What is Barley Malt Syrup?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2015
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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 โ€œsugar highโ€ 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 โ€œoffโ€ or develops a crust of mold, it should be discarded.


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Post 9

I used malt barely syrup for the first time to make bagels. I bought it over the internet and when it arrived it had "exploded" and was running out of the cap. I was able to pour some out and save it; however, when I checked my cupboard this morning, it had expanded and broken the bottom "seam" of the plastic bottle and was all over my cupboard. I was able to save about half of it and since I won't be using all that much, I'm not going to bother trying to return.

My question is, will it not expand if kept in the refrigerator and should you not store it in an airtight container? --Bobbie

Post 8

@MikeMason-- Yea, I use barley malt syrup for baking all the time, it works great. I have only made bread though, I haven't made cakes and sweets.

You can easily replace the honey with barley malt syrup without problems. Yeast absolutely love barley malt syrup, so it will make your baked goods even better than before. Not only will they be more fluffy but they will also take on a slightly golden-brown appearance after they bake.

I think all bakers, regardless of whether it is a profession or a hobby for them, should experiment baking with barley malt extract and syrup. I'm really happy with the results I've gotten with this sweetener.

Post 7

Has anyone used barley malt syrup for baking?

I've never baked with barley malt syrup before. I usually use honey syrup in my breads and pastries. I'm worried about how the yeast in pastries would react to the barley malt syrup.

Post 6

@summing-- As the article said, barley malt syrup is less sweet than sugar, it's about half as sweet. So technically, you can use a 1:2 sugar to barley malt syrup ratio in recipes.

I personally like to start out with a 1:1 ratio and add more if I feel necessary. Even though barley malt syrup isn't as sweet, it does have distinct flavor that you might not want too much of if you're using it for the first time. So it's best to start out with a smaller amount and work up the ratio if you feel it's necessary.

Post 5
I always have mixed feeling about malt flavor. In some things I think it tastes great, but in others I find the flavor kind of gross and overpowering. Sometimes I crave something malty and other times it is the last thing in the world that sounds good.
Post 4

So if I am understanding this right, you can cook with barley malt syrup in place of sugar?

How much do you use and do you have to make any other special accommodations, like bake at a different temperature?

Post 3
I really like to eat a drizzle of barley malt syrup over vanilla ice cream. It is not as sweet or strong as chocolate or caramel syrup, but it has a great flavor that compliments the simple ice cream.
Post 2

There are so many sweeteners that are natural and often found organically produced, and, do not contain gluten. Some are maple syrup, agave syrup, Stevia, honey and fruit.

Post 1

Can you please tell me if Barley malt syrup is gluten free. It does not sounds as though it will be. Can you suggest an alternative that is gluten free to use in a wedding cake? Thank you.

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