barley background

What the hull is pearled barley?

Most barley is used, outer husk and all, for malting, brewing and distilling. But barley is superbly nutritious – adding flavour and texture to a wide variety of foods. The problem is, the husk of the grain is largely indigestible & unpalatable. That means something has to happen before barley grains can be used as a food ingredient. That something is pearling. In other words, de-hulling or removal of the husk.

pearl barley

So, what is the process?

Well, we start by sourcing our barley from the fertile loams and sandy soils of East Anglia, working with farms that have been supplying us for generations. The grain arrives at our site in top condition and, after having been thoroughly checked and cleaned, is passed through a rapidly rotating pearling ‘stone’ which removes the outer husk by abrasion. Overall, the polished white kernel looks very pearl-like, hence the name ‘pearled barley’

Barley pearling-01

Why pearl barley?

In addition to making the grain easily digestible, pearling extends shelf life; ensures cooking time is reduced; and brings a softer chewy texture to a range of foods.

Some pearled barley is sold whole, to be used in risottos, stews, soups and roasts. Here at EDME, we also go on to flake and kibble the grains. This gives flakes and kibbles that are easy to digest; very tasty; and highly nutritious. Flaked pearl barley can be used used in muesli, granola, cereal bars, biscuits, breads and other baked goodies. Kibbled pearl barley can be used in the same products as the flakes. The smaller size, also means they work well in seeded flatbreads and wraps to give the extra crunch.

Energy bar (4)
Barley pearling-02
Pearl barley flakes
Barley pearling-03
Kibbled Pearl Barley

Pave the way for a ‘Beta’ diet

Another attribute of pearl barley is the Beta-glucans. These are soluble fibres that come from the cell walls in the grain.

Beta-glucans are thought to lower the risk for heart disease – and to help prevent the body from absorbing cholesterol from fatty foods.

Not only does it offer Beta-glucans, it also hosts a range of other health benefits. Including being a source of protein with 10.3g per 100g, and also fibre with 9.9g per 100g. What's more, it's low in saturated fat and contains virtually no salt, whilst still providing a great amount of slow-release energy due to its high carbohydrate content.

Looking for an ingredient gem? Make it a pearl.

Just send us a note and we’ll be delighted to give you a shout and discuss your interest in this pearl of an ingredient. Email us here: