Organic Whole Barley Seeds
Barley as a Garden Plant
Barley is known for its role in cover crops but it may also be turned into flour and is an important ingredient in beer making. Barley is typically better suited for larger plots of land but it can be done in smaller home gardens. Barley is a cool-season grass that is also used as a food source in animal husbandry. In the US, barley grows better in cooler climates than most cereal crops. If you are planting barley as a cover crop, it is seeded with legumes, but if you are growing it as a food crop it is grown alone. Barley can also be planted in a container, but don’t expect a very high yield from this method. Well-draining soil, weed-free soil, and full sun are all important variables in growing healthy barley.
If you have ever enjoyed a beer, you have likely consumed barley in the form of malt barley. Barley is the fourth largest grain group grown worldwide. In the US, close to 3 million acres of barley are planted yearly, with 75% of this used by the malting industry. Barley is typically grown on large farms, and not often found in smaller home gardens. In addition to its use in beer, it is also a popular item in soups, bread, and health products. Barley has very little gluten so be aware of this if you choose to incorporate it into your baked goods. Traditionally, barley flour is used to make unleavened bread. Pearl barley compliments the fresh vegetables nicely in a leafy green salad and adds a great, slightly chewy texture.
- Soups and stews
- Beer brewing
Barley can adapt better to a variety of climates better than most cereals. This ability likely contributes to its widespread use throughout the globe. Archaeological evidence shows that barley was domesticated sometime around 8,000 B.C. in the Fertile Crescent. Around 4200 B.C. domesticated barley had spread as far as Eastern Finland and reached Greece and Italy several hundred years later. Around 1500 B.C. barley was grown in the Korean Peninsula in addition to other crops such as millet, wheat, and legumes.
Jared Diamond, in his book Guns, Germs, and Steel suggests that the prevalence of barley in southwestern Eurasia, in addition to other domesticated foods and animals, had a huge impact on many of the patterns that human history has followed over approximately the last 13,000 years.
Barley played an important role in many religious traditions. In the Bible, barley is referenced in the book of Deuteronomy to illustrate the fertility of the Promised Land. ‘Yava’, the Sanskrit word for barley, is mentioned numerous times in Indian scriptures as one of their primary grains. Barley’s religious significance extended into the Middle Ages in Europe and was used in determining justice, through alphitomancy, a form of divination in ancient Greece. In the practice of alphitomancy, the members of a group would consume baked goods made of barley with the thought that the guilty party would experience indigestion while the innocent would feel well. Additionally, the corsned, a similar method of determining the guilty party in the Anglo-Saxon judicial system, involved barley.
Barley has a pleasant nutty flavor, is high in complex carbohydrates with notable amounts of protein, minerals, and B vitamins. Barley contains a significant amount of fiber, which is beneficial for healthy digestion and may help reduce cholesterol. Additionally, barley has a lower glycemic index than some grains, like rice, which is ideal for individuals who are trying to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.