Pearled Barley

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

There are hull-less barleys, but most food varieties have adherent hulls that are removed as part of the milling process. Barley has more of its grain removed than does rice, the other grain frequently prepared as a whole grain. This is partly because barley bran is brittle and doesn’t come off in large flakes, so it can’t be removed during normal milling; and partly because processors eliminate the deep crease in the barley grain to give it a more uniform appearance. The process of “pearling” in a stone mill removes the hull and then portions of the bran. “Pot barley” has lost 7–15% of the grain, but retains the germ and some of the bran, and so more nutrients and flavor. Fine pearled barley has lost the bran, germ, and aleurone and subaleurone layers, a loss of about 33% of the grain’s initial weight.