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What is Barley Malt Syrup? An In-Depth Guide to Its Uses and Benefits

Barley malt syrup is a natural sweetener derived from sprouted, malted barley. This unrefined sweetener boasts a unique flavor and a rich, dark color, making it a popular choice for use in cooking and baking, as well as in the production of beer. With its makeup of approximately 65 percent maltose, 30 percent complex carbohydrates, and 3 percent storage protein, barley malt syrup offers a slower release of sugar into the bloodstream compared to simple sugars.

The production process of barley malt syrup involves malting the barley grains, during which they produce maltose – a distinctive type of sugar. This malting process also increases the levels of B vitamins in the final product, and contributes trace amounts of certain minerals. Overall, barley malt syrup is a versatile ingredient with a range of culinary applications, from enhancing the flavors in yeast breads and bagels, to serving as a natural sweetener for various dishes and beverages.

Key Takeaways

  • Barley malt syrup is a natural, unrefined sweetener derived from malted barley grains, offering a unique flavor and rich, dark color.
  • The production process involves malting barley grains, which increases B vitamins and contains trace minerals in the final product.
  • With its versatile culinary applications, barley malt syrup is used in cooking, baking, and beer production, as well as a natural sweetener alternative.

Production of Barley Malt Syrup

Sprouting Barley Grains

Organically grown barley is the primary ingredient used in producing barley malt syrup. The first step in the process involves sprouting the barley grains. Soaking the barley grains in water for a certain period allows them to germinate, which initiates the formation of enzymes crucial for breaking down complex carbohydrates.

Malting Process

Once the barley grains have sprouted, they undergo the malting process. During malting, enzymes present in the sprouted barley break down the complex carbohydrates present in the grain into simpler sugars, such as maltose. This step is essential for producing the sweet, distinctive flavor of barley malt syrup.

Kiln-Drying and Cooking

After malting, the sprouted barley grains are spread out in a thin layer and dried using a kiln. The kiln-drying process halts enzyme activity and helps develop the malt’s unique color and flavor profile. Next, the malted barley is cooked to further break down starches and proteins, which enhances the syrup’s consistency and taste.

Concentrating into Syrup

Finally, the malted barley is concentrated into syrup. The liquid extracted from the cooked malted barley undergoes evaporation to remove excess water, resulting in a thick, dark brown, and sticky barley malt syrup with a malty flavor. This unrefined sweetener contains about 65% maltose, 30% complex carbohydrates, and 3% protein, making it a natural alternative to refined sugar in various culinary applications.

Characteristics of Barley Malt Syrup

Flavor and Sweetness

Barley malt syrup has a strong and distinctive flavor, often described as “malty.” Its sweetness is about half as sweet as refined white sugar, making it a milder sweetener when compared to other alternatives such as honey, sugar, and maple syrup. Containing approximately 65% maltose, barley malt syrup provides a sugar that enters the bloodstream more slowly than simple sugars, resulting in a more balanced sweetness.

Color and Consistency

The appearance of barley malt syrup is characterized by a dark brown color and a thick, sticky consistency. This syrup’s rich color and texture can also contribute to the visual appeal and mouthfeel of the dishes it is used in. Although it is primarily used for its malt flavor and sweetness, these distinct characteristics make it a versatile ingredient in various culinary applications.

Nutritional Profile

Calories and Carbohydrates

Barley malt syrup contains approximately 60 calories per tablespoon (21 grams). The majority of its composition is carbohydrates, with around 16 grams per tablespoon, 8 grams of which are sugars. It has about 65 percent maltose and 30 percent complex carbohydrates, making it half as sweet as refined white sugar.

Vitamins and Minerals

Though barley malt syrup is not a significant source of vitamins, it does contain some beneficial minerals. In each tablespoon, you will find around 65 milligrams of potassium. However, you won’t find significant amounts of other minerals, such as sodium, calcium, or iron.

Protein and Amino Acids

This syrup can also contribute to your daily protein intake, albeit small. Every tablespoon provides around 1 gram of protein, consisting of 3 percent storage protein (prolamin glycoprotein). Even though the protein content is minimal, it may still offer some health benefits.

Soluble Fiber

While barley malt syrup does not contain a notable amount of soluble fiber, the complex carbohydrates in the syrup help provide some relevant health benefits. Remember that barley malt syrup is not a rich source of soluble fiber but can still contribute positively to your overall health when consumed in moderation.

Culinary Uses


Barley malt syrup is a popular natural sweetener used in various baking recipes, especially for whole grain breads, such as pumpernickel and other dark breads. The enzymes in barley malt syrup help to quicken the proofing process in yeast dough, providing a faster fermentation. It is also used in the production of bagels, imparting a distinct flavor and promoting browning. When substituting barley malt syrup for other sweeteners in a recipe, remember it is less sweet than white sugar, so use about 1 1/3 cups of syrup for every cup of sugar.

