Barley water is one of my favourite “old fashioned” drinks that I’ve taken since my childhood days. Till now, it is one of the first cooling Chinese herbal drink that I make whenever anyone in my family has a sore throat, fever or display any heat-related signs. So, before we go running off to see a doctor, we would be gulping down lots of this cooling barley drink to soothe any minor ailments.
Pearl Barley Health Benefits
For such a tiny grain, it does have a lot of nutritional value. If you feel that you’ve taken too much rich, oily and fried food, pearl barley water is great to help detoxify your body. Each time I take this drink I feel the urge to visit the bathroom more often as barley water has powerful diuretic effects.
Important health benefits of barley include:
#1. High dietary fibre which helps to lower cholesterol, fights constipation and improve digestion.
#2. A good source of vitamins and minerals which includes selenium, B vitamins, copper, chromium, phosphorus, magnesium and niacin.
#3. Helps with weight loss as it is low in fat and calories.
#4. Prevents heart disease, high blood pressure and dangerous blood clotting. (source)
This cooling drink is a traditional ‘cure’ in many Chinese households for conditions ranging from sore throats to pimply skin. It reduces internal heat in the body and aids in reducing inflammation.
When my son was born, a friend advised me to replace his plain water with unsweetened barley water as drinking formula milk was deemed too heaty. Some Chinese mothers use unsweetened barley water to mix with milk formula for their babies. It is believed that the cooling properties of barley water will balance the “heaty” infant formula milk.
More information about the health benefits of drinking barley water can be found here.
Are there any uses for leftover cooked barley grains?
Most people discard the grains after drinking the barley water but I usually consume them along with the drink. My son loves them too. Use them in your pasta dishes, stew, salad, oatmeal, porridge and any of your favourite dishes. I keep my leftover barley grains in the fridge and eat them the next day. The cold, soft barley with a cooked pasta like consistency make a lovely dessert.
So what do you do with leftover barley? Do you eat them or use them for other dishes or just toss them away? Share with me in your comments below!
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- ½ cup pearl barley
- 2 litres water (adjust water according to how you like the consistency)
- 6 stalks of pandan leaves - tied into a knot
- ½ cup candied wintermelon (optional)
- Rock sugar to taste (use less if you're adding candied wintermelon)
- Wash and drain the pearl barley until the water is much clearer.
- Place water, barley, candied wintermelon and pandan leaves into a soup pot and bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, lower the heat and let it simmer for about 30 minutes or so till the barley expands and softens. Top up with more water if necessary.
- Add in rock sugar 5-10 minutes before turning off the heat. Stir until the rock sugar is fully dissolved. Discard the pandan leaves.
- Serve hot. Or leave it to cool and chuck it into the fridge and enjoy it chilled.