In addition to wheat, rye and oats, barley is one of the best-known cereals. Just like the other three cereals, she belongs to the family of sweet grasses. During a walk through golden yellow summer fields, you can distinguish the barley from its relatives usually good: Compared to wheat and rye, it has particularly long awns that can be up to 15 inches long.
In the case of barley, the grains are surrounded by a protective coating known as husks. Since grains and husks are fused together, the grain contains a high proportion of cellulose. This is typically between eight and 15 percent. Cellulose belongs to the fibers and is therefore indigestible. Dietary fiber provides a better satiety and stimulate digestion. In addition to fiber, 100 grams of barley also contain the following ingredients:
- 12.7 grams of water
- 9.8 grams of protein
- 2.1 grams of fat
- 63.3 grams of carbs
- Minerals and vitamins B and E
In the case of minerals, barley is particularly rich in magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron and phosphorus. The grain also contains many essential amino acids, that is, amino acids that the body can not make itself. Among the essential amino acids in the barley include leucine, phenylalanine or valine.
Beware of gluten intolerance
Like cereals, rye and wheat, barley also contains gluten. The Gluten gluten, in conjunction with water, ensures that bread can rise when baking and that it retains its shape even after baking.
While cereals such as wheat are well suited for the production of bread because of their high gluten content, only little gluten is present in the barley. Nevertheless, people with a gluten intolerance (celiac disease) should better abstain from barley foods. Otherwise it can come to a chronic inflammation of the mucous membrane of the small intestine. Typical symptoms of such inflammation are diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss and fatigue.
Since beer is also brewed from barley, people with gluten intolerance should also reduce their beer consumption. Gluten-free cereals such as corn, rice or millet can be used as an alternative to the gluten-containing cereals.
Barley: origin and cultivation
Cereal barley is one of the oldest cereals in the world, originally from the Middle East and the Eastern Balkans. Probably here was around 10,000 BC. Barley grown before around 5,000 BC Then the barley also found its way to Central Europe.
In the case of barley, a distinction is made between two- and multicellular forms. While the two-celled form only forms a strong grain per attachment site, there are three grains per attachment site in the multicellular forms.
In addition, a distinction is made between winter and summer barley. Winter barley is already sown in September and is more productive than the spring barley. The latter is planted in the spring and can already be harvested after 100 days. After the harvest, the barley must be stored dry, otherwise mold threatens.
Barley: Various uses
Winter barley is used primarily as animal feed and is therefore also referred to as feed barley. Compared to spring barley it has a higher protein content, which is between twelve and 15 percent. The summer barley is mainly used for beer brewing. Malting barley should have a protein content of 9.5 to 11.5 percent and a germination capacity of at least 97 percent.
To make barley beer, the barley must first be cleaned and freed from the awns, their bristly extensions. Then the barley is soaked in the water, which starts the germination process and the formation of enzymes. These ensure that the strength of the barley is converted to malt. After a few days, the malt is dried in a hot room and the germination process is stopped. In addition to beer, barley malt also produces whiskey and malted coffee (barley coffee).
In Asia, barley is also used to make barley tea. In the past, barley tea was also used in Europe as a remedy for stomach and throat diseases. For food, however, the grain barley is rarely used, it can be further processed into groats, barley or flour. Barley flour is still used in the production of bread, especially in poorer regions of Asia and Africa.