Barley. According to the Roman historian Pliny, barley was the most ancient of Man's cereal
foods, and certainly the grain has been found in excavated Stone Age dwellings Chinese sacred books say that barley was known in China over 2,000 years ago, and Exodus relates that the Hebrews in ancient Egypt used the grain. Barley is grown all over the world. It is suited to practically every climate and will thrive where it is too cold for wheat. In tropical countries it can be cultivated on high ground. The thin roots of barley do not go as deep as those of wheat or oats, so it can be grown successfully where the top soil is shallow. Botanically, barley is of the genus Hordeum and belongs to the family Graminae. A wild barley is found in western Asia. All modern varieties are derived from the species Hordeum sativum, and three principal varieties are cultivated. They are named according to the number of rows of grain which they produce. Six-rowed barley is sown during the winter, and is used chiefly for feeding livestock. The four-rowed variety (sometimes known as bere barley) can be sown either in winter or in spring. The grain is of comparatively poor quality, but because it is extremely hardy it can be grown in cold northern climates. Two-rowed barley is the kind most frequently cultivated in the United Kingdom. It is not so hardy as the other varieties and is normally sown in the spring. But from the two-rowed barleys comes the finest grain for malting. Farmers try to grow what is called " a good malting sample," which they can sell to brewers and distillers for a far better price than they can get for the " coarse grain " for feeding animals. Milled barley is of great value in fattening livestock, particularly pigs, and the grain is widely grown for this purpose alone. Barley has been cultivated in England for centuries in order to make alcoholic drinks. It is the basis of beer and whisky, and "John Barleycorn (sometimes " Sir John Barleycorn ") is a very old personification in English ballad of malt liquor made from barley. Robert Burns wrote : Inspiring bold John Barleycorn ! What dangers thou canst make us scorn ! Barley also provides the malt which is used for medicinal purposes and in a number of foodstuffs. Although bread made from barley flour is eaten in many parts of Europe, and is probably as nourishing as wheaten bread, barley is not used for this purpose by the British. It contains very little of the substance called gluten, which is necessary to produce a really good loaf. The small round grains known as pearl barley are barley which has had the husk removed ; it is used in soups and stews. Flour milled from barley is used for thickening soups and for making gruel for invalids— barley water is also made from it. A barleycorn " (a grain of barley) was at one time a measure of length. But since either three or four grains were reckoned to make an inch—end the grains vary in size—it can hardly have been a very accurate standard.