Barley vs. Farro: What’s The Difference?

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Eating whole grains like rice, wheat, or quinoa is essential for a healthy balanced diet. Drains provide a good amount of low GI carbohydrates that our body can use for energy and restore our glycogen fuel stores. According to the survey, the per capita consumption for grains was 44kg per person in 2019, and in Germany, this number was roughly 77.6 kg per capita.

 As it can be seen, we consume a lot of grains, but eating the same thing repeatedly can become boring, especially if you are someone who is following a healthy balanced diet. To tackle this problem, people try different types of grains. Two such popular types of grains are Barley and Farro.

Barley and Farrow are quite popular worldwide. Survey shows that the global production of Barley increased to 159.75 million metric tons in 2021 from 156.41 million metric tons in 2020. And according to a new report published by Technavio, the global Farro market is expected to reach around $48 million by 2023.

There are still many misconceptions surrounding Barley and Farro, despite being popular. And in this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about these nutritious grains. So, let’s get started.


Farrow is a staple food for many around the globe, providing an ample supply of fiber and protein with a delicious nutty flavor. It’s most popularly used in Italian recipes like farrotto and the hearty Zuppa-di-farro or farro soup, and from Italy, it was brought to the US and was slowly popularized. The reason people (including expert chefs) loved it was its ability to retain its consistency even after cooking; This makes it the perfect side dish to be used as a base in grain bowls or as a delightful Farro salad.

Farro is popular in many different cuisines today, but it was first popularized in Mediterranean cuisine. The word Farro is Italian, and it denotes the various types of early grains brought back to Rome in 44BCE from the Fertile Crescent.

Is it Gluten-free?

Gluten is an essential part of many different grains. It is the protein that holds the food together and gives it a stretchy texture when we mill the grain and add water to it. And Farro contains gluten, like any other wheat product. So, if you have a gluten allergy or celiac disease, try to avoid Farro.

Farro Types

According to the degree of pearling (the degree to which the Farro’s outer covering is removed), Farrow is divided into three categories:

Semi-pearled Farro: Has a faster cooking time in comparison to the whole-grain type and has more nutrients as compared with pearled Farro.

Whole-grain Farro: It is also called the berry Farro and requires overnight soaking to be cooked. It has the outer bran and germ in addition to the endosperm.

Pearled Farro: It quicks much faster than the other types because it has the outer covering (barn) removed. But this also means that it has a lower nutrition value. This type is the most commonly sold in the US.

Farro is also categorized according to various sizes and species:

Farro Grande: It is a different species of Farro known as Triticum Spelta (also called large Farro or spelled). It is an ancient species, grown in southern Germany since 4000 BCE.

Farro Medio: This species is known as Triticum dicoccum (also called medium Farro). This type is the most commonly sold type in the US and different parts of Europe. It is also an ancient type but not as old as Farro Grande. The Babylonians are credited with first growing it around seventeen thousand years ago!

Farro Piccolo: Also known as Triticum monococcum, this smaller variety of Farro is commonly called einkorn, which is German for one Kernel.

Farro Cooking Time and Method

Farro can be cooked in various ways, and it may require different lengths of time depending on which type of Farro you use. The Pearled Farro can be cooked in under twenty minutes, Semi-pearled Farro in under thirty minutes, and Whole Farrow can take twenty to sixty minutes.

The most popular ways of cooking Farro are Absorption and Pasta method. In the Pasta method, you have to boil the Farro-like pasta in salted water, and In the Absorption method, you have to cook the pasta until it absorbs all the water, which is usually from two to three cups for one cup of Farro. 


Barley is a popular cereal grain used by many different people for different reasons. Most commonly, it is used as food and to make medicine. The most common diseases treated with the use of Barley include cancer, heart disease, obesity, high cholesterol, and diabetes. Despite having a good effect on health, Barley nor mead has no scientific evidence to support its health benefits. 

Barley is also used to make bread, used in soups, in salads, or eaten like rice. It is also a key ingredient in various granola bars. Unlike wheat, you don’t have to mill Barley to enjoy it.

Barley Types and Cooking Time

When it comes to choosing different types of Barley, you won’t have to do much thinking. There are two basic types to choose from; Pearl Barley or Hulled Barley. The main difference between these two types is the degree of processing. Pearled Barley is more processed and has the outer layer or the barn removed.

Hulled Barley is less processed, with the barn still in place but the Hull removed. The cooking time for each type is different, with Hulled Barley taking longer to cook than Pearled Barley. You can use both types interchangeably, but each type has different uses. 

So What’s the Difference Between Barley and Farro?

Farro is similar to Barley in many ways. One of the key differences is in their size and shape. Farro is slightly larger than Barley, and it has an oblong shape, while Barley is smaller with a rounder shape. Other than that, Barley and Farro can be used interchangeably.