Hulled, hull-less and pearled barley - What is the difference?

There is a fair amount of confusion among our customers about the best kind of organic barley to use, not surprising as the differences can be subtle.  Over time, we have seen three main kinds of organic barley become available: Classic "Hulled Barley", Pearled Barley and the lesser-known "Hull-less Barley".

What we would call classic Hulled Barley is a variety of barley with an outer husk that is tightly attached. To make the grain edible, this tight outer husk, or ‘hull’, is removed using a kind of simple rolling/tumbling action. This processing is similar but shorter to what is done to create Pearled Barley. The resulting grains do bear a slight resemblance to each other visually and can cause confusion for people choosing a product. For example, classic Hulled Barley will show some of the bare spots common to Pearled Barley from all the rolling/tumbling. But importantly, the shorter processing means Hulled Barley retains a higher nutrition level.

As you may have guessed, Pearled Barley gets its name from the pale shine created from longer tumbling times when processing.  These longer times mean that not only is the outer hull removed but also most of the bran layer (which is the fiber).  This extra processing creates a grain that is less chewy and cooks more quickly.  Pearled Barley is also sometimes called ‘Pot or Scotch’ barley. Pearled Barley is the most processed, least beneficial of the 3 options from a nutrition perspective. That said, organic Pearled Barley is still a healthy ingredient if you prefer your barley this way as it still retains its protein, vitamin and mineral content.

Whereas Hulled Barley and Pearled Barley are the same species and get their names from the way they are processed, Hull-less Barley, often called Hulless Barley, is actually a completely different variety of barley. This species has an outer hull that is much less tightly attached, and therefore drops off on its own as it is harvested in the field. Being a different variety, and not requiring any rolling/tumbling, it looks different to the naked eye. There are some cooking and taste differences as well. We will go into this aspect a bit more in part 2 of this series.




Thanks for reading this Be Still Farms Blog article. To sign up for more news/articles and/or recipes, click here. For more about us, click here. To shop our certified organic products, click here.

Please comment and share and we look forward to serving you in the future!

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Healthy & Organic Living Blog

Sprouting Sunflower Seeds
Sprouting Sunflower Seeds

So you’ve decided to try sprouting those sunflower seeds?  Well, read on for the full scoop on how to do it and why you should....

Continue Reading

Why Turmeric Root Powder?


Organic Turmeric Root Powder ~ Be Still Farms- Real, Fine OrganicTurmeric is an ancient spice that has become very popular with people interested in healthy eating, and is definitely considered a 'superfood'. For many centuries and everywhere it has been consumed it has been celebrated for its flavor, its nutritional value as well as its medicinal...

Continue Reading

Is oat bran gluten-free by nature? (and oatmeal and steel cut oats?)

Certainly if you have dangerous gluten sensitivity, you should only buy certified gluten free products, even if you believe an item is naturally gluten-free. That being said, Oat Bran and other oat products are considered by many to be naturally gluten-free...

Continue Reading