According to historians, barley is the earliest grain that has been domesticated. It appears that it was the main source of bread for the ancient Hebrews, Greeks, and Romans. When discussing the earth’s produce, holy history frequently refers to grain—especially wheat—as the Jews particularly valued it.
Early Greeks and Romans nearly exclusively fed their civilians and warriors with barley. According to the following instructions, the flour was turned into gruel: “Dry, by the fire or in the oven, twenty pounds of barley flour, then parch it. Add the required amount of water together with three pounds of linseed meal, half a pound of coriander seeds, and two ounces of salt. A small amount of millet was also included to give the paste more “cohesion and delicacy” if a particularly delicious meal was sought. Barley was also consumed whole, in which case it was first dried; this method of preparation is still used today in some regions of Palestine, several provinces of India, and the Canary Islands, where it is known as gofio.
In England during the reign of Charles I, barley meal nearly fully replaced wheat as the staple diet. It continues to be a common staple of the peasantry and soldiers in several regions of Europe, India, and other Eastern nations. It was primarily utilised for producing bread by the early immigrants of New England.
Compared to wheat, barley is less nutritive and, to many, has a less palatable flavour. Additionally, it has a little worse digestion. Because they are less soluble, its starch cells provide higher resistance to gastric juice.
Although there are numerous other types of barley, the one that is grown most frequently is known as two-rowed or two-eared barley. The barley grain is structurally similar to oats and wheat. Scotch milled or pot barley is the name given to the grain when its outer husk is simply removed. When the fibrous outer covering of the grain is further removed, the result is what is referred to as pearl barley. Patent barley is the name for pearl barley that is crushed into flour. Because barley flour has such a low concentration of gluten, it must be combined with wheaten flour for baking bread. Some people believe it enhances the flavour of whole-wheat bread when added in modest amounts, which tends to keep the loaf moist.
The form of pearl, or Scotch, barley is the form in which this cereal is most frequently used as food. The digestion of well-boiled barley takes roughly two hours.