Barley is available mainly in 3 forms:
- Hulless Barley.
- Hulled Barley.
- Pearl Barley.
Hulless barley is a whole grain. It is the most minimally processed form of barley. In this form, the inedible outer layer (the hull or shell) is loosely attached to kernels and naturally falls off during harvesting. There is no further processing required to remove the hull in this form. Its bran and endosperm layers are intact.
Hulless barley is considered the healthiest form of barley.
Hulled barley is also a whole grain. It is the least processed form of barley. Its inedible outer layer (called the hull layer) has been removed. But its bran and endosperm layers might remain intact.
Hulled barley is healthier than pearl barley. Cooking hulled barley takes more time than pearl barley.
Pearl barley is a processed and polished form of barley. The fibrous outer hull and bran layers have been removed in this form. Some parts of the endosperm layer are also removed.
Pearl barley is the least healthy form of barley. It is not recommendable in a whole-food plant-based diet. Cooking pearl barley is easier than hulled barley.
But if you choose pearl barley over white rice, it will be considered the better choice. Pearl barley contains 1/3rd of the caloric value of white rice.
Barley contains gluten. If you are looking for gluten-free grains, millets are the best choice, and brown, black and red rice are better.
Difference between Pearl and Hulled Barley
|Pearl Barley||Hulled Barley|
|Hulled layer removed||Hulled layer removed.|
|Bran layer removed||Bran layer intact|
|Some parts of the endosperm layer removed||Endosperm layer intact|
|Easier to cook||Hard to cook|
|Less protein||More protein|
|Less fibre||More fibre|
|More carbs||Fewer carbs|
|Less potassium||Almost double potassium content|
|Less Manganese||More Manganese|
|Less Magnesium||More Magnesium|
Sub-types of Hulless, Hulled & Pearl Barley
Some other forms are also available in the market.
Cutting barley kernels into several pieces makes barley grits. It can be whole grain if obtained from hulless or hulled barley. It is not considered a whole grain if obtained from pearl barley.
Barley ﬂakes are like rolled oats or oatmeal. It can be whole grain if obtained from hulless or hulled barley. It is not considered a whole grain if obtained from pearl barley.
The process to make barley flakes include:
- Steaming kernels.
It is prepared by steaming kernels then rolling and drying them. You can quickly cook barley flakes than other forms of barley.
Barley flour is the ground form of barley. Barley flour is similar to wheat flour. It can be whole grain if obtained from hulless or hulled barley. It is not considered a whole grain if obtained from pearl barley.