When people ask is barley gluten free, they are usually referring to whether or not a barley based product can be eaten. Gluten is a protein found in most grains. Although not all grains contain gluten, those that do are the ones most commonly asked about in terms of being gluten free. Barley and flour, both derived from barley plant, are used as a main ingredient in many foods.
There are several types of barley. They range from white, black, cyan, durum, keno, pomegranate, pearl barley and sprout. The last is a hybrid variety that were created when two parents ate an apple and ate the seeds, and their children were allergic. Since the offspring did not have any of the common symptoms, it was given the name ‘islaves’. Thus, the seed is the basis of the breed. Most of these products are derived from the pearl barley plant.
Barley is one of the most popular grain for breads, muffins, rolls, breakfast cereals, pasta, pizza dough, cookies and cakes, and any other sweet product. It is a staple of the diabetic diet because it contains no gliadin. This means that a diabetic cannot get allergic reactions to the grains that contain it, including whole grain barley. This is why it is often used as a low carb ingredient.
When you are buying products that say they contain barley, make sure you read labels carefully. Some products may still contain wheat, rye or oats, but they will state “gluten-free” on the label instead of saying “barley”. Products that say “ultra-white” or “pales” may also contain barley. If you have health problems, you should contact your doctor before starting a barley-free diet.
You can find pearl barley in two forms: one is the roasted kind that have a slightly sweeter taste than the rest, and two is the “Pearl Barley” which have a fuller flavor than the other variety. The unroasted pearled barley is lighter in color than the pearl barley, which is what makes it the best choice for breads, muffins and rolled cereal. The “Pearl Barley” is more expensive than the regular whole grain barley, but it is also higher in protein and contains few calories.
Since whole-grain barley contains mostly protein, this is a good choice if you are trying to lose weight because it contains lower calories. If you want to go all out and try something different, you could experiment with the varieties of barley. For instance, you could try using hulled barley for pancakes, muffins, or other breakfast items. Or you could try using inedible outer shell removed barley for meats and poultry products. You might be surprised by how the different varieties of barley can change the products you prepare.