Barley is wonderful stuff!

The word barley is a very very old word, going back to the earliest known languages, maybe 9,000 years old, and barley itself is a grain of the grass family and it was one of the first domesticated grains of the ancient fertile crescent in western Asia and north-east Africa. Using barley has been linked with human development going back so far it is almost impossible to give a date, but certainly for more than 14,000 years!!

It would have been cooked in stews and potages, ground and made into breads and baked foods, and it was probably what gave neolithic people beer, yes, beer has been around for a very long time too. Barley was also used as feed for animals, and was turned into malt, which has so many uses! As children we were given malt extract for whatever nutrients it contains!

I love baking with barley flour, it gives such a soft, sweet bread with a wonderful almost nutty flavour. I love using pearl barley in soups and stews, particularly lamb or mutton stews,although we weren’t quite so successful with barley porridge… maybe we should have cooked it longer!


Oats and beans and barley grow,
Oats peas beans and barley grow,
Can you or I or anyone know
How oats and beans and barley grow?

First the farmer sows his seed,
Then he stands and takes his ease,
He stamps his foot and claps his hands,
And turns around to view his lands.

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