Desserts and Treats

In addition to breads, barley malt syrup can be incorporated into several other baked goods like spice cakes, gingerbread, muffins, and cookies. Because it is less sweet than other sugars, it offers a unique flavor profile to desserts. It can also be added to hot cereals, pancakes, waffles, and used to sweeten ice cream. Barley malt syrup can even be used to make “malted” beverages, by combining it with plant-based milk, ice cubes, cocoa, and a banana in a blender.

Glazes and Sauces

Barley malt syrup works well as a glaze or sauce for dishes featuring vegetables like squash and sweet potatoes. It can often be used as a substitute for blackstrap molasses, although it has a milder flavor. Another application is as a base for barbecue sauces, providing a rich, dark color and complex sweetness. When substituting for brown sugar in glazes, use an equal amount of barley malt syrup.

With its versatility in the kitchen, barley malt syrup is a valuable natural sweetener for those looking to explore different flavors and textures in their cooking and baking endeavors.

Substitutes for Barley Malt Syrup

Barley malt syrup is a natural sweetener derived from sprouted barley. It has a thick consistency and a unique malty flavor, making it suitable for various recipes. However, if you cannot find barley malt syrup or require an alternative, several substitutes can yield similar results. This section focuses on four such replacements: maple syrup, molasses, honey, and brown sugar.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is a popular sweetener obtained from the sap of maple trees. It has a thin consistency and a distinctive flavor that works well in various recipes. Although maple syrup is less sweet than barley malt syrup, it can be an excellent alternative. Use the same amount of maple syrup as you would barley malt syrup in your recipe.


Molasses is a byproduct of sugar production and has a dark color and a rich, slightly sweet taste. It is also less sweet when compared to barley malt syrup, making it a suitable alternative in recipes requiring a more subtle sweetness. Use molasses in equal proportions to barley malt syrup in your recipe. Be cautious when using blackstrap molasses, as it has a stronger flavor that may overpower the dish.


Honey is a widely known natural sweetener, and its consistency closely resembles that of barley malt syrup. You can use honey as a 1:1 substitution for barley malt syrup in your recipes. Keep in mind that honey is sweeter than barley malt syrup, so you may need to adjust the amount used according to your taste preferences. As honey is available in various flavors, choose a mild-flavored variety to keep the original recipe’s taste profile intact.

Brown Sugar

Brown sugar is another alternative to barley malt syrup. It consists of refined white sugar mixed with molasses, giving it a moist texture and a rich, caramel-like flavor. You can use brown sugar in recipes that call for barley malt syrup, but you’ll need to adjust the liquid content as brown sugar is a dry sweetener. Typically, for every 1 cup of barley malt syrup, you can substitute 3/4 cup of brown sugar and add an additional 1/4 cup of liquid to compensate for the missing moisture.

Using these substitutes will allow you to recreate recipes that call for barley malt syrup while maintaining the desired flavor, texture, and sweetness. Always remember to adjust the amounts based on sweetness levels and the specific consistency required in your recipe.

Non-Food and Industrial Uses

Barley malt syrup is a versatile natural sweetener with applications beyond the culinary world. In the pharmaceutical industry, it is utilized as a natural sweetener and binder in the production of various medications and supplements. Due to its low glycemic index and rich flavor, it can be beneficial to patients with dietary restrictions and those who prefer alternative sweeteners in their medications.

In the manufacturing sector, non-diastatic barley malt syrup is used as an additive in certain processing methods. Non-diastatic malt syrup contains no active enzymes, unlike its diastatic counterpart, which means that it doesn’t affect the fermentation process. As a result, it is employed in various industrial applications, such as in the production of malted milk powders and as a humectant in confectionery.

The use of barley malt syrup in these industries showcases its adaptability and efficacy as a natural component. Its unique properties and flavor profile make it an attractive option for manufacturers and producers seeking to incorporate environmentally friendly and health-conscious ingredients into their products.

Purchasing and Storage

Barley malt syrup is a natural sweetener made by malting barley grains, which produce maltose during the process. It is dark brown, thick, sticky, and has a distinctive malty flavor. This sweetener is commonly used in brewing, baking, and various food industries.

When it comes to purchasing barley malt syrup, you have several options. One of the most convenient ways to buy it is online. Many popular e-commerce websites and specialty food stores carry a variety of brands, including Eden Foods, which is known for its high-quality organic products. Alternatively, you can find barley malt syrup in the baking or natural sweeteners section of most grocery stores. Local health food stores and specialty shops might carry it as well.

