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Old 01-24-2004, 12:14 PM   #1
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Corn for tortillas

:?: Hi All - This is my weekend for gathering tips. Corn tortillas, eg. I know masa harina is used in the preparation, a cornmeal which has previously been treated. This is not available here. Would one be able to use ordinary cornmeal? Probably not. But what if I boil it first? I'd really love to make it, even though I love flour tortillas too.
Any suggestions?

Enjoy your weekend



From sunny South Africa
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Old 01-26-2004, 11:58 PM   #2
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Corn Tortillas


I wanted to respond to you question regarding corn tortillas.
The corn meal you mentioned would not produce the same
tortillas that you would find in Mexico or readily availabe here
in, especially the southwest, of the United States.

The big white dry corn kernel are generally used to make "masa", but first must first undergo a slight chemical treatment before it becomes "nixtamal".
"Nixtamal" (the precursor to masa) is made by first adding water to a pot, then the big white corn kernels. Next you must add what the Mexicans call "Cal". This is a mineral called Calcium Hydroxide (also called "lime" not the fruit!). The water, corn and "Cal' are heated and boiled for a period of time.
The heat removed and the mixture is allowed to soak for various lengths
of time. the soaked corn is allowed to cool and the skins are removed from
the kernels with the little pointed end as well.

This "Nixtamal" is then ready to be ground into "masa".
The amount of moisture varies, but your lokking for something
that can be patted or pressed into a thin flat cake, baked on
a "comal" (comals are another complete topic) or cast iron frying pan.

At this point it is ready to be made into "tortillas", and/or
many of the shapes, such as, "gorditas", "sopes", "huaraches",
"chalupas", 'empanadas", and the regional names go on and on.

I'm not sure if you can buy this type of corn there in South Africa?

If you can purchase some "Masa Harina", you can make your tortillas
as this mixture has already gone through the "Nixtamalization" process then dried and ground.

I hope this helps, and good luck with your "tortilla" making.


Bill Gibson
Crestline, Ca
"aficionado de la cocina mexicana"

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Old 01-27-2004, 11:32 AM   #3
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Thanx Cocinero - I suppose I'll just have to stick to flour tortillas and wait until masa harina becomes available here. But what a process to produce this!! hanx for the scientific explanation. By the way, I have used masa hariona, in America when we lived there for four years, and for this I used my tortilla press which will also hang around until I finf the right product - perhaps when someone here visits the USA again.
Good cooking!
From sunny South Africa
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Old 01-31-2004, 08:27 AM   #4
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Maws, Have you tried buying the Masa online. I know of a few sites that carry it. www.bobsredmill.com and www.ethnicgrocer.com I know that there's another site out there that carries it but couldnt remember the name. I buy the instant Masa Harina at our Meijers grocery store. The instant is quick and easy for tortillaa. Good Luck :D
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Old 02-01-2004, 11:39 AM   #5
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Thanx for the advice - I'll definitely look into it.
From sunny South Africa
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