How does pearl barley differ from other barley types?


Quick Answer

Pearl barley has had its outer bran layer polished or "pearled" away. Other types of barley include hulled, hulless, grits, flakes and flour. Barley that is growing in a field or has just been harvested is called covered because the outer shell is intact.

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Full Answer

Pearl barley ranges in color from tan to white, with lighter colors indicating that more of the outer bran layer has been removed. Pearl barley is common in supermarkets because it cooks more quickly than whole grain barely. The fiber content is lower than whole barley. Nonetheless, though pearl barley is a refined instead of a whole grain, it still contains fiber in the kernels.

Hulled barley is considered a whole grain because the tough outer hull has been removed carefully to leave the outer bran layer. Hulless is a type of barley with a loose outer hull. The loose hull just falls off, leaving the outer bran layer intact. Hulled, hulless and pearl barley kernels are sometimes cut into pieces, resulting in grits.

Barley kernels can get steamed, rolled and dried to form barley flakes. Manufacturers can make barley flakes from either whole grain or pearl kernels. Barley flakes have a faster cook time, with pearl barley flakes cooking the fastest. Barley flour consists of ground-up kernels suitable for thickening soups or using in conjunction with wheat flour for baking. Barley flour can not be used as a replacement, though, because its gluten does not promote sufficient rising.

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