Barley malt syrup is a natural sweetener made by malting barley grains. During the malting process, the grains produce maltose, a unique type of sugar. The sweetener has a unique flavor and a distinctive rich, dark color. Many stores sell the syrup for use in cooking and baking, and the substance is also used in the production of beer.
The cereal grain barley has been an important part of the human diet for thousands of years. It is hardy in both cold weather and droughts, and it has high nutritional value. There are numerous uses for barley, which can be eaten plain, ground into flour, or processed into other foods. The popularity of the grain has declined in favor of crops like wheat, but it can still be obtained in most grocery stores. The bulk of the modern barley crop is used in animal fodder and beer production.
To make barley malt syrup, barley grains are allowed to sprout, or germinate. The resulting sprouted barley is dried, often in a kiln or quick drying oven. Next, the sprouts are slowly cooked so that they form a sweet, dark syrup. The syrup is strained to remove impurities and then it is bottled or canned.
As a sweetener, the syrup is about half as sweet as conventional sugar, and it has a malty, molasses-like flavor. Because the sugars in barley malt syrup are very complex, they are also slowly broken down by the body. This means thatit will not cause a “sugar high” like refined sugar does, since it releases slowly. The syrup can be used alone in cooking, or it can be combined with other sweeteners.
In beermaking, barley malt is crucial. The malting process creates a high concentration of enzymes that can convert starches to sugars, an important step of the beer manufacturing process. In addition, barley malt is high in protein, so it will feed the yeasts used in beermaking. The malty flavor is also a valuable addition to beer, since many consumers seek out rich, malted beers.
The best place to store barley malt syrup is a cupboard. It prefers to be in a dry, dark, room temperature spot. Once it has been opened, it should be stored under refrigeration and used relatively quickly. As with any food product, if it smells “off” or develops a crust of mold, it should be discarded.