What's the deal with my pearled barley?

A while ago I felt inspired by some threads on the SDMB to start integrating more whole grains into my diet. To that end I went out and bought a bag of ACME brand pearled barley because I remembered having barley in stews and soups and liking it.

So when I decided to try making some, I opted for starting out with just making a plain old pot of the stuff straight up, to get my bearings. I figured I’d add beans or something to it once it was cooked. I took a look at the cooking directions, which go like this:

:eek: A 6-to-1 liquid-to-grain ratio? I was shocked. I was used to making white rice, which I know takes a 2-to-1 ratio, and cous cous which is 1-to-1, but 6-to-1? Barley must be some seriously amazing stuff, I thought. I was playing with the big dogs now, these are WHOLE GRAINS .

So I followed the directions carefully (adding the optional salt, because I so desired), and sat back for 50 to 60 minutes to wait for the teeny little barley grains to suck up 6 times their volume in water. When the time came, I eagerly popped off the lid to find… slightly larger barley bits under about an inch of water! :eek: :frowning:

I was baffled. I drained out a lot of the excess water and kept the stuff simmering, trying to get rid of all that water. The barley seemed tender enough, so finally I just ate the stuff with some beans, but frankly the subtle nutty flavor was drowned out by the * taste of failure. * Why didn’t my barley soak up all the water and become big and fluffy? I was only following orders!

I googled pearled barley recipes to see if the 6-to-1 ratio was indeed too good to be true, and I found a whole range of responses. Recipes I found called for anything from 3-to-1 to 5-to-1, but I couldn’t find one that backed up the instructions on my ACME pearled barley bag. So I put it to your infinite Doper wisdom: what is the proper way to cook pearled barley? Is my ACME pearled barley on the level? Is there supposed to be a lot of extra water in the pot when it’s done? Did I just screw something up?


Maybe you were supposed to also consume the unabsorbed water; you know, like a porridge.