Pearled Barley Pearled means lightly refined, or milled, to remove part or all of the germ and bran, but retains its endosperm (a substance that inhibits cholesterol formation). Pearled barley has a mild flavor and is chewy, less nutritious than whole barley. It does retain significant amounts of fiber, because it contains fiber throughout entire kernel and not just in the outer bran layer. Once cooked, it can be used in salads, to thicken soups, broths or stews or for stuffing. Pearled barley does contain small amounts of gluten.