While barley has been the traditional choice for beer and bread, it has become increasingly popular to eat the sprouts. Most barley sprouts easily within two to four days, and the sprouts are sweet and delicious in salads, but can also be added to sandwiches and blended in vegetable drinks. Fresh sprouts last about one to two weeks in the refrigerator after the sprouting process has been completed, but the rice, wheat, beans and barley seed can be kept for years if stored in a dark, cool, dry place. Plan ahead. While sprouting takes only a few minutes of time on your part, the barley will take two to three days to sprout.
Rinse 1 cup of barley thoroughly. Pick through the barley carefully during the first rinse, as seeds and beans can contain foreign objects that you want to dispose of before use.
Place barley in a large bowl or Mason jar and add 2 to 3 cups of cool water. Cover and allow to soak overnight (8 to 12 hours) at room temperature.
In the morning, pour out the water, rinse the barley thoroughly in a strainer, and add another 2 to 3 cups of fresh water. Cover and let it soak all day (8 to 12 hours) at room temperature, but out of direct sunlight.
Pour out the water on the second evening, then rinse the barley a third time. Add another 2 to 3 cups of fresh water, cover and soak overnight (8 to 12 hours).
Repeat the rinse and soak cycle once or twice more, depending on the length of the sprouts.
Keep fresh sprouts in a covered container in the refrigerator (they'll last one to two weeks). Although the steps assume an evening start, you may also begin the process in the morning.
While barley and other seeds and beans can be kept for years, check carefully for signs of fungus, moulds and insects before using, especially if they have not been kept in an airtight container.