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Barley is a grain, or cereal, that grows very much like wheat. However, it is hardier than wheat or any other cereals and may be grown through a greater range of climates. Barley has been cultivated from the most ancient times; in fact, its cultivation can be traced as far back as man's occupations have been recorded. The grain of this cereal has also played an important part in the advancement of man, for, according to history, some of the present weights and measures originated from it. Thus, the Troy weight grain is said to have been first fixed by finding the average weight of a barley grain, and the inch of linear measure, by placing three grains of barley end to end.

Although several varieties of barley have been cultivated as food from the earliest times, the grain is now used principally in the manufacture of malt. In this form, it is used for the malting of foods and in the making of alcoholic liquors. To produce malt, the barley grains are moistened and allowed to sprout, and during this process of sprouting the starch of the barley is changed to sugar. The grains are then dried, and the sprouts, which are called malt sprouts, are broken off and sold as cattle food. The grain that remains, which is really malt, is then crushed and combined with other grains for use as malted cereal food. When barley is used to make malt, or fermented, liquors, it is soaked in water, which absorbs the sugar in it; then yeast is added, and this produces alcohol by causing the fermentation of the sugar.

In the United States, pearl barley is the name applied to the most common form of barley used as food. In this form, the layer of bran is removed from the outside of the barley grain, but no change is made in the grain itself. Pearl barley is used for soups and as a breakfast cereal, but for whatever purpose it is employed it requires very long cooking to make it palatable. Very often the water in which a small amount of pearl barley has been cooked for a long time is used to dilute the milk given to a child who has indigestion or who is not able to take whole milk.


Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Volume 1.


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