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Lemon Barley Water

31 May 2009

The Consort and I are suckers for clearance cookbooks at the bookstore. Usually they’re on clearance because there is something wrong with them (for example, not including the number of servings made with each recipe), and many of them, I’ve noticed, are from the UK. (I wonder if they ship unsaleable U.S. cookbooks to England?)

Recently we picked up a book titled Smoothies, but really, that’s a misnomer since only a handful of the recipes are actually “smoothies”. It has an interesting selection of unconventional non-alcoholic drinks, and I think it will be fun to experiment with these ideas. I’m tired of the oversweetened powder mixes we usually buy in the store (even though we buy the unsweetened version which we can sweeten to our preference [less than they suggest, that’s for sure]) with their crazy fake colors and synthetic flavors. (But I’m also tired of water all the time — sometimes you want a little flavor in your liquids!)

I forgot to take a picture of the first recipe the Consort made (a peppermint tea/grapefruit juice mix). But although it tasted a bit weird at room temp, once it was thoroughly chilled it was quite refreshing.

Yesterday, I made lemon barley water. It seems that this is a pretty popular drink in England, but I had never heard of it except once, in a young-adult fantasy novel by Tamora Pierce (Terrier — highly recommended, by the way).

Lemon barley water

It’s so simple! A handful of pearled barley simmered in 8 cups of water for 20 minutes. (Also in the water were the rinds of 3 lemons, which I then juiced and kept aside.) Take it off the heat, mix in the juice of the 3 lemons and 3/4 cup sugar, then let it all cool (this steeping takes a couple of hours). Strain it into a pitcher, and chill until nice and cold. Serve over ice.

The barley added a softness to the lemonade — I think it must be the gluten which it adds to the water. So easy to make, and it makes for a nice change from regular lemonade. (And supposedly is good for the complexion — an extra perk!)

The Consort is at a conference, but this one gets 3+ votes from the rest of us.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Three of Four permalink
    1 June 2009 2:13 pm

    I LOVE barley water! The few summers I got to travel to London, I drank almost nothing but.

    Enjoy!

    • Peaceable Imperatrix permalink*
      2 June 2009 6:22 am

      I didn’t know that!. Well, now you’ve got a simple recipe to reproduce it at home. 🙂

  2. 2 June 2009 12:58 pm

    I am going to have to give this a try. I know of barley water only from Jane and Michael’s “wish list” letter to their new nanny in Mary Poppins: “Never be cross or cruel / Never give us castor oil or gruel / Love us as a son and daughter / And never smell of barley water”

  3. Cateling permalink
    3 June 2009 10:35 am

    Haha, I am with Marsha on the immediate Mary Poppins recognition. 🙂

    I’m looking forward to more reports on your new soft drink recipes!

  4. 6 June 2009 10:42 am

    I’ve never seen barley water here, though I’ve heard of it. Did you know lemonade here is Sprite in the US?

    I think maybe the Brits have moved on to Pimms and other alcoholic drinks.

    • Peaceable Imperatrix permalink*
      7 June 2009 10:40 am

      I didn’t know that, but I’m not surprised. In Belgium, “limonade” is Sprite, “orangeade” is like Fanta. It’s so interesting how British English isn’t as close to American English as we think, even beyond pronunciation and word differences like “boot” and “kerb”

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