A cultivated cereal as old as the earliest beginning of agriculture, barley is grown over a wider range of climate than any other grain. One of the five staple grains used for human consumption and malting, barley is most important as a livestock feed.
Barley is believed to have been used by prehistoric man for making beer. Today, more than 10 per cent of the world crop is used for this purpose.
When the husk is removed barley is called pot barley, scotch barley or hulled barley and is used in the preparation of stews, soups and haggis. Husked barley, steamed, rounded and polished in a mill, is known as pearl barley and is used to thicken soups and stews. Pearl barley ground into a fine flour, is called patent barley.
When barley is ground coarsely to make a wholemeal flour it is called barley meal and is used to make porridge and gruel.
It is also used in the preparation of some kinds of bread. Pressed and flattened barley grains are called barley flakes and are used in making milk puddings and gruel.