Lemon Barley Cordial

Apparently the Greeks were to first to think of boiling grain in water and drinking it. But really it was the British who bought barley water to the world. Robinsons Barley Water is perhaps the best known brand, possibly as it has had a long association with Wimbeldon. Barley water was also thought to be good for invalids as it provided some nutrition and hydration to those who had lost their appetite. There are all sorts of other claims associated with barley water from reducing wrinkles to soothing an inflamed stomach. I can’t substantiate any of these claims – I just drink it because I like it.

Barley water would originally have been intended to be drunk as it was made but making it as a cordial concentrate means that it keeps for much longer and you can dilute it as you go.We don’t drink a lot of soft drink at home. I hate the fizz and so tend to drink cordial instead. Before anyone goes mad about the amount of sugar in cordial we’re not talking about litres a day and not only that but homemade cordial has no colours or artificial additives to make it glaringly bright or to keep it shelf stable for ever and a day. I store the cordial I make in the fridge – the humid Brisbane weather isn’t particularly conducive to leaving cordials and the like on the pantry shelf and the colour isn’t florescent yellow, green or red. A glass or two each day won’t hurt.

Despite the title, the cordial I made todayis actually a lemon and lime one as I had quite a bit of both. I like my citrus things to have a good citrusy flavour and a real tang so if you like it a little mellower you may need to adjust the quantities of zest a bit.

Lemon (and Lime) Barley Cordial

  • 500g pearl barley (I find this in the supermarket down the soup and tinned vegetable aisle)
  • 3 litres water
  • 10 cups sugar (I used a combination of white and raw sugar this time. Raw sugar adds a nice malty flavour but the browner colouring might be a bit off putting)
  • zest and juice of 6-8 lemons (depending on size and your preference for zest. You can also use a combination of other citrus)
  • 75g citric acid (from the baking aisle of the supermarket)

Add the pearl barley and the water to a large saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer with the lid on for 40 minutes.

Combine the lemon zest and juice, the sugar and citric acid before adding the hot barley water

Put the remaining ingredients in a large bowl. Drain the barley retaining the water and pour over the sugar and lemon. Stir and cover and let sit for 24 hours. Strain and bottle. Store in the fridge for several weeks. To serve dilute with water or mineral water to taste.

This makes quite a thick concentrate so you won’t need to use a lot.



Filed under Bits & Pieces that Don't Fit Anywhere Else, Uncategorized

14 responses to “Lemon Barley Cordial

  1. Sigrid de Jong

    Hi Julia
    I really like your blog……it’s very down to earth and you make all the recipes sound very do-able. I also like the background and bits of information that go along with each recipe. The pictures are great and very helpful. Keep it up!

  2. best of all we got to drink some of this cordial – usually everything is whisked away to be sold at the moggill or bardon markets. some cheecky folk even drive up to our front door to pick up orders – rack off the lot of you!!!! you are starving the other matusik’s out of home…we are fading away…don’t you know that home is where your stomach lives

  3. Hi Julia

    I have tried to follow your blog, but I am having problems! Will continue to try! I make preserves, cordials and fruit vinegars. I have a glut of lemons left over after making a stack of ginger and lemon cordial. Am going to use your recipe (with a Cuffufle twist (!) to make come lemon barley water. A food co-op I am in had stacks of pearl barley on sale for a ridiculously cheap price….. I love it when a plan comes together.

    Do you always use caster sugar?


  4. Hi Rachel,

    Sorry to hear you are having problems subscribing. I’ll see if I can add you from this end. I am have some redesign work done on the site so whether or not that happening behind the scenes is making a difference I don’t know.

    We are just coming into lemon season here so I am always looking for lemon ideas. Lemon and ginger is one of my favourite cordials, but the lemon barley is good also. I tend to use caster sugar a lot because that’s what I use in baking and have in although I use standard white sugar in my preserves and cordials.

    Good luck with the cordial.


  5. Hi again Rachel, I’ve just realised that you are on my old site – I moved over to a self hosted site a few months ago so that might explain your difficulties in subscribing. I’ve tried to subscribe you to the new one which is just juliaspantry.com.au so if you get a confirmation email you know why!


  6. Cheers!

    I think I have just subscribed!! I’ll let you know if I have!


  7. I’m thinking lemon and mint, but it is winter here and I decimated my mint last year.with a huge batch of apple and mint chutney. Need to try and find a friend with a plentiful amount of mint in their garden, shouldn’t be hard!

    I love Britain and love living here and have no intention of moving anywhere else, but I am always so jealous of the fruit and veg that grows in Hotter climates. You are about to enter the Lemon season……. the green eyed monster in me is stirring! My partner is Portuguese and when we visit, especially in Summer, there is fruit galore growing here there and everywhere! In India in May time there are mangoes aplenty. I’ve yet to visit Australia – so maybe I shouldn’t as i may be tempted to move!

    I so however have apple, pear and cherry tree in my garden so I can’t really complain!


    • I’m always jealous of your cold weather produce which we don’t see here. A cherry tree would be fabulous. Still we do make up for it with an abundance of tropical fruit.

  8. i suppose you very right. My cherry tree is my pride and joy – still quite young – 6 years old and it didn’t do well last year, but nor did man fruit trees as we had a very warm March and the bees came out early then went back into hibernation with the frost. When they woke up again it was raining so much and hard that they couldn’t fly. I love bees too!

    Rachel x

  9. Pingback: Lemon and Barley Cordial | DesignerFoodie

  10. Spot on with this write-up, I truly believe this site needs a great deal more attention. I’ll probably be returning to
    read through more, thanks for the information!

  11. What is the role of citric acid in the lemon barley water? As a preservative?

  12. Damien

    Are u sure its 75gm for citric acid in Lemon Barley Cordial….thats a lot of acid?

  13. vivian

    75 gms is excess…barley water now is bitter..whats the right amount?

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