From Field to Kitchen


ONTARIO GRAIN FARMERS grew just over 100,000 acres of barley last year! You may have seen it in a field, and it looks a lot like wheat. Both crops are members of the grass family, and both have grain found in the ear. However, barley has a much stronger nutty flavour, which makes it a great choice in recipes. Barley is high in fibre, and it has a low glycemic index.

Barley has a long history. It was one of the first cultivated grains, over 10,000 years ago. Barley is a competitive crop, so it has the interesting ability to choke out weeds. Depending on the density of the weeds, farmers who grow barley can use less — or even no herbicide. Barley can also be used as a cover crop to prevent nutrient run off, and soil and wind erosion.

Nearly all barley grown in Ontario today is used domestically. A large portion goes to livestock feed, but there are other end uses including food and malt. Malting barley is used to flavour beer and spirits. Barley for human consumption comes in several forms, commonly including de- hulled, pearled, toasted, and barley flakes.

Pearled and whole barley are readily available in Ontario. Pearled barley is processed further to remove the inedible hull, which allows it to cook faster. Barley flour is also available, and it comes from milling either pearled or whole barley. Barley flakes are most often used in cereal and baking. Barley has a chewy, pasta-like texture. It is most often used in soups, stews, salads and more.
For a nutritious and locally grown meal, add barley to your next recipe.

*Please note the November article on soybeans should have read: “The Energy Bites also make a great afternoon snack. They are a good source of protein and fibre both which help to keep you feeling full longer so that helps to carry you through to that dinner hour a little better.”