Barley is a nutritious grain that has been consumed for centuries. It is a good source of fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals, making it an excellent addition to any healthy diet. Barley is commonly used in soups, stews, salads, and other dishes, and it can be cooked in a variety of ways. In this blog post, we will focus on how to cook barley in a rice cooker, a convenient and easy method that will ensure perfectly cooked barley every time.
Why You Should Use a Rice Cooker to Cook Barley
Stovetop cooking of barley involves a lot of preparation & time. Moreover, the risk of over- or under-cooking it is high and there can be occasions when the barley might burn in the process.
Here are a few reasons why you should consider cooking barley in a rice cooker:
- Convenience: Cooking barley in a rice cooker is incredibly convenient. Once you add the barley and water to the rice cooker, you can set it and forget it. The rice cooker will take care of the rest, freeing up your time to focus on other things.
- Consistency: Cooking barley on the stovetop can be tricky. You need to keep an eye on the pot to ensure the barley doesn’t overcook or stick to the bottom of the pot. With a rice cooker, you can trust that the barley will be cooked evenly every time.
- Capacity: Most rice cookers have a larger capacity than a regular pot on the stovetop. This means you can cook a larger batch of barley in one go, making meal prep easier and more efficient.
- Energy efficiency: Rice cookers are designed to be energy-efficient, using less electricity than an oven or stovetop. This means you can cook barley in a rice cooker without worrying about using too much energy or driving up your electricity bill.
- Versatility: Rice cookers can be used to cook more than just rice. Many models have settings for cooking other grains like quinoa, couscous, and barley. This means you can use your rice cooker to make a variety of healthy and delicious dishes.
Choosing the Right Type of Barley
Before you start cooking barley in a rice cooker, it’s important to choose the right type of barley. There are several different types of barley available, each with its own characteristics and cooking requirements. The most common types of barley are hulled barley, pearled barley, and quick-cooking barley.
Hulled barley is the most nutritious type of barley, as it retains its bran layer and germ, which are rich in fiber and nutrients. However, hulled barley takes longer to cook and requires soaking before cooking, which makes it less convenient for everyday use.
Pearled barley is the most common type of barley and is widely available in grocery stores. It has been polished to remove the bran layer and germ, making it quicker to cook than hulled barley. However, pearled barley is less nutritious than hulled barley, as it has lost some of its fiber and nutrients.
Quick-cooking barley is a type of pearled barley that has been cut into smaller pieces, which reduces its cooking time even further. While quick-cooking barley is convenient, it is less nutritious than hulled or pearled barley.
For cooking barley in a rice cooker, we recommend using pearled barley, as it strikes a good balance between nutrition and convenience.
Preparing Barley for Cooking
Before you start cooking barley in a rice cooker, it’s important to prepare it properly. Follow these steps to prepare your barley for cooking:
- Clean and rinse the barley: Place the barley in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse it thoroughly under cold running water. This will remove any dirt or debris.
- Soak the barley (optional): Soaking the barley overnight can help reduce its cooking time and improve its texture. To soak the barley, place it in a bowl and cover it with water. Let it soak for at least 8 hours or overnight.
- Measure the barley and water: For every cup of barley, you will need 2 to 2 1/2 cups of water. The exact amount of water may vary depending on the type of barley and your personal preference.
Setting Up Your Rice Cooker
Now that your barley is prepared, it’s time to set up your rice cooker. Follow these instructions to set up your rice cooker for cooking barley:
- Add the barley and water to the rice cooker: Add the rinsed barley and the measured water to the rice cooker. Stir to combine.
- Set the rice cooker to the “white rice” setting: Most rice cookers have a “white rice” setting that will cook the barley perfectly. If your rice cooker doesn’t have this setting, use the “brown rice” setting instead.
- Start the rice cooker: Close the lid of the rice cooker and press the “cook” button. The rice cooker will automatically turn off once the barley is cooked.
Cooking Barley in a Rice Cooker
Cooking barley in a rice cooker is easy and convenient. Follow these step-by-step instructions to cook barley in a rice cooker:
- Clean and rinse the barley and soak it overnight if desired.
- Measure the barley and water, using 2 to 2 1/2 cups of water
- Add the barley and water to the rice cooker and stir to combine.
- Set the rice cooker to the “white rice” or “brown rice” setting, depending on the model.
- Press the “cook” button and let the rice cooker do its job.
- Once the rice cooker has finished cooking, let the barley sit for a few minutes before opening the lid. This will allow any remaining moisture to be absorbed.
- Fluff the barley with a fork and serve.
Tips and Tricks for Cooking Barley in a Rice Cooker
Here are some tips and tricks to help you get the best results when cooking barley in a rice cooker:
- Use the right amount of water: Using too much water can result in mushy barley, while using too little water can result in undercooked barley. Start with the recommended amount of water and adjust as needed.
- Add flavorings and seasonings: Barley has a mild flavor that can be enhanced with herbs, spices, and other seasonings. You can also add broth or stock instead of water for extra flavor.
- Store leftover barley properly: If you have leftover barley, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. You can reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop.
- Experiment with different types of barley: While pearled barley is the most commonly used type of barley, you can also try cooking hulled barley or quick-cooking barley in your rice cooker.
Cooking barley in a rice cooker is a simple and convenient way to enjoy this nutritious grain. Whether you’re using it in a salad, soup, or as a side dish, cooking barley in a rice cooker will ensure perfectly cooked barley every time. By following these tips and tricks, you can experiment with different types of barley and flavorings to create delicious and healthy meals. So why not give it a try? Your taste buds (and your body) will thank you.