Current and Potential Barley Grain Food Products1
Barley (Hordeum vulgare), one of the most widely adapted cereal grain crops, can be produced under a wide spectrum of environmental conditions. It remains an important staple food crop for people in many environmentally challenged regions where other cereal crops grow poorly, although its role as a food crop is minimal in regions where wheat and/or rice are widely grown and easily available. Global concerns over food-related health issues are increasing the demand for foods that provide not only energy and nutrients, but also health benefits. In this role, barley grain, which is relatively rich in β-glucan, tocols, minerals, and bioactive phytochemicals that induce low glycemic response and cholesterol and/or high antioxidant activity and other potential health benefits, has received unprecedented attention from food scientists, nutritionists, food manufacturers, and consumers. One major obstacle to increasing consumption of barley in mainstream foods is the relatively meager sensory quality of barley-based food products. To increase the use of barley as a food source, systematic efforts to identify appropriate barley varieties for specific food products, apply suitable processing techniques, and develop foods with preferred sensory qualities are needed. Notable progress has been made in processing barley grain for food applications and in development of potential food products or ingredients for cereal-based foods such as bread, noodles, tortillas, pasta, flatbreads, cupcakes, and cookies. This article describes the preparation of current and potential food products that could be made from or in which barley could be incorporated to increase its consumption and take full advantage of its associated health benefits.