Hulled Vs. Hull-less Barley

Readers of this blog know I make a loaf of sprouted wheat bread every week. It’s made from whole wheat, whole barley, and a little salt. That’s all. (Here’s the recipe, with photos.)

I recently lost my source for the barley I use, which is a hulled barley, not pearled barley. I need the grain to contain the germ so it will sprout. I looked around online and found these two from The Grain Place, one is hulled and the other is something I’m unfamiliar with, eBarley which is a “hull-less” grain.

Here’s how The Grain Place describes them:

Hulled Barley: Hulled barley has only the outer husk removed, and is thus more nutritious than pearled barley, which has husk, bran and germ removed.

Ancient Grain eBarley: eBarley or Ethiopian Barley is a hull-less ancient grain barley. The difference between hulled and hull-less barley starts in the field. Hulled barley or “covered barley” has a hull that adheres to the grain. Hull-less barley or “naked barley” has an outer hull that’s loosely attached to the kernel so it generally falls off during harvesting. This form of barley likely has slightly higher fiber content because it requires less processing.

And here’s what happened when I tested their sproutability.  The dry grains are at the bottom, and the sprouts are above them in bowls:

This was after one day soaking and about 36 hours of sprouting. You can see that the eBarley took off, similar to how my wheat looks after this time. The hulled barley was a dud. It looks like it tried to sprout but stopped. It could have been old. Maybe it would have sprouted if given more time, but I need the wheat and barley to sprout together since I mix them at the beginning.

I made my first loaf with the eBarley today. It needs a few days to condition. I’m excited to see how it tastes. If it works out, The Grain Place will have me as a customer for a while.

13 thoughts on “Hulled Vs. Hull-less Barley

  1. Christian Evans

    Good morning Fanatic Cook!
    We ran across your blog entry recently and I wanted to first say, great site! Second, say thank you for mentioning us. And third, let you know why the Hulled Barley probably won’t work for sprouting – at least not reliably.
    Because the hull of the barley has to be ground off to remove it (for Hulled Barley), the germ usually gets damaged preventing sprout.
    The ebarley has a hull that falls off easily, isn’t damaged in the “processing”/cleaning of it and will therefore get you the sprouting results you desire.
    By the way, how did it taste??!!

    Hope that helps and keep up the great work!

    1. Bix Post author

      Hi Christian Evans. Thank you for stopping by!

      Your eBarley is unlike any barley I’ve used in this bread. I’ve been making it for about 4 years now, every week, and the only barley that sprouts reliably and with gusto is eBarley. You should use it as a selling feature, especially since so many people sprout their grains these days. (The breads I made with it were a bit sweeter and maltier, some of my best.)

      Thank you for a great product!

  2. Sarah Oliveira

    A very interesting article. I am researching uses for hulless barley. We grow it here in Alberta and I am researching potential use for it. Do you know if the market is very big for sprouted grains?

    1. Bix Post author

      I don’t really have my thumb on the pulse but I’d say sprouted grains are more popular today than 5 or 10 years ago.

  3. Sudney

    Hi Fanatic cook, I recently learned that barley had a very low glycemic index and therefore is good for diabetics who can’t eat wheat and other flours. In fact hull-less barley is even lower than pearled. So, I’m going to try it as a breakfast cereal, as well as in soups, and substituting for rice.
    Check out David Mendosa’s site and you can learn more about it.
    Me, I’d love nothing more than a bread made from it that doesn’t send my glucose level spiking up.

    1. Bix Post author

      Hi Sudney,

      I used to make a breakfast cereal with hull-less barley. I should get back into it, chewey and nutty. Hope you like it. It take a while to cook!

  4. Glo Banta

    Check out Western Trails,Treasure State Hulless Barley, phone #406-377-4284 they grow this barley and I believe you can order direct. I live in Montana which is a barley growing state so I can get this at my local grocery store. Their barley is totally awesome ,I cook it with steel cut oats for a great breakfast cereal. Make a big batch, add apples, raisins and whatever else you like in your cereal. I make a big batch once a week and then just heat up in a microwave a bowl for breakfast. This barley has a wonderful nutty taste and is also great in soup, as a grain side dish or in bread. You also may want to check out Rosemary Newman a barley specialist who has a new cookbook out available on Amazon. She is a super lovely woman who has spent years promoting the use of barley and years collecting barley recipes.

  5. swisstoons

    I discovered he Grain Place about two months ago and ordered three 2 lb bags of Hulled Barley which I put through a coffee/spice grinder to create an excellent whole grain barley flour. Today, I went back to reorder, hoping to include in my new order a bag of the Ethiopian barley you’ve written about. But it looks like all quantities (single 2 lb bag…case of 12 2 lb bags and a 25 lb bag) are out of stock. I know that another product was out of stock a month ago and remains out of stock. So, I’m wondering if the situation is permanent. I’ve emailed the company a few moments ago to inquire, but I’m curious as to whether you have been able to order the “e-barley” recently. Since I’m a new Grain Place customer, I’m wondering if they ever restock certain of their products, or just stick with those products most commonly ordered. Thank you for any information you might be able to furnish.

    1. Bix Post author

      Hi Swisstoons,
      I wish I could be of more help but I stopped making the bread a while ago, and so stopped buying their barley. I hope you hear back from them.

        1. Bix Post author

          Hi Theresia,
          No health reason. I think it’s a very healthy bread. It just became a little more work than I had time for, mostly grinding the sprouts. When the grinding attachment on my mixer started acting up, that was the nail in the coffin.

    1. Samia

      The hull is indigestible. It is the part that sticks firmly to the seed and therefore the whole thing has to be refined to make it edible. Naked, or hull-less, barley, is still a whole grain and it will sprout.


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