Barley

Barley's been feeding humans for millennia, though it fell out of favor during the last one as people came to see it as low-brow peasant fare. It's most often used in soups and stews, where it serves as both a puffy grain and a thickener, but it also makes a nice side dish or salad. At most markets, you'll have to choose between two types of barley. Hulled barley is the most nutritious, since only the tough outer hulls are polished off. Pearl barley is polished some more, so that the outer bran layer is also scrubbed off. It's less nutritious, but more popular since it's not as chewy as hulled barley and it cooks faster.
Barley
Barley's been feeding humans for millennia, though it fell out of favor during the last one as people came to see it as low-brow peasant fare. It's most often used in soups and stews, where it serves as both a puffy grain and a thickener, but it also makes a nice side dish or salad. At most markets, you'll have to choose between two types of barley. Hulled barley is the most nutritious, since only the tough outer hulls are polished off. Pearl barley is polished some more, so that the outer bran layer is also scrubbed off. It's less nutritious, but more popular since it's not as chewy as hulled barley and it cooks faster.
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barley flakes
To make this, barley kernels are sliced, then rolled flat into flakes. Like rolled oats, rolled barley is usually served as a hot cereal. It takes about 30 minutes to cook.
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barley grits

These are barley kernels that have been toasted, and then cracked into smaller pieces in order to speed up the cooking time. They're a bit hard to find.

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black barley

This is similar to pearl barley, only it has a black exterior.

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hato mugi
Look for these large, pressed barley kernels in Asian markets.
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hulled barley
This is the least processed form of barley, with just the outermost hull removed. While it's chewier and slower to cook than more processed forms of barley, it's rich in fiber and really good for you. Look for it in health food stores.
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pearl barley
This is the most common form of barley, but not the most nutritious. While hulled barley loses only the thick outer hull in the milling process, pearl barley is stripped of the nutritious bran layer as well, leaving just the "pearl" inside. Despite this, it's still fairly nutritious. It takes about an hour to cook.
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pot barley

This isn't as heavily processed as pearl barley, in that the endosperm is left intact, along with the inner pearl of the kernel. It takes about an hour to cook. Look for it in health food stores.

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quick-cooking barley
This is similar to pearl barley in taste and nutrients, but it only takes about 10 minutes to cook since it's been pre-steamed. It's often served either hot as a side dish or cold in a salad.
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sprouting barley
This is unrefined barley, used for making barley sprouts. Don't try to cook with it--it's got a very thick hull.
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