With so many grains available, it could be easy to forget some of the more traditional grains in the race to find the next big food trend.
It’s easy to relegate barley to a soup thickening ingredient, when in fact this humble but mighty grain offers a whole lot more.
Using barley in recipes enables you to add an ancient grain claim to the product and, in most cases, it is a more cost-effective ingredient. Add in the health benefits and the super food qualities that barley possess, then the case for barley is hard to ignore. Far from being limited to soups and broths, barley has a role to play at the breakfast, lunch and dinner tables; not to mention in desserts and drinks.
So, where could you use barley, and what are the benefits?
Kick start your day with a barley-packed breakfast
Who doesn’t want to be a Viking! Porridge can be made using barley in place of oats, and when you use wholegrain barley, which has Nordic roots and were popular with the Vikings, you too are starting your day as a Viking would have whilst getting maximum fibre from the grain.
Wholegrain barley takes quite a long time to cook, so if you are looking for a quicker cook option, you can use pearled barley grains, which also give a good texture to the porridge.
If you want a creamier porridge whilst maintaining the health benefits, wholegrain barley flakes can be used. And mini pearled barley flakes give you the ultimate convenience in terms of porridge making, as they are very quick to hydrate.
And if porridge isn’t your breakfast of choice, barley flakes can be added to muesli blends and granolas as a substitute for some of the oats. Doing so increases the amount of dietary fibre in the products whilst reducing the fat content as oats are naturally higher in fat. In addition, the barley gives a nutty flavour and enables an ancient grain claim to be made.
A lunchtime or evening barley boost
When most people think of barley, they automatically think of broths and soups. Traditionally used as an addition, the plump grains of barley help add substance to the soup or broth and make it more filling.
However, it also works well in a number of other main meals. Whilst it needs a slower cook to get the right texture, using barley as a replacement for white rice in sticky dishes such as risottos, pilaffs and paellas results in rotund grains that give good texture, especially in a creamy risotto base.
Often used in vegetarian burger patties, cooked pearled barley grains can also be combined with beef in burgers to add moistness, make them tender and add nutritional benefits. Similarly, pot and pearled barley grains added to stews and casseroles add nutrients and bulk out the dish, reducing the amount of meat required.
If you are seeking to create a stir fry that is visually different from competitors, pearled barley can give you that difference, with the added bonus of extra nutrients and bulking out the meat or vegetables.
Get your just desserts with barley
Developing a milk-based creamy pudding? Substituting pearled barley for rice adds cooking time, but the plump grains give texture as well as a nutty flavour to the pudding. It also adds more fibre, even if you are using brown rice.
It may sound unlikely, but you can even add barley to ice cream. Toasted barley can be used to infuse flavour into milk used for making ice cream: it pairs well with malt flavours.
Added fibre for baked goods
Barley can be used in lots of baked goods in flour, flaked and kibbled format. Cooked pearl barley can even be used for making breads.
Whilst barley flour does contain some gluten, there is not enough for the dough to effectively rise. Because of this it is mainly used in conjunction with wheat flour or with gluten added. Adding barley flour to bread enhances soluble and insoluble fibre, whilst using flaked or kibbled barley is another way in which you can include barley in the bread to add texture and flavour.
Barley offers lots of scope for creativity, and our experienced NPD team can work with you to build barley into new products. Contact us today and find out more about our products and working with our NPD team.