Wheat vs. Barley

Difference Between Wheat And Barley

Wheat, a grass that is the most widely grown of all the cereal grains. Wheat products are the principal cereal foods for an overwhelming majority of the world’s inhabitants. In the United States, for example, wheat-based foods make up about 24% of the average diet. Wheat (genus Triticum) belongs to the grass family, Poaceae, in the order Cyperales, class Liliopsida.

The preeminence of wheat as a food results from several factors. It is adapted to a wide variety of soil and climatic conditions and so can be grown throughout the world. It is economical to produce and gives good yields of grain with excellent storage properties. Its extensive use in the human diet is due to its mild, acceptable flavor as well as the ability of its principal proteins to form gluten when mixed with water to make a dough. The gluten gives a soft, springy quality to bread doughs and enables them to retain the carbon dioxide produced by yeast fermentation; this permits the production of light, finely textured loaves of bread. Flour from corn or rice does not have gluten and so yields rather heavy loaves.

Wheat consists principally of proteins and starch with smaller quantities of other carbohydrates, fats, pigments, certain vitamins, and minerals. It contains the important B vitamins—thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin—but no vitamin C unless the grain is sprouted. The yellow pigments present in wheat consist chiefly of xantophyll, which does not give rise to vitamin A when ingested. The embryo (germ) of wheat is a rich source of vitamin E.

Barley is a cereal grain belonging to the grass family. This family includes wheat, oats, rye, and rice. Barley is an important cereal grain because it is able to thrive in a variety of climates. Barley grows from the Arctic to the Andes and from the Himalayas to Ethiopia. And it grows in climates that are too cold or too dry for other cereal grains.

Barley is similar in appearance to other members of the grass family. Like all grasses, it flowers and produces seeds. Grain heads form at the top of stems. The plant usually reaches a height of about 30 inches (76 centimeters).

There are hundreds of varieties of cultivated barley around the world. Size, color, length, and stiffness of the head are just a few of the characteristics that vary from variety to variety.

No matter what their special characteristics, all types of barley can be classified by the arrangement of the grains in the head. The most important commercial barleys are the two- and six-row types.

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