Barley is a grain used as a staple food, as well as animal feed.
Barley is not gluten free. Whilst it does not have the same form of gluten much loved by bread bakers, it has a protein called hordein which is equally harmful to people sensitive to gluten, including those with coeliac disease.
When cooked, barley has a somewhat springy or chewy texture.
Hulled barley has had the inedible hull removed, leaving the bran behind—this is typically considered a whole grain. Pearl barley has had the bran removed, and it is somewhat analogous to white rice. Barley groats can also be flattened like rolled oats.
It is often used in soups and stews as in its hulled or peal forms. It can be malted and crushed for making beer and other malt products. It can also be ground to flour in its raw and malted forms for use in baking.