It’s About The Barley

Here we are again, another cold, windy dreich February morning.  I was feeling pretty cheesed off and in need of something to lift my spirits.  I could hear some culinary activity in the kitchen only to find my wife making a heart warming pot of Scotch Broth.  There is nothing to comfort you more on a miserable day than a comforting bowl of goodness.  On a personal note, I love the creamy texture that barley adds to a soup.

Whilst watching this activity I was drawn to the jar of barley sitting on the counter and it really got me thinking about these little jewels and the many applications they are used in.

I decided I had to look at this little grain more closely.  Did you know that this really is an ancient grain and there is archaeological evidence it was cultivated in ‘Egypt BC and throughout the centuries has been used across Europe and  Asia?  Our ancestors knew a thing or two. It amuses me that in these times of food poverty many chefs and food magazines and tv shows are offering recipes that are economical allowing your budget to stretch, but actually they are just reverting to what our Grannies did for years as they had families to feed on a limited amount of money with no processed or microwave meals, not to mention a take away, it was stews, soups etc which were often bulked out with the use of the like of barley or other pulses.  Personally I really love the nutty flavour of barley and am always delighted when Jacqueline makes a barley risotto, it is so filling and comforting.

Another application for this gem of a grain is Lemon Barley water.  Whilst growing up this was alway a refreshing sharp drink that was available in my home.   It allegedly has medicinal properties relating to your bladder, but I don’t know if that is an Old Wives Tale or not, but either way this is a lovely drink.  I have never tried to make it, but have just purchased a bottle to enjoy.

Well so much for this clever little grain I have not even touched on my favourite use of this wonderful little gem – of course its use in the making of Whisky.  My understanding is that the malting industry purchases nearly Two Million tonnes of barley annually which is approximately one-third of the UK crop.  Some distillers will proudly only use Scottish grown barley.  I believe Balvenie distillery cultivates its own barley for malting.

Once this magical little grain has done its business in the production of a bottle of Whisky it travels around the world.  Apparently there are 53 bottles of Scotch Whisky exported every second to markets all over the world – an amazing export from our fine land.

With the comforting smell of my Scotch Broth nearing completion of the cooking process I really salute the power of the Pearl Barley and all that this humble grain brings to us, and needless to say later in the evening I shall bow my head with a nod of appreciation and respect for this gem of a grain, in the form of a fine Single Malt Scotch Whisky

On a footnote, many years ago my  favourite blend was Stewart’s Cream of the Barley. But sad to say it is no longer in production.

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