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Oh, Barley - how I love thee!

Let me count the ways-
1. You are wholsome and nutritious.
2. You are tasty and delicious.
3. You are equally good piping hot or chilled in a salad.
4. You are a great addition to soups and stews.

I love barley! And spelt, farro, wheatberries. I don't discriminate with my whole grains. But for some reason I HATE to cook them on the stove.

Has anyone attempted to cook any of these in a rice cooker? Same concept, right? I mean brown rice takes just as long if you simmer it on the stove.

But my rice cooker came with explicit instructions not to put anything but rice and water in it.

Someone say it isn't so....

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  1. Barley is great! Love The Frugal Gourmet's Beef Barley Soup recipe. Lots of ingrediets, but worth it.

    1. Have you tried the oven for cooking grain? Both wheatberries and barley have been very successful using a modified pilau method.

      Now, if you can just explain why barley is stocked in the canned soup section of the grocery store while other grains are with the legumes???

      1. Sparkalina- I'm so with you! I grew up eating kasha (buckwheat) and other whole grains as breakfast porridge, in salads, soups, formed into patties, etc. Do you have trouble cooking barley on the stove because the grains stick together / get mushy? I've always had luck with stovetop kasha by doing the pilaf-method of tossing the grain in a hot fat (like, sauteing onions in olive oil / butter first, then adding the kasha and stirring to coat each grain until you get a nice nutty smell, then adding liquids to simmer). Rinsing the barley grains first might also help wash off extra starches that contribute to mushiness.

        1. Funny, earlier today I was thinking about barley and cooking some up in my rice cooker! Never tried it before, but I have the book called "Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook" and it says to cook 1 cup of pearled barley in 2 cups + 2 T. of water and a pinch of salt.
          For brown barley, it says 1 c. barley to 2.5 cups of water & a pinch of salt, and let brown barley soak in the water for an hour before cooking
          For both types of barely, she suggests letting it "rest" or steam for 15 mins. after the cycle finishes, then fluff with a fork.

          Please report back if you try it! Also....do you use pearled or brown barley? i assume I've always used the pearled, but not 100% sure.

          3 Replies
          1. re: poptart

            I just tried the rice cooker method - and it is a hit! The barley came out perfectly cooked and not the least bit gummy! It is still a little 'chewy' for lack of a better term at the moment. Oh, and the very best part was the crunchy brown bits that stuck to the bottom of the rice cooker pot!

            Now the down side. I pushed the start button and then took my dog for a 20 min walk. When I came back in the house there was water all over the counter and the lid was was almost shaking itself off the pot. Then again I did cook 2 C. of barley instead of just 1!

            This will last me all week for lunches and stuff, so next weekend I will try the oven method and hopefully remember to report back with the results.

            1. re: sparkalina

              Oh, good...thanks for the report. I will try it in my rice cooker this week with 1 c. of barley.
              Did you end up using pearled barley?

              1. re: poptart

                yep, pearled barley. I can't believe the texture difference between this and the stovetop. Maybe because it only takes about 1/2 the time? Or, maybe I was just plain overcooking it on the stove? Who knows. Next week - oven method!

          2. On a related subject - have you tried making it like risotto? Its on my list to try but since hubby doesn't like barley, I have to wait til I'm cooking for the BF who like me, loves the stuff

            1 Reply
            1. re: AlaskaChick

              I made a mushroom-barley risotto recipe from Cooking Light a couple months ago - it turned out really well! Not quite the same texture as a regular risotto - it had a bit more bite than arborio rice does.

              Does your husband know your boyfriend likes barley? ;)