Lemon Barley Water

Lemon barley water

The Spruce

Prep: 5 mins
Cook: 15 mins
Total: 20 mins
Servings: 5 to 6 servings
Yields: 5 to 6 cups
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
175 Calories
1g Fat
47g Carbs
2g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 5 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 175
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 1g 1%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 14mg 1%
Total Carbohydrate 47g 17%
Dietary Fiber 5g 18%
Total Sugars 32g
Protein 2g
Vitamin C 84mg 418%
Calcium 49mg 4%
Iron 1mg 7%
Potassium 309mg 7%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

Lemon barley water is an old-fashioned tonic that was once given to the weak as an alternative source of nourishment. In fact, it dates back to the ancient Egyptians. It's still a nourishing, revitalizing drink these days that can be enjoyed hot or cold. Barley is loaded with B and E vitamins, antioxidants, and 8 grams of fiber per 1/4 cup raw.

In Mexico, lemon barley water is one variety of a popular street beverage known as aguas frescasBrits,
Australians and Asians all have their own varieties drunk either chilled or warm. Some people use sugar in their recipes, but try honey for a more intense flavor. If you have any fresh ginger handy, finely grate about 1 tablespoon of it and boil it with the barley for a gingery kick.

Barley adds body and a nutty flavor to the drink. Pearl barley or pearled barley is the variety best suited for this recipe—pearled barley just means that the bran has been removed through a polishing process and has been steam treated for quicker cooking. Use the leftover barley to make a tasty side dish, add it to soup, or make risotto.

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How to Make Your Own Lemon Barley Water

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup pearl barley

  • 2 medium lemons, zested and juiced

  • 6 cups water

  • 1/2 cup honey

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for lemon barley water
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  2. Place the barley in a sieve and rinse under cold water until water runs clear.

    Barley being rinsed in a colander
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  3. Place barley in a 2-quart saucepan with grated lemon zest and 6 cups of water.

    Barley in a pan with water and lemon zest
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  4. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

    Barley boiling on the stovetop
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  5. Strain mixture into a heatproof bowl. Reserve the barley for another use.

    Barley in a colander next to strained liquid in a bowl
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  6. Add honey to the bowl and stir to dissolve.

    Honey next to bowl of barley water with wooden spoon
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  7. Stir in lemon juice and serve hot or then let the mixture cool to room temperature.

    Squeezed lemons next to barley water
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  8. Pour into bottles and refrigerate until chilled. Serve and enjoy!

    Barley water in bottles
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How to Store

Barley water will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. If you like to enjoy barley water hot, you can reheat it on the stove or in the microwave.

Tips

Don't toss that barley! With a little more cooking, the grain can be used in a variety of applications:

  • The barley will only be partially cooked after making barley water. Pearl barley needs to simmer for at least 30 minutes (and up to an hour) in a 2:1 ratio of water or broth to grain. The barley is done cooking when it is tender with a bite, like al dente pasta, but not hard.
  • Use barley in salads or pilafs, as a hearty grain in soups and stews, or as a grain base and pile vegetables, meat, herbs, and sauces on top.

What Are the Benefits of Barley Water?

Barley water and barley tea have been enjoyed by various cultures for thousands of years as a health beverage. Some studies have been done about the affect of barley water on health, with more research needed. Current research shows that barley water contains antioxidants and may help lower cholesterol and assist in regulating blood sugar.

Article Sources
The Spruce Eats uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Etoh, H., Murakami, K., Yogoh, T., Ishikawa, H., Fukuyama, Y., & Tanaka, H. (2004). Anti-oxidative compounds in barley tea. Bioscience, biotechnology, and biochemistry68(12), 2616–2618. https://doi.org/10.1271/bbb.68.2616