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Sunday, 4 March 2012


Evidence that humans were grinding wild barley and grass seeds to make dough at least 22,000 years ago has been found on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

Around 8000BC The people of Mesopotamia, who dwelledn the Tigris and Euphrates river valleys began  to plant seeds themselves and are grow their own barley.

It was a Mesopotamian who discovered by accident the first alcoholic drink-beer. After some barley bread crumbs fell into water and started fermenting, someone tasted it, enjoyed it and began experimenting with different brews, made with different combinations of barley grains and water often with inebriating consequences!

The medium of exchange for many of the ancients was barley. It was replaced by metal coins around 625BC in Greece.

The Vikings had a varied diet. The first meal of the day, called “dagveror”, was a porridge consisting of a mixture of barley and rye cereals. With it the wealthy might have rye or wheat bread which was considered superior to barley as it rose better. However barley was cheaper and barley bread was still the chief bread of the poor.

No other cereal can thrive in so wide a range of climatic conditions; polar barley is sown and reaped well within the Arctic Circle in Europe.

Barley is no longer much used in bread making, but it is used in soups and stews and as a starch. Its high-protein form is widely used as animal feed, and its low-protein form is used in brewing and distilling alcoholic drinks.

Source Hutchinson Encyclopedia © RM 2012. Helicon Publishing is division of RM.

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