is stated by historians to be the oldest of all cultivated grains. It
seems to have been the principal bread plant among the ancient Hebrews,
Greeks, and Romans. The Jews especially held the grain in high esteem,
and sacred history usually uses it interchangeably with wheat, when
speaking of the fruits of the Earth.
Among the early Greeks and Romans, barley was almost the only
food of the common people and the soldiers.
was made into
gruel, after the following recipe: "Dry, near the fire or in the oven,
twenty pounds of barley flour, then parch it. Add three pounds of
linseed meal, half a pound of coriander seeds, two ounces of salt, and
the water necessary."
If an especially delectable
dish was desired, a
little millet was also added to give the paste more "cohesion and
It was also used whole as a food, in
which case it was
first parched, which is still the manner of preparing it in some parts
of Palestine and many districts of India, also in the Canary Islands,
where it is known as gofio. Of this custom a lady
from Palestine writes: "The reapers, during barley harvest, take
bunches of the half-ripe grain, and singe, or parch, it over a
fire of thorns. The milk being
still in the grain, it is very sweet, and is considered a delicacy."
In the time of Charles I, barley meal took the place of wheat
almost entirely as the food of the common people in England. In some
parts of Europe, India, and other Eastern countries, it is still
largely consumed as the ordinary farinaceous food of the peasantry and
soldiers. The early settlers of New England also largely used it for
bread making. At the present day only a very insignificant quantity of
barley is used for food purposes in this country, and most of this in
the unground state.
It is less nutritious than wheat, and to many people is
less agreeable in flavor. It is likewise somewhat inferior in point of
digestibility. Its starch cells being less soluble, they offer more
resistance to the gastric juice.
There are several distinct species of barley, but that most
commonly cultivated is designated as two-rowed, or two-eared barley. In
general structure, the barley grain resembles wheat and oats.
Simply deprived of its outer husk, the grain is termed Scotch
milled or pot barley. Subjected still
further to the process by which the fibrous outer coat of the grain is
removed, it constitutes what is known as pearl barley.
Pearl barley ground into flour is known as patent barley.
Barley flour, owing to the fact that it contains so small a proportion
of gluten, needs to be mixed with wheaten flour for bread-making
purposes. When added in small quantity to whole-wheat bread, it has a
tendency to keep the loaf moist, and is thought by some to improve the
The most general use made of this cereal as a food, is in the
form of pearl, or Scotch, barley. When well boiled, barley requires
about two hours for digestion.
Suggestions for Cooking Barley.—The conditions requisite for
cooking barley are essentially the same as for oatmeal. It is best
cooked slowly. Four parts of water to one of grain will be needed for
steaming or cooking in a double boiler, and from four to five hours'
time will be required, unless the grain has been previously soaked for
several hours, in which case
three hours will do.
If the strong flavor of the
grain is objected to,
it may be soaked over night and cooked in fresh water. This method
will, however, be a sacrifice of some of the nutriment contained in the
grain. Barley thus soaked will require only three parts water to one of
barley for cooking.
Barley.—Soak six tablespoonfuls of barley in cold water over
night. In the morning, turn off the water, and put the barley in an
earthen pudding dish, and pour three and one half pints of boiling
water over it; add salt if desired, and bake in a moderately quick oven
about two and one half hours, or till perfectly soft, and all the water
is absorbed. When about half done, add four or five tablespoonfuls of
sugar mixed with grated lemon peel. It may be eaten warm, but is very
nice molded in cups and served cold with cream.
Barley with Raisins.—Carefully look over and wash a cupful of
pearl barley. Cook in a double boiler in five cups of boiling water for
four hours. Just before serving, add a cupful of raisins which have
been prepared by pouring boiling water over them and allowing them to
stand until swollen. Serve hot, with cream.
Barley with Lemon Sauce.—Pearl barley cooked in the same
manner, but without the addition of the raisins, is excellent served
with cream or with a lemon sauce.
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