Lemon Barley Water

While visiting Australia during the hottest of summer months, we discovered chilled lemon barley water to be one of the most refreshing, thirst quenching drinks to enjoy when hot or thirsty. And, it’s good for you! It contains magnesium that helps regulate glucose, as well as fiber and lignans.


2 quarts filtered water
1 cup hulled barley (pearl barley), rinsed*
2 lemons
1/3 cup sugar (or honey) or to taste


Place the water and barley into a 3-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Using a vegetable peeler, pare away the lemon peel and taking care not to cut into the white pith. Juice the lemons and set juice aside.

After the barley is cooked, strain the hot barley water through a fine mesh strainer into another saucepan and add the lemon peel. Stir in sugar (or honey). Cool to room temperature. Add lemon juice and whisk to combine.

Strain and decant the cooled barley water into a pitcher, mason jars or wine bottle with a cork. Refrigerate until chilled. Stir or shake before serving. Serve over ice with a slice of fresh lemon and a sprig of mint or scented geranium.

*You can find pearl barley in the bulk section of grocery stores. Locally, it’s available from New Leaf Market.


Don’t throw away cooked barley — add a little salt and pepper and serve as you would rice. Or, add the cooked barley to soup, baked beans or chili. It’s an excellent source of fiber. You can also enjoy cooked barley for breakfast! Warm the barley, add milk and maple syrup or sugar (plus a little cinnamon) and enjoy as a cereal.

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