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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.


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