Quick-cooking barley at health-food stores

Burning Questions

October 05, 2005|By ERICA MARCUS

I have come across several recipes that call for quick-cooking barley but have been unable to find any in local stores. Any ideas where quick-cooking barley is sold or who the manufacturer is?

Mother's sells a quick-cooking barley that tends to be found in health-food stores and in the health-food sections of supermarkets. You can order directly from Mother's at mothersnatural.com (call 630-595-8919).

Frankly, I had never heard of quick-cooking barley, so this question gave me an opportunity to learn something. I called on Cynthia Harriman of the Whole Grains Council and she explained everything barley to me.

Like all grains, barley kernels are covered with an inedible husk. Beneath the husk is the bran, the kernel's outer skin, where much of the fiber is located. Beneath the bran is the endosperm, the meat of the grain, which, in turn, contains the germ.

Unlike wheat, whose husk detaches fairly easily, barley husks really cling to the bran and, thus, said Harriman, "It's almost inevitable that, when you get rid of the husk, you lose some of the bran."

Barley whose husk has been removed but whose bran is largely intact is called hulled barley. Much more commonly available is pearled (or pearl) barley, whose husk and bran have been removed so the resultant grain is white and almost round.

Between these two extremes are products alternately called lightly pearled barley, semi-pearled barley, Scotch barley or pot barley. Because these light-brown varieties still retain much of their bran, said Harriman, "they are best from a health perspective."

Erica Marcus writes for Newsday. E-mail your queries to burningquestions@newsday.com, or send them to Erica Marcus, Food /Part 2, Newsday, 235 Pinelawn Road, Melville, NY 11747-4250.

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