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Difference Between Barley and Wheat

Barley Vs Wheat

Many ask the question ‘Is barley a type of wheat or vice versa?’ Well actually the two, although they are related, are two very different types of grasses.

Barley, scientific name Hordeum vulgare, likes to thrive during warmer seasons. That’s why it is often harvested during springtime and across summer whereas wheat, scientific name Triticum aestivum, is harvested during the start of winter or later part of fall. Obviously, wheat thrives best during cooler climates.

Barley is a yearly grass type that has blades with shorter ligules yet smoother sheaths. Barley’s leaf blades are erect but in a tufted manner. It has many uses. The most common of which is its use to procure cereals. It can also be used as a livestock fodder and more popularly to brew beer. For the latter, the more starchy barley is used while the ones utilized for food purposes are those that have a higher protein value.

Wheat is another grass grown annually which is characterized by its hollow rachis. It also has erect leaf blades like that of the barley but are flatter in shape. With regard to its use, wheat has a very high commercial value because it is usually grown for the grain it yields. This grain is a precious economic commodity in making breads, flour, livestock feeds and also alcohol. On top of these common uses, the wheat grass can also be used to make wheat baskets, carpets, paper and even bedding for cattle.

The two differ in other aspects. More alcohol can be made with barley, not wheat. The latter is also perceived as a less tough grass having a weaker taste than barley. In addition, whole grain barley is usually consumed because of its higher fiber content than whole grain wheat. Barley is much easier to use because it can be cooked whole like how you cook rice (as in the case of pearled barley) while wheat needs to be milled first before you can use it.

Nonetheless, the two also has some significant health concerns especially to those who have sensitivity to gluten like in Celiac diseases. People having such are advised not to consume either barley or wheat because of their gluten content.

In Summary:

1. Barley thrives in warmer climates unlike wheat that favors cooler seasons.

2. Barley is more often used to make beer products than wheat.

3. Barley is a tougher grass, not to mention a stronger product than wheat in terms of flavor or taste.

4. Whole grain barley has higher fiber content than whole grain wheat.

5. Barley can be cooked whole while wheat has to be milled first prior to cooking.

wheat image by Artur Ciba from Fotolia.com


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5 Comments

  1. how can i know the difference more clearly just by looking at them

  2. This was a fabulous answer; thank you.

  3. Summary #5 is 100% incorrect. Barley must be dehulled before cooking for eating (but not for malting in brewing for instance), unless you want what amounts to a mouthful of chaff with every bite. The author is likely thinking of pearl barley which has been processed to remove much, or all, of the bran. Or possibly dehulled barley, which is exactly what it sounds like, and looks very similar to wheat.

    Wheat certainly can be cooked whole (it does not have a tough hull like barley), and makes a very nice salad or hot cereal. When I was younger with wonderful teeth I’d eat a little handful of wheat raw straight from the combine. I wouldn’t try that today, but a week or so before harvest when the kernels are still fairly high in moisture raw wheat is marvelous snack, though you have to thresh it out in your hand! You wouldn’t want to try that with barley unless you had a very good supply of toothpicks.

  4. I am sure you have not used spell check as this article is full of spelling mistakes which makes it really annoying to read. Suggest you get a proof reader.

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