Barley gets bare naked for Grains Week at Wellspent Market
We grow a lot of barley in Oregon, but most of it is used to make beer or feed cattle. And the majority of what we actually eat is pearled, a process that grinds the tough hull off the barley berry. Unfortunately, it takes most of the nutrients and fiber, so pearled barley lands in the same category as white rice or industrial bread, an incomplete carbohydrate best eaten only occasionally.
Plant researchers at Oregon State University Barley World are working to reintroduce eaters to naked barley. Varieties that easily shed their tough outer hull, naked barleys have been around forever, but not widely cultivated as a food crop. Similar to wheat berries like freekeh and farro, naked barley offers a rich, nutty flavor and a slightly chewy texture. Use it wherever you need a flavorful, nutritious grain. At Wellspent Market, we sell organically grown naked barleys from Ayers Creek Farm and Nana Cardoon’s Tuality Great Grains.
When Anthony & Carol Boutard started growing barley, they planted small plots of several different varieties to see what grew well at their Willamette Valley farm and, more important, what tastes best. After a couple of harvests, they still couldn’t decide, so they kept growing them all. Their Ayers Creek Migration Barley includes naked barleys from Japan, Nepal, Italy, Arabia, and North Africa, and it’s delicious. The mix of light and dark colored berries looks pretty, too.
Nana Cardoon, an urban farm and education center just west of Portland, created its Tuality Great Grains project to reintroduce area eaters to locally grown grains. They work with small farmers to grow the deeply colored Purple Karma and Purple Valley naked barleys.
We first made this salad for a holiday party for our friends at Sugarpine Drive-In to demonstrate how shio koji can lightly ferment vegetables. Shaved Brussel sprouts are tossed with salt and shio koji, then left at room temperature overnight (the same approach works great with cabbage, too). Then they’re tossed with cooked naked barley and green onions. A dressing inspired by Japanese flavors combines citrusy ponzu, umami-packed miso, briny dried kelp, rice vinegar, and extra virgin olive oil.
Mother’s Day is coming right up and to help celebrate, our friends at Colibri have put together some special bouquets for Wellspent Market. They’re in limited supply and will be available to pick up at the shop on Friday, May 7th through Sunday, May 9th.
To make things even sweeter, we’ve put a couple of our favorite pink wines on sale too. Nee Bulleuse is a delightful sparkling gamay from France, and tastes like fresh strawberries dipped in stardust. Limited Addition’s Cab Franc Pet-Nat, from our own Willamette Valley, is bright and juicy, perfect for a spring picnic or a long lunch in the garden.
Bouquets and bubbles sale starts Friday through the weekend.
As you may have heard, the medical crisis in India is growing more dire every day and without access to oxygen many people there are at risk of dying unnecessarily. Like many, we were unsure about the best way to help until our friends at Diaspora Co. brought Khanna Chahiye Foundation to our attention. Beginning now and through the month of May, we’ll be donating all proceeds from the sale of the products we carry with Indian origins to the Khanna Chahiye Foundation. This includes all products from One Stripe Chai, Alaya Tea and Diaspora Co. We also encourage you to donate directly to the Khanna Chahiye Foundation, a citizen-led organization dedicated to ensuring India’s most vulnerable populations have access to both food and medical care.