Barley Facts

Fun Facts

  1. There are over 30 species of barley, of which common barley (Hordeum vulgare) is what we cultivate today!
  2. Hordeum, the latin name of barley comes from the latin word horreō, horrēre meaning “to bristle”!
  3. Barley has a genome size over twice the size of humans!
  4. Malted barley is often added to all purpose flour due to it’s enzyme activity to help dough rise. Malt is also a key ingredient in malt vinegar, can added to pet food for it’s nutritional value or as a replacement for wheat flour in flatbreads. Barley can even be roasted as a coffee substitute, minus the caffeine!
  5. Barley was a key part of a gladiators diet!
  6. It is hotly contested whether bread or beer were the driving forces behind cereal domestication. With wheat eventually dominating bread production and barley dominating beer production!
  7. Barley straw and the spent grain from breweries can be used to prevent algal blooms!

Health Benefits of Barley

  1. Barley has a lower starch content than wheat or corn
  2. Barley provides greater dietary fiber than wheat or corn from increased beta-glucan
  3. Barley improves the protein status in feedlots due to the increased protein content over corn

Barley Classes

  1. Barley can be split in multiple classes. The key classes being malt, feed and food.
  2. Malt barley is typically 2-row, low in protein and high in diastatic power for beer or whisky. In the US, malt barley used to be 6-row.
  3. Feed barley is typically 6-row and high in protein for extra yield and nutritional value for animal feed. Feed barley may also need hooded for for extra palatability.
  4. Food barley is similar feed barley, but often naked to easily remove the hull before human consumption. Food barley can also be made from hulled barley by removing the outer hull, sometimes called pot barley. There is also rolled barley flakes (similar to rolled oat flakes), pearl barley (outer bran removed) and barley grits (made from naked, pot or pearl).
  5. However, these distinctions do not always hold true, such as naked malt barley. There are also winter and spring barley classes with winter barleys commanding a yield boost but require earlier planting.