Using barley

Date posted: 03 March 2014

Barley is a pretty handy crop... and it tastes great!

Australia produces around 2.5 million tonnes of malting barley (barley for human consumption) and 4.5 million tonnes of feed barley (barley for stock food).

For barley to be ‘malt grade’, that is the premium grade for human consumption, buyers look for certain quality traits including round, bright, plump grains (large kernel size), high malt extract, good hectolitre weight, no chemical contamination, free of mould or weather staining and an intact husk. 

Grain standards are strict and are tested regularly along the supply chain to ensure all quality parameters are met.

The bulk (around 95%) of malt quality barley grown in Australia is used to make malt for beer production. The rest is used in food production.

You can find barley, often labelled as malt, in a range of food products. From breakfast cereals, to breads, to confectionary, drinks, malted milkshakes and biscuits. 

Health food shops, and some supermarkets, are a great place to source nutritious barley products. Here you can find barley flour to use in breads and biscuits, pearl barley for soups and stews, flaked barley for use in cereals and barley malt used to make homemade muesli bars. 

Barley and barley malt is low in fat and GI, contains E and B group vitamins and is high in fibre.  Barley is also high in beta-glucan, a soluble fibre which helps lubricate the gut wall and ‘activates the immune system’. Eating beta-glucan can help reduce cholesterol, control blood sugar and maintain body weight.

Did you know?

  • Barley was the preferred food of Gladiators!  While training, Gladiators of the Roman
  • Empire ate barley due to its nutritional reputation for ‘building strength’. Barley (Hordeum vulgare) was so important to the Gladiators that they were known as ‘hordearii’ or “barley-men”.
  • South Australian farmers produce and harvest enough barley each year to make 25 billion bottles of beer, which is almost enough to fill the MCG to the top of the grandstand!
  • Shochu producers in Japan source high quality Australian malt barley. Shochu is a Japanese distilled alcoholic spirit which requires certain quality parameters.  Australian growers are exporting their high quality malt to suit this niche market.

References

Barley Australia
SA Grains Market Overview
Western Australian Department of Agriculture and Food: Barley Products