Barley Water

Total Time:
2 hr 45 min
10 min
2 hr
35 min

approximately 2 quarts

  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 cup hulled barley
  • 2 lemons
  • 1/4 cup honey

Place the water and barley into a medium saucepan; cover, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Once the barley comes to a boil, decrease the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes. While the liquid is cooking, peel the lemons, being careful not to cut into the white pith. Juice the lemons and place the juice along with the peel into a 3-quart pitcher and set aside.

After 30 minutes, strain the barley water through a fine mesh strainer into the pitcher. Discard the barley. Add the honey and stir to combine. Refrigerate until chilled.

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    I recently reviewed this recipe and have found another couple of perks. If I drink a couple of glasses a day, I no longer need the occasional antacid (this may not be the case for others, but was an unexpected side benefit for me. Another use isn't a culinary application, but it's another great use for this barley water recipe: I put aside about half a cup in a small jar or small spray bottle to use on my face as a sort of toner (it can be sprayed on or applied with a cotton pad. It's especially refreshing on a hot day, and isn't the least bit sticky. The small amount of honey helps binds moisture to the skin, the lemon acts as a clarifier and helps even skin tone, and the barley liquid has skin benefits in itself, both taken internally and applied topically. Can't live without it now, and have to make a 2-3 batches a week. Thanks, Alton!
    I didn't actually try this recipe. It's an old fashioned drink from England. I have a recipe from a Mrs Beeton's cookbook (English equivalent of Fanny Farmer and she makes it in a one pint recipe. She boils the pearl barley for only 2 minutes, strains it and then adds 1 pint of boiling water to the partially cooked barley, some sugar and lemon peel. This is covered and left to cool. It is then strained. This would eliminate the mush that one reviewer encountered. When I make it I add lemon juice after it's cold and make it in larger batches. In the UK you can buy it commercially but home made is better: more nutritious and you can adjust the sweetness to taste.
    Quite good. I thought it sounded weird at first, but I braved it. Very much worth it, more refreshing than iced tea, less harsh tasting and smoother. Made a small barley salad with the barley instead of discarding, seemed like a big waste.
    I tried the barley water and honey alone before adding the lemon and it was delicious too. However later I added the lemon and liked it. I would not have minded adding milk instead of lemon for a warm drink also. Thank you for this recipe.
    Extremely refreshing and delicious. I may never drink iced tea again.  
    Actually, using pearled barley in this recipe is fine. If you've turned this into a mush your heat was too high on the boil.
    Make sure you use hulled (husks removed only, not polished barley in this one. If you use pearled barley, it's cloudy and mushy. Love, love, love this recipe! We like to drink this warm when we have a cold coming on...and it can zap a sore throat.
    Became a thick, glutinous slurry. I diluted it 75% with sprite & added extra lemon juice & honey to give it some flavor. I also made a version with vodka, I just reduced the sprite. Others enjoyed it but I will not make it again, homemade lemonade will do amply!
    I have meant to post review about this for over a year. This is a delightful & refreshing drink that I remember my grandmother talking about. Thanks Alton for the recipe! I use the leftover barley to make Barley & Beef Stew.

    I had my doubt about the flavor of grain-water, but I was pleasantly surprised. This will definitely become a "regular" at my home.

    To answer the question below regarding Vitamins: When food is boiled in water, many of the vitamins and minerals leech out of the food and into the cooking water. So really, by boiling you are extracting the nutrients. I'm not entirely sure about the heat sensitivity of any vitamins though.
    had my doubts, but it was great
    This is a very nice refreshing drink. I can see all sorts of ways to experiment with this - maybe pomegranate juice rather than lemons for example.
    I was intrigued by the recipe and made it. Fabulous! In an attempt to ration it, I diluted it down by half with water and would sip on it all day. It was crisp and refreshing and was a nice alternative to plain water when I needed a change. Much better than soda and more flavorful than just adding a twist of lemon to your water. A must for the summer!
    It's a great simple recipe. I would keep the barley for cereal or a salad instead of discarding though.
    My wife and I loved this drink! It will be a staple in my home from know on!
    This is soooooo easy and super tasty as well. I made it for a party and it went over extreemly well. Lets hear it for medieval gatorade (in good for you, this has a better taste)!
    Sounds good BUT....What vitamins are present in the water after boiling the barley? Does the boiling lessen the vitamin content? I always thought with vegetables boiling caused vitamin loss.
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