Barley is so good for you, yet it is not very popular. It is great in winter in soups, being filling and nourishing. Yet it also has a cooling property, so works well in drinks for hot weather or for heat producing disease such as fevers.
Here are two barley drinks. I have to be honest – Barley Water is not for me. I find it rather bland. But a “coffee” made from deeply roasting barley, coarsely grinding it and making plunger “coffee” produces a great drink. Despite reports from others, it does not taste like coffee, but it does have a lovely roasted taste that is very pleasant.
Take 1/2 cup barley and place in a saucepan with 2.5 cups water. You can add half a cinnamon stick and some chopped ginger if you desire.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes with the lid off until the grains are softened and cooked. The liquid will reduce by about 1/3.
Strain the water and add a Tablespoon of lemon juice and sweetener (honey, sugar, jaggery) to taste. Taste and add more lemon juice if needed.
Barley water is normally drunk cool but can be consumed while hot. It is best on the day that it is made, but can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 days.
You can vary the flavourings – try mint leaves, orange zest and/or juice, star anise, lemon verbena, maple syrup.
Roasted Barley “Coffee”
Take 1/3 cup barley and place in a dry skillet or heavy pan and toast over heat until it is a deep rich chocolate brown, like coffee beans. Make sure that you stir the barley occasionally so that it toasts evenly and does not burn. It takes about 10 minutes or so. Turn the roasted barley onto a plate or bowl to cool.
Coarsely grind the roasted barley in a coffee grinder or spice grinder. Place the required amount in a coffee plunger, try a couple of teaspoons per cup, and top with water. Allow to seep for 4 or 5 minutes, pour and serve.
You might need to adjust the amount of roasted barley to your taste, depending on how roasted it is.
You can also roast the barley in a 200C – 220C oven.