for every cup of hulled barley in the pot. Bring it to a boil, put a lid on the pot and let it simmer for roughly 60 to 90 minutes, or until the barley is tender.

Pressure Cooking Barley

  • Using a pressure cooker lets you cook hulled barley in a fraction of the time that it takes to cook it on top of the stove. Add 2 to 2 1/2 cups of water or broth for every cup of barley that you’re cooking. Avoid filling the pressure cooker beyond the halfway point. Put the lid on the pressure cooker. Once it reaches full pressure, let the barley cook for roughly 20 to 35 minutes if you've pre-soaked the barley, or as long as 45 minutes for unsoaked barley. Optionally, if you want to add more flavor to the grain, toast it in an oven that's been preheated to 300 degrees Fahrenheit for roughly 20 minutes before pressure cooking it.

Slow Cooking Barley

  • Because hulled barley is such as sturdy grain, it's particularly well-suited to preparing in the slow cooker. Cook it on its own by adding 4 cups of liquid for every 1 cup of barley. Cover and let it cook on low for seven to eight hours or high for three to four hours. You can also cook it as part of a complete dish by combining it with flavorful broth, seasonings such as garlic, salt and pepper, and vegetables such as mushrooms, onions, carrots, celery and scallions.

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