Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Pearled Barley vs. Hulled Barley and a Whole Grain Primer

Yesterday I wrote about a beef, barley and mushroom soup I made using hulled barley and a reader asked the difference between "hulled" barley and "pearled" barley.

Simply put, hulled barley (right in photo) is a whole grain, meaning the three parts of the seed—bran, germ and endosperm—are intact, providing optimum nutrition. Hulled barley, as its name suggests, has had its inedible, outermost layer—the hull—removed. (All grains grown for human consumption must have their hull removed, if they have one.)

Pearled barley (left in photo) is not a whole grain, since it has been polished (aka "pearled"), processing that removes the nutritious bran layer, making it an incomplete food.

This concept of whole vs. incomplete holds for other grains and grain products. White rice, for example, is rice that has had its bran and germ—and with them essential vitamins, minerals, enzymes, fats, proteins and fiber—removed.

White wheat flour, the main ingredient in so much of our bread, cookies, cakes, muffins, pizza dough, etc., comes from wheat that has been stripped of its bran, germ and, by association, most of its nutrients.

Many believe that these processed grains play an outsized role in our modern diseases (obesity, diabetes, heart disease, etc.), since the endosperm's starches throw the body's insulin regulation mechanism completely out of whack.

The bran and germ are removed for several reasons, including shelf life, cooking time and appearance. (The germ contains some oil, which can go rancid; whole grains take longer to cook; and white is bright.)

The bottom line? Choose hulled barley over pearled, brown rice over white and whole wheat bread over white. They taste better, are rich in nutrients and may help you lose a couple pounds.


The Bag Lady said...

Rob, have you tried baking with white wholewheat flour? King Arthur Flour has it. Great for bread, although I do use about 25% white bread flour with it to get a better rise and crumb.

Chef Rob said...

Bag Lady,

Yes, I have used the white whole wheat four (from Bob's Red Mill). I haven't made bread with it, but for cookies and cakes I'll use it (100 percent) instead of white flour.

Anonymous said...

I was so glad to find this article. I have a korean bag of barley and I had no idea which it was until I saw the side by side picture above. (it's pearled, unfortunately)

Josefina said...

The bran and germ do contain minerals and vitamins but historically, grains were generally consumed refined. Besides nutrients, the bran and germ also contain potent toxins that aren't well neutralized when cooked, fermented or sprouted. In a healthy person, consuming foods high in starches is only beneficial, provided a full range of essential nutrients are eaten along side it.

Anonymous said...

Bran is a insoluble fiber therefore it provides no nutritive value. Even soluble fiber provides a negligible amount of actual nutrition to the body. There is a lot more to the argument of whole grains versus processed, and the affect carbohydrates have in the body in terms of insulin, cholesterol, and inflammation. Furthermore there is increasing evidence that shows whole grains increase levels of LDL cholesterol. I encourage everyone reading this to read a book and educate yourselves. Don't rely on blogs where literally anyone can present their opinion on nutrition and what they think they know as though it was factual. Don't take my word for it, Human kinetics is a reputable publisher for nutritional information, or even look at a book called the carb night solution.

Indiheart said...

True, however if eating starchy foods, it's best to consume them with fibre to slow the glycemic load so the blood sugar spike isn't quickly turned to fat which is the body's protocol protecting you from diabetes unless the pancreases is abused with constant excessive work load. My suggestion is If you choose to eat high GI foods, eat them with fat and fibre for slow burning energy.

Anne Elliott said...

Common sense will tell us that apart from removing the inedible hull, any destruction of the complete form of a food is a compromising of its health giving character.

Since all grains, nuts, and seeds have built-in enzymes which prevent premature sprouting, they prevent the absorption of needed vitamins and minerals and must be de-activated prior to cooking and eating by soaking for twelve to twenty-four hours. This negates the effects offending phytates and Increases the vitamins in the grains. All primitive peoples ate grains as mush before they learned to bake them as flatbreads.

