Barley is commonly used to produce malt, a package of starch, enzymes, protein, vitamins, and minerals, which is then used by brewers and distillers to produce various alcoholic beverages. The process of turning barley grain into malt consists of 4 stages.
The first stage is steeping, which is when cleaned raw barley is covered with water and alternates between being submerged and then drained to increase the moisture content. The sufficient moisture level allows for the starches and proteins to breakdown and initiate growth of the sprout.
The second stage, germination, keeps the temperature and oxygen consistent and constant for the grain. This stage is where malters can manipulate the conditions to create various types of malt they want.
The third stage is kilning, which dries out the grains to create different colors and flavor profiles.
The final stage is roasting, which begins with its own steeping and germination process. Then the roasting takes place in roasting drums where the grain is heated for 2.5 to 3 hours, then cooled for 35 to 60 minutes. The final malt colors and flavors are confirmed, analyzed, and then stored to await shipping to be used for consumers.
Barley can be cooked and prepared to create a variety of delicious dishes, which is great because barley is also very nutritious and can be extremely health beneficial when consumed.
Barley is a great source of the B vitamins along with energy, carbohydrates, fiber, and more! Since barley contains so many nutrients, studies have found it can contribute to lowering the risk of many diseases and aid in overall health.
Since barley is rich in several nutrients, it has been found to reduce the risk for heart disease by lowering and maintaining a healthy blood pressure. Fiber from barley is also great for lowering cholesterol levels.
Selenium and fiber, both nutrients found in barley, are great at preventing and reducing inflammation as well as aiding in digestive health, which can reduce the risk of developing stomach cancer. Fiber also aids in preventing constipation and may contribute to weight loss by keeping you fuller for longer. Weight management can also reduce risks for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Livestock Feed Barley
As one of the main cereal crops, barley used as animal feed is ranked fourth behind corn, rice, and wheat. Barley is mostly used for livestock feed, accounting for 85% of total barley production. It is an excellent grain choice to add to livestock feed since it’s not only a good source of energy, but contains more protein than other grains that are commonly used for feed. Six-row barley is a valuable feed ingredient because it has a higher protein content than two-row, which is more commonly used for brewing.
To be used effectively in livestock feed, barley needs to be processed, which is thankfully not an elaborate process. The season and weather conditions can play a role in the overall quality and nutritional composition of the barley grain. The grain quality can also affect the price since it’s traditionally based on the test weight of the barley. Typically, as test weight decreases, the protein content will increase and the energy will decrease. This is important to understand so you can ensure the animal feed will contain the best nutritional value it can.