Barley is the earliest known cereal to be harvested. It is low in gluten, so it is not good for bread but is used in soups and gruels. Barley is a basic ingredient in brewing and distilling where it is converted into malt. Pearl barley is grain which has been hulled and milled until it is pearly in appearance and is used in soups and stews. It is now really only a staple in the Middle East.