//Barley Water (Stove-top & Instant Pot)

Barley Water (Stove-top & Instant Pot)

collage of barley grains scooped with a wooden spoon and two collins glasses filled with barley water with a text layover

Barley Water is a healthy, cooling drink loaded with nutrients. Excellent for the body during summer, this beverage hydrates, nourishes, detoxes and cools. I’ll show you how easy it is to make this ancient healing elixir at home! Learn to make barley water recipe three ways.

two collins glasses filled with lemon barley watertwo collins glasses filled with lemon barley water

What is Barley Water?

Barley water is a drink that has been consumed around the world for millennia. While it may sound strange, the fact that it has several thousand year staying power should indicate how delicious it truly is!

Barley is simply simmered in water, then the cooking water is flavored with citrus (preferably lemon) and a touch of sugar or salt.

The nutrients from the whole grain are released into the water, providing vitamins and nutrients that are essential to the body’s functions.

You can think of lemon barley water as the original sport’s drink, intended to help the body naturally recover from activity, illness or exposure.

Once you taste how refreshing and yummy this drink is, I believe you’ll have a difficult time reaching for any of the dye and HFCS laden “functional beverages” that the large soda corporations push for profit.

Why Homemade

Barley water has been one of my favorite drinks since childhood. It is the perfect way to refresh and revive the body during Indian hot summers.

I used to buy bottles and bottles of this yummy beverage, but later in life I started to make my own lemon barley water.

While you can certainly buy pre-packaged barley water, it is so easy (and much cheaper & healthier!) to make your own. I have been wanting to share this healthy lemon flavored drink recipe for a long time.

The concept of this healing beverage is simple: just rinse, soak and then cook barley in water until the barley releases all of the nutrients and antioxidants into the water.

You can use a pot, Instant pot or stove-top pressure cooker. In this barley water recipe post, I share all three ways of making this easy tonic at home.

small glass bowl. of pearled barley on a piece of burlap with a wooden spoonsmall glass bowl. of pearled barley on a piece of burlap with a wooden spoon

Types of Barley

When it comes to making barley water recipe, you will need to figure out which type of barley to purchase.

There are three primary types of this whole grain:

  1. Unhulled Barley
  2. Hulled Barley
  3. Pearl Barley

For this barley water recipe, you’ll want to stick with hulled barley or pearl barley. Hulled barley has been lightly processed to remove the fibrous hulls of the grain, while pearl barley goes one step further and polishes the grain. The process of polishing the barley removes some or most of the bran.

If you are torn between these two types of barley, they each have pros and cons. Pearl barley is less nutrient dense because of the removal of the bran, but it cooks much faster. Hulled barley is the more healthful choice, but will take longer to cook.

Health Benefits

Aside from being tasty and refreshing, this nutrient dense drink comes with some serious health benefits.

Barley is a whole grain that is packed with antioxidants and vitamins, and the tea-like tonic that results from cooking it has many uses.

In Ayurvedic practice, barley is considered a cooling element. Barley water can therefore be used to make your gut more alkaline and reduce acidity in the body.

It is my preferred method for treating acid reflux because it not only works, but is actually a joy to drink!

It is also often used as a homeopathic cure for various bacterial infections like UTIs or gastroenteritis. The high level of beta glucans in barley water boosts immunity and helps with weight loss.

Barley water is also relatively high in water soluble fiber. As such, it can be an effective treatment to reduce the absorption of LDL “bad” cholesterol as well as helping your insulin resistance.

Whether you choose to drink barley water to help with regulating blood sugar, decreasing your cholesterol or simply refreshing yourself after a long day in the sun, this delicious drink is sure to do your body good.

Note: Barley is a known source of gluten, so any readers who suffer from gluten sensitivities or celiac disease should not imbibe this drink.

In the following recipe, I have used pearl barley because it seems to be the most widely available grain where I live. That said, you can certainly use hulled barley for my recipe.

Just note that you will need to increase the cooking times for all methods and should absolutely consider soaking the grains if you do.

Step-by-Step Guide

How to Make Barley Water

Prep Barley

1. Rinse barley grains in a strainer for a couple of times. Next, there is the option to soak the grains for 3 to 4 hours or overnight.

As you see in the below photo, from the color, the barley grains I used were pearled. They retained some of the bran, which you can tell from the light tan color. When the bran is entirely removed, the grains appear white.

TIP: If you are using hulled barley, soaking overnight will reduce the cook time needed. Soaking also reduces the phytic acid in the barley (pearl or hulled), which reduces the incidence of flatulence in many individuals. Let’s just say that I always prefer to soak my barley.

barley in a mesh strainerbarley in a mesh strainer

2. With a strainer drain the water from the soaked barley grains and rinse them with fresh clean water for a couple of times. Next, proceed based on your cooking method.

