Types of Barley

Barley for Feed

Barley is primarily used for animal feed. It is fed to beef cattle, dairy cattle, swine and poultry. In most cases, the whole barley kernel is rolled, ground, or flaked, prior to being fed.

Approximately 90% of the barley grown in Washington is used for feed.

Barley for Malt

Barley’s second most important use if for malt. Malt is used in beer, liquor, malted milk and flavorings in a variety of foods. Washington-grown barley; which is used for malt, accounts for about 10% of the state’s total production.

Malt is produced by germinating moistened barley under controlled conditions. The process begins by steeping or soaking the barley in large tanks under water for two days to absorb moisture and begin germination. The wet grain is moved to large climate-controlled compartments where it is allowed to germinate for four days. The barley is transferred to kilns for drying, which takes approximately 40 hours. The finished product is called malt which is typically sold to breweries and other food processors.

Barley malt flour is an ingredient in nearly all baking flours that are used to make breads and other baked goods.

Barley for Food

Less than one percent of Washington-grown barley is used for human consumption. Barley may be purchased in several forms. Pearl barley, where the outer hull and part of the bran layer has been removed, is sold in most supermarkets. Barley flour, flakes, and grits may be found in health food and specialty stores. Barley is also used as a commercial ingredient in prepared foods such as breakfast cereals, soups, pilaf mixes, breads, cookies, crackers and snack bars. By checking the ingredient label of food products, you may find that you have been eating barley all along!