Barley grain is for more than just soup or beer.
Although this is a truthfully delicious and nutritious grain, more than half of the barley grown in the US is used only for beer. Most of what remains is used for livestock.
Finding whole organic barley outside of health food stores takes a little bit of effort. Often most "whole" versions will still be missing the hull, so shop wisely. Organic "hulled barley" (meaning the hull [outer protective ‘shell’] is still on) has far more fiber and minerals than pearled barley which has been stripped of the germ and the bran and polished up to six times to give it a smooth surface. Pearled barley is often what is found in vegetable and beef soups.
Hulled barley should be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container or kept away from light, heat, and moisture. If kept in this manner it will stay fresh for up to several months or longer. Since most all of the oils which could go rancid have already been removed, pearled barley can be kept at room temperature for a much longer period of time.
Substitute hulled barley for any recipe where you see pearled barley, but keep in mind that it will take approximately two hours to cook, much longer than the 45 minutes recommended for pearled. You can start by pre-cooking the hulled barley well before it’s needed in the recipe. You can also serve it cooked alone with some simple seasoning as a side dish or in grain salads as you would wheat kernels.
Barley grain is versatile and used worldwide for more than just soup or fermenting beverages. Give it a try in a tasty corn-bread like batter bread or as an addition to your other grains in loaf bread.