Common barley

One of the oldest cultivated grains

Barley is one of the oldest cultivated plants in Europe and Asia and was one of the first plants to be cultivated by humans. It adapts very well to the particular climate of a country and even ripens in Norway or the Himalayas. During the Bronze Age, around 3,000 B.C., common barley succeeded in almost supplanting the then established ancient grains einkorn and emmer. One of today's most famous species, Fisser Imperial barley, originated in the higher elevations of the municipality of Fiss in the Austrian Tyrol.


How common barley thrives


Like other ancient grains, common barley is naturally very hardy: It is undemanding, weather-resistant and thrives on barren, nutrient-poor soils. So no artificial fertilisers or pesticides are needed. This protects the soils and contributes to ecological biodiversity in the fields.  



How to handle common barley


Common barley is also a nutritional grain, meaning that the grain is enclosed by a solid husk, which protects it from harmful environmental influences. Because the grains are still enclosed even after the husks have been threshed, they must be removed in an additional operation in special mills.

Clicking on the points shows photos of Fisser Imperial barley at various stages of processing: Grains, flakes, meal and flour.

Common barley is gaining in popularity in bakeries as it gives baked goods an aromatic nutty flavour. Like other ancient grains, common barley is suitable for preparing baked specialities such as breads, baked goods and fine pastries. However, the baking properties of ancient grains are not nearly as good as those of modern wheat, since they have comparatively weak gluten properties. The exclusive use of ancient grains in pastry recipes can therefore lead to difficulties in manufacturing and unsatisfactory baking results. 

To meet these challenges successfully, it is important to use specially developed recipes and appropriate dough processing methods. Ancient grains can then be used to produce enjoyable, high-quality baked goods, which meet the needs of modern consumers. Meanwhile, several suppliers are supporting interested bakers with proven solutions to produce exclusive ancient grain specialties.