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Fermented lemon and barley drink

I don't know if lemon and barley is so common here in Australia, but growing up in NZ, I remember drinking lemon and barley flavoured powdered drinks (I don't know if powdered drinks are even that popular in Aus, seems to be all about cordial here).  Anyway, it goes without saying that I don't drink anything powdered (or cordial) anymore, but when I saw a recipe for barley water in Nourishing Traditions, it did catch my interest.

At the time I had no barley, so at the first opportunity I bought some.  Our local organic buying group does quarterly bulk purchases of grains, beans, dried fruits etc, so I ordered some barley.  I accidentally got a carton of 6 1 kg bags instead of 1 bag, so now I have a lot of barley to use.

The recipe for fermented lemon and barley is very simple and much like the lacto-fermented ginger ale and beet kvass fermented drinks that I had already tried.  The only complicated part is preparing the barley.  In this case the recipe said to wash 4 tablespoons of barley and bring to the boil, discard the water and then add 2 L of water to be simmered in a double-boiler for 2 hours.  The barley is then strained and the water is used to make the drink (I used the boiled barley in rissoles that I was making anyway, so its a good idea to have a use for about half a cup of cooked barley when you're finished!).

To the barley water is added some whey, lemon juice and sugar to taste.  The whole thing then ferments at room temperature for a few days.  I then strained it again, because there was a fair bit of "sludge" on the bottom of the jug, but most of it went through the strainer and settled at the bottom of the next jug anyway, so its probably not worth straining it again (doesn't worry me as long as it stays on the bottom!).

The finished drink is delicious chilled.  I'm not sure how much the barley contributes, it really just tastes like lemon and sugar to me,and surprisingly like the powdered drink too.  Pete thought it should be fizzy, but I'm used to drinking this flavour still, so I prefer it without bubbles.

This is now another favourite fermented drink, which is lucky as I have plenty of barley to use up!  Any other suggestions for fermented drinks?  Any other suggestions for using up 6 kg of barley?  I don't really know what to do with it all.....

This post is linked to Party Wave Wednesday – 1/23/13.


  1. Mmmm I have plenty of memories of lemon barley water too I think it is a kiwi thing although you can get it here in the sykes cordial range. With all of you extra barley you could make orzotto, the barley form of risotto. from what I know it is much simpler than risotto because once you have the grains coated in the oil you just put in all the liquid at once rather than having to stand and stir. Also maybe a barley salad.

    Good luck

  2. I tried out a recipe on the back of my barley bag, you cook the barley in water it then transfer it to a oven dish, stir through some chopped up apple, a little butter, sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon then put in the oven (covered) for about an hour. It was divine, but maybe more suitable for Winter time.

    Water kefir is my drink, I ferment just about anything in a light fizzy drink, whatever you have will do as long as it has sugar to feed on. Bananas, dates, raspberries, ginger,... Started making lemon ice tea (kombucha) the same way. Tea, sugar, slice of lemon and the water kefir crystals, in this heat it only takes a day to have a whole jug ready.

  3. Both my nan and my grandma made their own still lemon barley water whenever they felt a bit under the weather or it was going to be a really hot day. We didn't get the powdered variety of lemon barley water but I think your feremented variety would be a whole lot better for you! ;). Barley is an amazing grain. I use lots in soup and come winter your stash will drop alarmingly. Try making risotto out of it. It takes a little bit longer to make but it is absolutely delicious with mushrooms, capsicum, onion and garlic. It has an amazing amount of dietary fibre and you can cook big batches of it on the stovetop and then freeze it for easy use in stews and soups as it also acts as a thickener. Barley is one of our earliest grains (as in civilisation, not Australia ;) ) and should be used more because it is packed with nutrients, fibre and possibilities. It just seems to have fallen out of favour. It can also be ground to make an amazing flour that can be used as a thickener. Welcome to the barley lovers club! ;) Did you want to enter the draw for the next Serendipity Spoon by the way? Let me know :)

  4. I do remember lemon barley cordial being around when we were kids (in a you said no powdered drinks here in Aus) but it doesn't seem to be around anymore.

  5. Barley can be sprouted in a similar way to wheatgrass, it is meant to be very nutritious. Years ago I tried beer making using barley I roasted myself - I don't remember it being a very successful brew. This is a simpler barley water recipe that I use

  6. great ideas everyone! I will be trying risotto. I was also thinking that if I was ever organised enough I could try putting the just-sprouted barley in my bread (but I would have to get the timing perfect). My only problem now is I've run out of lemons!! No more fermented drinks until I build up my stash of frozen lemon juice again....


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