Once you’ve brought home your barley malt syrup, proper storage is essential to maintaining its quality and shelf life. Keep the syrup in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Make sure the container is tightly sealed to prevent moisture and air from entering, which can cause the syrup to spoil or crystallize. If stored correctly, barley malt syrup can last for months. However, always check the expiration date and any signs of spoilage before using it.

To sum up, barley malt syrup can be easily purchased online or at your local grocery store, with Eden Foods being a reputable brand to consider. Proper storage in a cool, dry, and dark location with a tightly sealed container will help maintain its quality and ensure its long shelf life.

Types of Barley Malt Syrup

Barley malt syrup is primarily found in two types: diastatic and non-diastatic. These types differ mainly in the presence or absence of active enzymes that influence the fermentation process.

Non-diastatic barley malt syrup is a natural sweetener made from malted barley grains. It is often used as an alternative to refined sugars and can be combined with other organic grain sweeteners or organic maple syrup to enhance sweetness. As a result of the malting process, non-diastatic barley malt syrup retains the distinct character of the grain, imparting a rich, dark color and a strong, malty flavor. Due to its unique taste, this syrup is commonly used in various foods to enhance their flavor profiles, while also adding nutritional value.

Sprouted whole grain barley is the main ingredient used in the production of barley malt syrup. The malting process includes germinating, sprouting, and drying the grains before being mashed and boiled to extract the sugar-rich liquid. This liquid is then evaporated to produce a thick, sticky, dark brown syrup.

While diastatic barley malt syrup might be more commonly used in the brewing industry and for dough, non-diastatic malt syrup is a versatile sweetener for various applications in the culinary world. It can be used in baking, cooking, and as a sweetener for beverages or even combined with other sweeteners to achieve the desired level of sweetness. However, it is important to remember that barley malt syrup is only about half as sweet as refined white sugar, so adjustments might be necessary in recipes.

In conclusion, barley malt syrup, particularly non-diastatic sweetener, is a natural, unrefined option for those looking to incorporate a unique flavor and nutritional benefits into their dishes. Its distinct character, derived from sprouted whole grain, enhances the flavor of various foods while providing a healthier alternative to refined sugars.

Barley Malt Syrup in Popular Culture

Barley malt syrup is a popular unrefined sweetener made from organic sprouted U.S.A. malting barley. Due to its natural production process, it is considered a wholesome food that offers a clean tasting, whole grain sweetener alternative to refined sugars. Artisan maltsters utilize the inherent properties of barley and the enzymatic activity of bacteria during the malting process to transform the grain into a versatile sweetener.

This non-diastatic sweetener is an excellent choice in recipes where a rich, dark color and distinctive malty flavor are desired. Barley malt syrup is frequently used in the baking industry to enhance the taste and texture of bread, cookies, and other baked goods. Moreover, this syrup is also often present in the production of beer, as it lends color, flavor, and fermentable sugars to the final product.

Barley malt syrup’s popularity in popular culture can also be attributed to its growing appeal within the health-conscious community. As an unrefined, nutrient-rich sweetener, it aligns with the trends of incorporating wholesome foods and clean eating habits into daily life.

In summary, barley malt syrup’s prevalence in popular culture can be traced back to its natural origins, versatile nature, and alignment with the ongoing pursuit of healthier alternatives to refined sugars.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the ingredients in barley malt syrup?

Barley malt syrup is made from sprouted barley grains. The sprouting process, also known as malting, allows the barley to develop enzymes that convert starches to sugars. These sugars are then concentrated and processed to create the syrup.

Where can I purchase barley malt syrup?

You can find barley malt syrup in natural food stores, specialty grocery stores, and online retailers. It is usually available in the natural sweeteners or baking ingredients sections.

What can be used as a substitute for barley malt syrup?

Some alternatives to barley malt syrup include molasses, brown rice syrup, honey, or maple syrup. However, keep in mind that each sweetener has its own unique flavor and consistency, which may slightly alter the final result of a recipe.

Is barley malt syrup similar to molasses?

While barley malt syrup and molasses both have dark, robust flavors and are used as sweeteners, they are not the same. Barley malt syrup is made from sprouted barley grains, while molasses is a byproduct of sugar production from sugarcane or sugar beets.

What is the purpose of using barley malt syrup in recipes?

Barley malt syrup is commonly used in recipes for its distinct flavor, which is slightly sweet and malty. It can also contribute to a rich color and improve the texture of certain baked goods, such as bagels and bread. Additionally, barley malt syrup’s active enzymes are valuable in the brewing and breadmaking processes.

Is barley malt syrup bad for your health?

In moderation, barley malt syrup can be part of a healthy diet. However, it is a sweetener and should be used sparingly, particularly for individuals with diabetes or those trying to reduce their sugar intake. Its nutritional content is similar to that of other natural sweeteners, but it should not be relied upon as a primary nutrient source.