We eat barley regularly and keep it in our pantry but we don’t buy it in bulk. We keep a small amount on hand and normally use it up by it’s best-by date. I wanted to see if we could add it to our our long-term storage as another one of our “foundation foods”. If you don’t know what a foundation food is, it’s a staple that we can pack away in larger quantities for use in the event of a long-lasting food emergency. These foods have the following qualities:
- They can be properly packaged and stored for years (preferably at least 10 years)
- They are available locally at a low price
- They can be used as is or as a “foundation” ingredient in meals
- They can be further processed down into flour.
To date we have determined that rice, dried beans and rolled oatmeal fit our needs.
Our barley test consisted of placing a couple pounds of grocery store pearled barley into one of our short-term buckets and leaving it there. We left the barley in it’s original packaging. After a little over 5 years went by we decided to see how well the barley stored. We used most of it in a large pot of Beef and Barley Soup and I’ve put the recipe at the end of this article.
The barley did very well. When the package was opened there was no odor of staleness or rancidity. I think it’s possible that the pearled barley lends itself better to long term storage since the outer hull has been removed. I’m not sure about that though, I’ll have to do some more research on that.
The barley was prepared according to the instructions on the bag by simmering for 45 minutes or until “chewy”. It passed the sniff test and the taste test just fine so it was added to the soup broth and we finished our pot of soup.
While the soup was simmering, I set up our Weston hand-crank grain mill and ran the remaining barley thru the mill. This proved to be a challenge. Not only was my wife giving me the stink-eye for messing up her clean kitchen but the barley was harder than I anticipated. I backed the grinder plate pressure off for the first pass through the grinder to “crack” the barley and two more passes through the grinder produced cornmeal-sized granules. Further sifting provided a very useable fine flour.
I’m happy to report that we now have another dried grain that fits into our food storage program! Pearled Barley right now costs right around $1.00 a pound at our local grocery stores which fits well within our budget. It should have no problem achieving a 10 year shelf life when packed in mylar.
We have a simple recipe for Beef Barley soup. It’s nothing special and the beef could be replaced with venison. It’s great on a cold day with homemade bread. Leftovers can be bagged and frozen. The quantities below will yield about 7 good sized servings.
- 1 1/2 cups of pearled barley
- 3 cups water
- half-teaspoon of salt
Prepare the above in a sauce pan by bringing the water and salt to a boil, add the barley and simmer for 45 minutes or until “chewy”
Cut one pound of fresh beef or venison into spoon-size pieces and marinate in Worcestershire sauce while the following ingredients are placed into a large soup pot:
- 6 cups of beef broth OR 6 cups of water and 6 beef bullion cubes
- 1 or 2 cups chopped fresh or rehydrated celery and/or carrots
- 1 tablespoon onion powder or dehydrated onions
Add the meat and barley to the pot and simmer for 2 hours. Salt and pepper to taste. Be sure to check the water level and add more if necessary. My wife likes her soups thicker than I do so this recipe usually provides a thicker soup. This is a good recipe for us since it uses items that we keep in storage, we just add fresh meat. We’ve never tried dried meat but it could probably be used in place of fresh meat.