Barley Water with the “Worts” Recipe

in posts,Raw Food,Vegan

Lately, I’ve been reading a lot about the health benefits of barely water – and there are many of them, some of which I will get into at the end of this article.  While barley water might sound strange to Americans, it is actually very popular in Europe.  It even comes in lots of different fruity and spicy flavors, and as a soda.  My interest in barley water was further piqued when I found it mentioned in the Doctrine and Covenants of the Church of Latter-Day Saints.  In section 89, verse 17:

“Barley for all useful animals, and for mild drinks, as also other grain.”

Which started me thinking about mild drinks.   I’ve always understood that phrase to mean slightly-fermented drinks and, knowing that some fermented drinks like kombucha and raw-milk kefir are super foods, I wondered if a mild barley drink would also be good if it were slightly fermented.  Thus began my experimenting.


I looked at all the recipes for barley water online and there’s not much to it: just boil some barley, strain out the barley, and wait for the water to cool, and sweeten or flavor it.  You can toss or eat the strained barely.

Most barley water recipes called for pearled barley, which is barley without hulls and what you will probably find in most stores.  I wanted to experiment with hulled barley (which only has the tough inedible outer shell removed).   I figured that with the hulls still on, there might be more minerals and the barley might sprout.   The only place I could find it was the bulk section of my local health food store.  There are some brands which sell packaged hulled barley though.

In the Old World, the first stage of making beer was sprouting the barley.  The water used for sprouting the barely was known as “worts” in the beer making industry.  The beer makers would drink this “worts” when they felt they were coming down sick with something and take it home to their families to ward off illness.
What I wanted to do was create a “worts” water first by allowing the grain to sprout in water (but not cook this water), then boil the sprouted barley in new water.  This would help get the beneficial minerals out of the barley.  Finally, I would combine the two waters for my drink.

Health Benefits of Barley Water

  1. High amounts of insoluble fiber, so it is great for cleansing the intestines and provides food for healthy bacteria.
  2. Barley is high in niacin, selenium, calcium and magnesium, phosphorus, copper (great for arthritis sufferers), zinc, all the B vitamins and potassium.
  3. Barley and barley water is used to treat bowel problems, lower cholesterol, kidney stones, asthma and lung disorders and arthritis.

Barley Water Recipe


  • 1 ounce (2 TBS) hulled barley  (not pearled, but with hulls)
  • 2 quarts chlorine-free water
  • ¼ to 1/3 cup honey (optional)


  • Combine 1 quart of the water with the barley in a jar, cover with paper or cloth and let sit room temp for 3-4 days.   Watch for bubbles the 2nd or 3rd day….this is good it means that it is sprouting and coming alive.
  • After 3 or even 4 days, strain off the water and reserve it with a lid in the fridge.
  • Put the sprouted barley in a pot with another quart of water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cook for 40 -45 minutes.
  • Allow to cool down and strain out the barley.  Eat it or throw it out.
  • The boiled water should be a pretty pink color.  This is from all the copper that has been drawn out of the barley.
  • While water is still warm, you can sweeten it with some honey (about 1/4 to 1/3 cup).
  • When cooled, add to the reserved barley water in a 1/2 gallon container if you have one.  The taste with or without the honey is very mild and pleasant.  It satisfies thirst on hot days.   My husband enjoys this and so do I.

Note:   I have tried eating the sprouted barley and it still doesn’t agree with my system.  It makes me gas up. Barley is an AVOID for me on the blood type food lists, and I thought it would change when sprouted, because some other AVOIDs do change, but this one still gives me trouble so I don’t eat it.  My neighbors’ chickens like it.

Joanne Seal is the voice behind Fermenting in Utah, a blog which helps readers take their diet and health up a notch by trying fermented foods like breads, tea, beets, cabbage, and milk.  Visit




This article appears in ISSUE 21 of Healthy Juicing Magazine

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