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Harvesting barley

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    Received an email from a lady in New Zealand. What a woman! This lady is showing the way for all you Aussie girls. She’s got rid of the front lawn and sowed it in barley to make home brew. Can anyone answer her question about when and how to harvest barley? I’ve never grown or harvested it.

    I’m looking forward to toasting 2009 with a bumper crop of homegrown beer. In September I dug up my front lawn and resowed it with barley. (I actually wanted to sow oats to make my own muesli but was persuaded that barley was easier, with the added bonus that I could attempt to make my own malt for home brewing!) My barley lawn is now about 1m high and this week it has changed dramatically, from lush green to the colour of Van Gogh’s hay stacks. The seed heads are fattening up so it seems to be going to plan. Except I have no idea when or how to harvest the stuff! Any idea?


    The nice thing about this barley is that it turns black when it is ready to be harvested.


    I’ve never seen barley that turns black!! What kind of barley are you talking about Dan? I haven’t had much experience with cereal crops but as far as I know it is best to leave the crop until it is nice and dry but harvest just before the grain is going to drop out of the heads. You may need to use a reaper or some such implement. At work we use the old hand shears (for shearing sheep) and grab handfuls, cut it off near the base and shove it in bags with the heads at the bottom of the bag. Then you can bash the bag against a wall or something similar to knock the grain from the heads. There may still be some grain left in the heads. You can then rub the heads that are not completely empty to get the remaining grain out. You may end up with a little trash with it. The best way to get rid of this is to lay the grain out on something and use a fan of some type to blow across the grain. The trash will blow away, leaving the clean grain. I hope this makes some kind of sense.;)


    I had a friend who used to grow and harvest this by hand..


    The trick isn’t really growing it, it is malting it. I am an avid all grain brewer and the art of the maltster is a science in itself. The grain must be baked I believe. The longer the roast the darker the grain and thus the beer. I have some grain here for dark beer that is black.

    gypsy bob

    I believe the grain is sprouted to turn the carbohydrates into sugars and then roasted.


    Making malt

    Brewing starts with barley. The starches in barley cannot be fermented, so they must be converted into a fermentable form, by malting. The grains of barley are soaked in water and allowed to germinate. Then they are heated and turned regularly, either in the traditional ‘floor’ maltings or in huge rotating drums.

    When germination has unlocked the rich natural sugars in the barley, the grains are heated in a kiln, which stops germination. The degree of heat affects the type of malt produced and its flavour – high heat produces dark roasted malts, lighter heats lighter coloured malts. Malt does not just give the wherewithal to produce alcohol, it also gives colour and the body of flavour of the beer..

    this was taken from (Its isn’t easy!!)

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