Ancestral Skin Recipe: Drink Up with Barley Water

Kombucha. Kvass. Chia juice. The list of Old World-inspired health drinks hitting the market is growing. But spending $4 a bottle when you need to hydrate is a bit much.  Making homemade beverages from ancestral recipes, however, is easier than you think.

For the past few months, I’ve been stocking my fridge with a fresh bottle of organic Barley Water and loving the health (and skin!) benefits.  The ancient Greeks were the first to drink boiled barley.  It was later adopted by the British and is still fairly popular in Europe as a home health remedy or, in some places, as a soft drink.

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Traditionally, Barley Water is made with water, barley and an assortment of fresh squeezed juices.  Barley has been shown to reduce inflammation and help skin create a stronger barrier to protect itself from outside pollutants.  It also aids digestion, is a good source of fiber and selenium, and is considered a key grain in protecting against heart disease, diabetes and many other ailments.

My recipe below is adapted from an old Irish recipe (which originally appeared in Whole Living magazine).  It’s easy to make and lasts about 10 days in the fridge.  I typically drink one cup per day in the morning.  And don’t throw out the barley when you’re done brewing!  I separate it from the barley water and eat it like oatmeal for a few days.

Irish Barley Water Recipe
Makes about 2 quarts
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 1 hour


2 ½ quarts water

½ cup organic pearled barley

6 organic navel oranges*

2 organic lemons (I like using Meyer)

2 tablespoons organic brown sugar (add more if you want a sweeter taste)

Recipe Instructions

Bring 2 ½ quarts water to a boil.  When water begins to boil, add pearled barley and simmer for one hour.

Juice oranges and lemons.

Drain barley water into glass container (I use two large Mason jars).  Add juice and brown sugar.  Stir and pour yourself a glass!

*Get creative with your juiced fruit!  Use blood oranges, kiwis or even apples in place of the oranges.

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