  • Instant Pot: Add the prepared grains to the steel pot of the IP. Note that I have used 6 quart IP.
  • Stove Top: Add grains to a large pot with a tight fitting lid.
  • Pressure Cooker: Use at least a 3 to 4-litre pressure cooker as the water bubbles and froths while cooking.
drained barley added to steel insert of instant potdrained barley added to steel insert of instant pot

3. Add water.

  • Instant Pot: Pour in 5 cups of drinking water. Barley grains increase in volume a lot, so you may need to add more water while cooking. If you prefer a more concentrated barley water, only add 4 cups.
  • Pan on stove top: Add 4 cups water.
  • Stove-top Pressure Cooker: Add 4 to 4.5 cups water.
water added to barleywater added to barley

Cook Barley

4. Cook the soaked pearl barley.

Instant Pot: Seal the lid and position the pressure release valve to sealing position. Press the pressure cook/manual button and pressure cook on high for 20 minutes. When you hear the beep sound after the cooking is complete, wait for 10 minutes and then do a quick pressure release by turning the valve to venting position. After all the pressure and steam is released then remove the lid.

Pan on stove top: Place the cover/lid on the pot and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. If the water froths and bubbles way too much, remove the lid or partly cover with a lid while simmering.

Stove-top Pressure Cooker: Cook for 12 to 15 minutes (or for 8 to 9 whistles) on medium-heat. When the pressure falls naturally in the cooker, then only open the lid.

Note: For soaked hulled barley, pressure cook for 30 to 35 minutes in the Instant Pot, 40 to 45 minutes in a pot on the stove-top and 25 minutes in a stove-top pressure cooker.

instant pot set to 20 minutes on high pressureinstant pot set to 20 minutes on high pressure

5. You will see a cloudy, opaque water and the barley grains all plumped and softened.

barley in cooking water prior to straining for making lemon barley waterbarley in cooking water prior to straining for making lemon barley water

Strain Cooked Barley

6. Let the water cool enough to handle. Strain the grains from the water using a mesh strainer. Lightly press the grains with the back of a spoon to extract the most water.

TIP: Remove the steel pot from the IP if you want to cool the water faster.

NOTE: While some folks like to keep the cooked barley to eat as a porridge with water or milk, I personally don’t love the consistency. After the cooking and pressing, the grains become too mushy for my taste. Since I do not like to throw away food, I feed it to the birds. It is also entirely compostable.

spoon pressing barley through a mesh strainerspoon pressing barley through a mesh strainer

Flavor Barley Water

7. Add lemon juice to the barley water according to your taste preferences. This barley water recipe with the Instant Pot method makes about 3 servings (roughly 4.25 cups in the Imperial system) of water. I recommend adding about 1 teaspoon lemon juice for 1 glass of barley water.

lemon squeezer above pot of barley waterlemon squeezer above pot of barley water

8. Finally, add your sweetener of choice or omit it completely. I like to add raw sugar, but you can add rock sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, date syrup or jaggery instead.

TIP : If you are in need of an electrolyte boost, you can also add a bit of black salt or edible and food grade rock salt. 

Mix well until the sweetener or salt is dissolved.

TIP: If you want to add more flavor to your barley water, feel free to experiment here! You can add a bit of ground cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, or any of your favorite herbs or spice. You can also add some ginger juice, orange juice, or mint juice. Yum!

teaspoon of turbinado sugar above pot of barley waterteaspoon of turbinado sugar above pot of barley water

Serving Suggestions

9. Pour in glasses and serve. You can serve the barley water warm or cool depending on your preference.

Feel free to garnish with some mint leaves to make it feel truly celebratory. Refrigerate any barley water leftovers for a day only.

two tall clear glasses filled with lemonade barley water on a wooden tabletwo tall clear glasses filled with lemonade barley water on a wooden table

Tips

FAQs

Can I drink barley water every day?

While some bottled versions of barley water boast upwards of 700 calories per serving, my recipe has only about 100 calories per serving. As long as you drink it in moderation, it is a drink that can fit into a regular, healthy diet. Just note that people who have gluten sensitivities or celiac disease should not drink this tonic.
Please consult with your doctor or a nutritional professional for any diet advice.

What is the best time to drink barley water?

Growing up, barley water was something we drank all summer long. To this day, it is my preferred refreshing beverage! That said, some people prefer to drink this as more of a hot tea, in which case it could be enjoyed all year long.

What is the best way to flavor barley water?

My personal favorite way to drink this elixir is lightly sweetened with a touch of lemon. If you prefer to customize your drink, you can easily steep your favorite herbs and spices like ginger, cardamom or star anise in the water, or add different fruit juices to change the flavor profile.

What ailments can barley water cure?