In the sixth century BC the Egyptians learned to use beer yeast to raise dough for bread and thus raised bread was born, but they still soaked the flour for hours before adding the yeast to it. (See Exodus 12:39..

Not until tge eighteenth century in France was a strong yeast found which would raise bread in a few hours-sach. - before then all bread had to be made with a wild-yeast starter which required at least twelve or mire hours to achieve a raised loaf.

This development of fast rising yeast was purely for economoc reasons so that bakers could turn out many more loaves in a day, to a far greater profit. No one realized then that this yeast was far too strong for the digestive systems natural yeasts and bacterial components to exist comfortably with, so it overcame them and produced an environment in which candida yeast finds a welcome home. Nor did they know about the loss of B vitamins, calcium, magnesium which quickly raised breads promoted.

With the introduction of the roller mills in the late nineteenth century and the subsequent removal of the bran which slows the digestion and assimilation of the endosperm (starch) and the removal of the germ (the oily part which contains the B vitamins and life giving elements) the flour was rendered pale, tasteless and lifeless. But it was light, fluffy, and quick to make, and the public fell for it!

In the early nineteen hundreds flour manufacturers learned how to bleach flour, making it "pure white, clean and bright," and also poisonous to insects, thus with longer shelf life. My mother told me that when she. was a child in Virginia flour companies painted the sides of barns on the roads with signs saying "WHITE FLOUR US GOOD FOR YOU." To convince the farm wives to use it, rather than grind their own.

Today I make my own wild yeast starter (easy to do), use Turkey red wheat (the old heirloom wheat which most everyone used until the 1960's when this highly hybridized new wheat was developed to use large amounts of artificial fertilizers and with two new unknown chromosomes--recognized as the most harmful food on the market today!).

I soak my wheat 15 to 24hours, rinse it, throw it in the food processor to chop it up, then add my yeast starter, honey, salt, and olive oil and proceed to make beautiful, life giving bread. Yes it takes eight hours for first rising, three hours for the second, but i start it at night, let it rise while I sleep, then punch it down on rising, raise it for three hours, bake it, and have fresh bread by lunch time. What an easy way to make healthful bread--the staff of life.

Impressed said...

Anne Elliot,

Just wanted you to know that I loved your comment here so much that I'm saving it. :)

Cheryl said...

Thanks for letting me know the difference. Unfortunately, today, when presented with a choice, I chose the pearled since I didn't know any better. Now I do. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I am still confused. I have a bag of shelled wheat. Is this the same as hulled or shelled barley? The description given for my shelled wheat is as follows:
"This shelled / pearled white Wheat is a wheat berry without the bran (the outer skin), and also called 'skinless' whole grain wheat. Shelled wheat can also be described as an uncooked hulled wheat (dzedzadz), or peeled or polished wheat."

Anne Elliott said...

Regretably, your wheat is just unbleached white yet unground. It has only the starch elements left. Throw it out and buy some organic whole Turkey red wheat from Heartland Mills In Kansas and soak the berries two or three days till they sprout. Then chop them up in your food processor and use them to make your bakd goods. Perfect nutrition. ,

Anonymous said...

Impressed, you'd be foolish to take anything from Anne's comment beyond the fact that she's badly biased and seriously misinformed.

The prior comment had it right: "Don't rely on blogs where literally anyone can present their opinion on nutrition and what they think they know as though it was factual."

Using Exodus as historical evidence of "Egyptian" baking practices? Eighteenth century France was when a strong yeast was found?

Anne Elliott said...

What a pity that Anonomous had not the courage to post her name With her comment.

Abd said...

Agree with you.. we just need to ignore her/hem

Anonymous said...

Soluble bran is consumed in the intestines by our beneficial bacteria which are about 70% of our immune system. It is necessary for our healt. Insoluble bran is needed to keep food moving quickly through our colon and then OUT. one recognized problem with our industrialized diets is the problem of poor bowel function, leading to leaky gut syndrome amongst others. Keep 'em moving!