Yesterday’s beer making adventured left me with about 12 cups of spent barley. I’m not one for wasting, so I gave it a taste. It wasn’t shabby. The grain was removed right at the boiling stage in the wort process, so there was still plenty of flavor, and I assumed there was a bit of nutrition left over too. It tasted a bit like wild rice, but full of coarse hulls. The texture was too rough to serve as a dinner side dish, like a pilaf or something, but it was too useful to toss.
I started out by heaping 4 cups of the grain into the bread machine along with water, wheat flour, salt, honey, cranberries, cinnamon, and yeast. The bread turned out terrific, dense with loads of dried fruit and barley, but airy at the same time and just the right amount of bittersweet.
Next I tried making cookies, modifying an oatmeal recipe by adding 2 cups of the barley instead of oats. I accidently left out the melted butter sitting in the microwave, but just as well. I saved a little on fat and didn't miss the flavor. The cookies turned out more like a biscuit or breakfast bar. I’m guessing the lack of crunch comes from the lack of fat. The cookies are tasty, but not as good as the bread. The real test will be to see how long 4 dozen last around the boys.
The final experiment was dinner. I made a savory meatloaf by stretching 2 lbs of grassfed ground beef with 3 cups of grain to make dinner for the boys and weekend leftovers. My boys easily eat 2lbs of burger in one sitting. It’s ridiculous. Stetching the meat and infusing fiber into their diets was easy with the barley. The meatloaf looked, smelled, and sliced like any meatloaf I've ever made. I don't make meatloaf often, maybe three times per year, so the boys don't have a meatloaf standard. This may be why they didn't notice a difference or lodge a complaint. I’m guessing they enjoyed their food, slathered in ketchup and inhaled in five minutes of silence. The remaining three cups of cooked barley went to 2 very appreciative chickens.
I can’t wait to start my summer beer – a hefewiezen infused with orange peel…