Barley water has been used in holistic healing for literally thousands of years. It can aid in:
-digestion (great for acid reflux especially!
-electrolyte replenishment after exertion or stomach illness
-reducing cholesterol
-stabilizing blood sugar
-fighting infections
Consult with your health care provider to discuss how to best incorporate barley water into your regimen.

Information Sources:

https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/
https://www.healthline.com/
https://www.thespruceeats.com/
https://wholegrainscouncil.org/

More Healthy Drinks!

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Barley water is a healthy, cooling drink loaded with nutrients. Excellent for the body during summer, this beverage hydrates, nourishes, detoxes and cools. I’ll show you how easy it is to make this ancient healing elixir at home!



Servings 3

Prevent your screen from going dark while making the recipe

  • Rinse barley grains in a strainer for a couple of times. Next, there is the option to soak the grains for 3 to 4 hours or overnight. (See notes)

  • Next, proceed based on your cooking method: 1. Instant Pot: Add the prepared grains to the steel pot of the IP. Pour in 5 cups of drinking water. Barley grains increase in volume a lot, so you may need to add more water while cooking. If you prefer a more concentrated barley water, only add 4 cups. 2. Pot on a stove top: Add barley grains to a large pot with a tight fitting lid. Add 4 cups water. 3. Stove-top Pressure Cooker: Use at least a 3 to 4-litre pressure cooker as the water bubbles and froths while cooking. Add 4 to 4.5 cups water.
  • 1. Instant Pot: Seal the lid and position the pressure release valve to sealing position. Press the pressure cook/manual button and pressure cook on high for 20 minutes. When you hear the beep sound after the cooking is complete, wait for 10 minutes and then do a quick pressure release. After all the pressure and steam is released then only remove the lid. 2. Pot on a Stove top: Place the cover on the pot and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. 3. Stove-top Pressure Cooker: Cook for 12 to 15 minutes (or for 8 to 9 whistles) on medium-heat. After the cooking is complete, when the pressure falls naturally in the cooker, then only open the lid.
  • You will see a cloudy, opaque water and the barley grains all plumped and softened.

  • Let the water cool enough to handle. Strain the grains from the water using a mesh strainer. Lightly press the grains with the back of a spoon to extract the most water.

  • Add lemon juice to the barley water according to your taste preferences. Finally, add your sweetener of choice and stir to combine. (For more flavoring ideas, read the notes below)

  • Pour in glasses and serve. You can serve the barley water warm or cool depending on your preference. Feel free to garnish with some mint leaves to make it feel truly celebratory. Refrigerate any barley water leftovers for a day only.

  • Soaking: If you are using hulled barley, soaking overnight will reduce the cook time needed. Soaking also reduces the phytic acid in the barley (pearl or hulled), which reduces the incidence of flatulence in many individuals. 
  • Cooking hulled barley: If using soaked hulled barley, pressure cook for 30 to 35 minutes in the Instant Pot, 40 to 45 minutes in a pot on the stove-top and 25 minutes in a stove-top pressure cooker.
  • Cooling quicker: Remove the steel pot from the IP after cooking if you want to cool the water faster.
  • Servings: This barley water recipe with the Instant Pot method makes about 3 servings (roughly 4.25 cups in the Imperial system) of water. I recommend adding about 1 teaspoon lemon juice for 1 glass of barley water.  I also like to add raw sugar, but you can add rock sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, date syrup or jaggery instead.
  • More flavorings and seasonings: If you are in need of an electrolyte boost, you can also add a bit of black salt or edible and food grade rock salt. Just be sure to mix it until the salt dissolves.  If you want to add more flavor to your barley water, feel free to experiment here! You can add a bit of ground cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, or any of your favorite herbs or spice. You can also add some ginger juice, orange juice, or mint juice. NOTE: While some folks like to keep the cooked barley to eat as a porridge with water or milk, I personally don’t love the consistency. After the cooking and pressing, the grains become too mushy for my taste. Since I do not like to throw away food, I feed it to the birds. It is also entirely compostable.

Nutrition Facts

Barley Water Recipe (Stove-top and Instant Pot)

Amount Per Serving

Calories 108 Calories from Fat 9

% Daily Value*

Fat 1g2%

Saturated Fat 1g6%

Sodium 22mg1%

Potassium 55mg2%

Carbohydrates 25g8%

Fiber 3g13%

Sugar 12g13%

Protein 2g4%

Vitamin A 4IU0%

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 1mg67%

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 1mg59%

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 1mg5%

Vitamin B6 1mg50%

Vitamin C 2mg2%

Vitamin E 1mg7%

Vitamin K 1µg1%

Calcium 18mg2%

Vitamin B9 (Folate) 5µg1%

Iron 1mg6%

Magnesium 18mg5%

Phosphorus 37mg4%

Zinc 1mg7%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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