Nixtamal Pt 1

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Title: Nixtamal Pt 1
Yield: 1 Servings


4 qt Water
2 qt Dried corn
5 tb Slaked lime CaOH

Nixtamal is dried field corn soaked in, and heated in, a solution of slaked
lime and water. Slaked lime, calcium hydroxide, is generally available in
the form of "builder's lime" -- not to be confused with unslaked lime,
calcium oxide. Unslaked lime can't be used for making nixtamal unless you
slake it first by adding it to water, allowing it to bubble and then stand
for a bit, and then using the WATER for processing the dried corn. It's the
lime, by the way, that contributes to the unique taste and texture of corn
tortillas. After the corn has soaked for the required length of time
(depending on whether making nixtamal for masa or pozole), it's rinsed to
remove the lime and then rubbed to remove the husks.

Mix lime and water in a large, non reactive (enamel or stainless steel)
pot. Place pot over high heat and stir until lime is disolved. Add corn
and, stiring occasionally, bring to a boil. If making nixtamal for masa to
make tortillas, boil for a couple of minutes, remove from heat, cover and
let soak overnight. If making nixtamal to make masa for tamales, boil for
about 15 minutes, remove from heat, cover and let soak for a couple of
hours. If making nixtamal for pozole, boil for 15 minutes and let soak for
another 5 to 10 minutes. After soaking for the desired length of time,
rinse the corn in a colander to remove all traces of the lime while rubbing
the kernals to remove the softened hulls. Once cleaned, the nixtamal can
then be ground into masa or left whole to be further simmered until tender
to make hominy for pozole or menudo.

Making tortillas using fresh masa or masa harina...

Masa harina is fresh masa that's been dried and then ground into a
flour-like consistency, to make masa harina you must first make masa. Masa
harina is similar to, but not the same as, fine ground cornmeal. Trying to
make corn tortillas out of regular cornmeal, even finely ground, would
probably be unsatisfying. I suppose it would be possible to make nixtamal
for tortillas, grind it into masa, dry it, grind it again and then
re-hydrate it to make tortillas. But why not just make fresh masa from
nixtamal and then make tortillas with it. Both nixtamal and masa can be
frozen for later use.

If you wanted to be authentic, you could use a metate (a flat stone made
from lava rock) and mano (sorta like a flattened, oval shaped rolling pin
also made from lava rock) to grind the corn into masa...but a plate-style
grain mill is a lot easier. My hand cranked Corona brand does double
duty...I not only use it for masa but also for grinding grain, malted
barley and other specialty malts for homebrewing. For tortilla dough, you
need to adjust the plates for a fine grind to come up with a smooth dough
that isn't grity. Tamales can be made from masa ground a little coarser
allowing the use of a food processor if a plate mill isn't available. It
might be possible to use a food processor for tortilla dough, but I doubt
you would end up with the smooth

continued in part 2