If I Can Make Masa From Dry Corn Anyone Can Do It
With a little time and a few proven steps you can be making you own Tortillas, and Tamales from Masa you made from scratch.
Making Masa From Scratch Starts With The Nixtamal Process
Preparing Corn to make masa starts with a process that was developed by the Aztecs called Nixtamal.
Nixtamal is partially cooking corn, in a lime solution that weakens the outer skin making the corn easier to grind, and helps to release its nutrients.
When the process of making masa left out the Nixtamal step people developed Pellagra, a condition that results from the lack of Niacin…
Seeds, Grains & Legumes
Seeds, Grains, & Legumes all are really just seeds that are supposed to grow new plants. Seeds have built in inhibitors that prevent the seed from germinating when the conditions are not right to grow a healthy plant, that inhibitor is Phytic Acid… When conditions are right Phytic Acid is deactivated and the seed is given access to all its nutrients so that it can grow into a healthy plant. But until the Phytic Acid is released, none of the seeds nutrients are available for use.
When we use seeds for food and the right conditions have not been met for the Phytates to be released, the nutrients contained in the seed is bound and cannot be used in our bodies for nutrition. It even goes a step farther, when we eat seeds that have its nutrients bound in Phytic Acid, the seed will bind with nutrients from outside the seed, meaning it will rob our bodies of nutrients we need, leaving us deficient…
How To Unbind Phytates
There are several things that we can do to release phytic acids hold on the seeds nutrition. In my opinion the biggest thing we can do is soak the seed, when seeds get wet they react as if they had been planted and Phytic Acid is no longer needed… But I have learned that soaking is not 100 percent effective at removing Phytic Acid, but it is a start… Sprouting and Fermenting the seed, grain or legume is another step we can take…
In The Case Of Dry Corn
Apparently the Aztecs found another way to remove or reduce Phytates and make Corns nutrients available… The Nixtamal process, the process I am using here.
Whole Dry Corn
When I shopped for Dry Corn, I did not know what to get, all I looked for was Organic Yellow Corn, I like yellow corn. I don’t know why but many prefer to use white corn for making masa.
I still like yellow corn, I feel it has more nutrition than white corn… I was disappointed and a little irritated, when I learned that many of the Yellow Tortillas sold in the stores, are not made with yellow corn, but instead have yellow dye as an ingredient, that gives it a yellow color.
I have since learned that many use dent corn and this might be dent corn, I still do not know… Some also use a corn grown for Hominy… I think next time I order corn I would like to try the Hominy Corn.
Sort & Wash Corn
Pick through the corn and remove all broken pieces and any that look sick or bad, then wash the corn to remove any dirt and dust…
Nixtamal The Corn
Put Corn In a large pot with enough water to cover the Corn by 2 or 3 inches… Bring the pot to a boil and add the Calcium Hydroxide ( Cal, Lime, Slacked Lime ) mix, and lower the temperature to a simmer, simmer for about 45 minutes or till the skin on the Corn wipes off easily.
Tip: Not all but some people will prepare the Lime in a solution of water before using… I did not do this because I couldn’t find the amount of Lime water to use, only the powder… Maybe I will experiment with it next time…
Let Corn Soak Over Night
When you are done cooking the Corn take it off the heat and let it soak overnight, I transferred mine to a large plastic bowl.
Wash & Rub The Corn
The next day, drain the liquid and with clean water, start washing and rubbing the Corn between you hands to remove the outer skin on the corn, continue washing and rubbing till the water is clear. When the water is clear the corn is ready to grind.
I have not tried this yet, but I plan to take an extra step because I am very sensitive to the lime (sometimes even boiled potatoes make my mouth sting). My husband did not have any sensitivity to the lime, and neither of us got sick from eating it…
No one else to my knowledge does this… I want to soak the finished corn in some water with vinegar before grinding next time, vinegar should neutralize any leftover lime… Then I would rinse well to remove any vinegar… This extra measure may not be needed for anyone else, most people don’t seem to have a problem eating Masa from Corn that has been soaked in a weak lime solution.
While searching, I found reference to Nourishing Tradition by Sally Fallon, that in her book she says to have an additional soak in buttermilk, yogurt or kefir. I have not read the book so I don’t know why she says this, but I am pretty sure all three are a kind of acid, which would neutralize a lye solution, or possibly they would start a fermentation process to further help with the removal of Phytates.
Interestingly, I decided to use a few tablespoons of buttermilk in my finished Masa, to help with my sensitivities… Hoping that the buttermilk would be just enough acid to fix my problem, and it seemed to work, I never thought anyone was recommending it…
My KitchenAid meat grinder has two disks, I started with the large hole disk and finished up with a second grind with the smaller hole disk… I even tried a third grind but it really did not seem to make that much difference, so would only do two next time.
What The Ground Corn Looked Like
Here the corn has been put through both grinds, all that is needed now is a small amount of water and to be kneaded into a dough… Add water a tablespoon or two at a time, you do not want the Masa to be overly wet… Just wet enough to form a dough that will stick together when kneaded.
It took a little time, but it was not hard… Now we have Masa ready to be used for making delicious Tortillas and Tamales… And I made both, recipes to follow soon.
- 2 Pounds Whole Dry Corn
- 2 tbsp. Calcium Hydroxide ( Cal, Lime, Slacked Lime )
- 1 Gallon of Water
- Sort, and Wash 2-lbs of Whole Dry Corn.
- Add Corn to a Large Pot, and 1 Gallon of Water.
- Bring Pot to a boil, add 2 tbsp. Calcium Hydroxide.
- Lower temp till Pot is just simmering, Let simmer till outer skin on corn wipes off easily.
- Remove Pot from the heat and let it soak overnight.
- The next day Rinse and Wash Corn, rubbing kernels to help remove all the outer skin from the corn. Keep Rinsing and Rubbing till water runs clear.
- When Corn is well-rinsed drain off all water, corn is ready to be ground into Masa.
- With a grinder, grind corn first on large setting, then on the low setting. I have two plates with my Kitchen Aid, at least, two passes are needed to grind the corn.
- You can also use a food processor if you don’t have a food grinder.
- When the corn has been ground, add a small amount of water and try to Knead, to form a ball of dough, do not all to much water a few tablespoons at a time till it can be kneaded and is still somewhat dry.
- When it can be formed into a ball it is ready to be made into tortillas or tamales.
- Refrigerate or Freeze any that you do not use right away… Enjoy!
Let Me Know What You Think
If you try making your own Masa please let me know what you think, come back and leave me a comment or question…