Barley Storage, Cooking Tips, Measures, and Substitutions

Barley flour cannot be completely substituted for all-purpose flour

Bean and Barley Vegetable Soup

 The Spruce

Like many grains, barley is a multi-tasker. As far as cooking is concerned, we know it best as those little nutty pearls of hearty goodness often found in soups and stews or eaten as a cereal. Learn about barley, and get some cooking tips before delving into the barley recipes.

Barley measurements and substitutes
The Spruce / Alison Czinkota

Barley Storage

Like all grains, barley should be kept in an airtight container to discourage moisture and vermin intrusion. Store in a cool, dark cupboard for up to one year.
Barley flour should also be stored airtight. It will last about a month on the shelf and 2 to 3 months in the refrigerator or freezer.

Barley Cooking Tips and Measures

  • Barley flour may be substituted for all or part of the wheat flour in recipes. However, due to its low-gluten content, you may wish to combine with a high-gluten flour when using it for baked goods intended to rise, such as bread and cakes.
  • Barley flour makes an excellent thickening agent, particularly for soups and stews.
  • Pearl barley works well in soups, stews, and salads since it readily soaks up the flavors in the broth or dressing.
  • Hulled barley takes quite a while to cook, upwards of one hour per cup in 3 to 4 cups of liquid. Pre-soaking for several hours is recommended, and the soaked barley may be cooked in the same soaking water.
  • Pearl barley needs no pre-soaking and usually cooks within 30 to 45 minutes. Quick barley will cook in 10 to 12 minutes.
  • When cooking pearl barley, cook in twice as much liquid as the barley measure.
  • About 1 1/2 cups cooked barley will enhance 2 quarts of soup or stew.
  • Cinnamon, garlic, marjoram, parsley, and thyme go well with barley.
  • Barley flour gives a cake-like texture to baked goods, but it needs to be combined with all-purpose flour for leavened bread. Use 1/4 cup barley flour plus 3/4 cup all-purpose flour to replace all-purpose flour in a leavened (yeast) recipe.
  • 1 cup pearl barley = 3-1/2 to 4 cups cooked barley
  • 1 cup quick barley = 3 cups cooked
  • 1 pound pearl barley = about 2 cups uncooked
  • 1 cup uncooked pearl barley = 6 servings

More About Barley and Barley Recipes