We love nutty, hearty barley, but shopping for the tasty little grain can be confusing. Use this handy cheat sheet to make sure you're buying the right stuff for your recipe.
Since only the inedible outer husk has been removed, this whole-grain barley is the least processed and the most nutrient-rich--and has the heartiest texture. It also takes the longest to cook--about an hour--making it perfect for long-simmering soups and stews.
The most common barley on supermarket shelves, pearl barley is stripped of its outer husk and some of the next layer, the bran. It has a slightly softer texture and milder flavor than hulled barley and cooks in about 40 minutes. Great for grain saladsand risottos.
Also known as quick pearl barley, it's parboiled and dried. It's interchangeable with pearl barley in terms of taste an texture--but cooks in about 10 minutes!