I love Mexican food and I love to learn to make things myself. My first adventure with homemade corn tortillas involved a bag of Masa Harina from the grocery store. It was genetically modified corn, that was boiled in lime water for 30-60 minutes, then dried into a “quickie” tortilla flour. I made a batch of 12 flour tortillas in about 15 minutes, which was nice. But the flavor was so bland that I ended up not making them again for many years. When I started researching traditional cooking methods, I was happy to discover a different corn tortilla method. It involves soaking the corn in lime water for up to 2 weeks!
Why soak the corn?
Soaking corn in an alkaline solution has quit a few benefits.
1. Makes corn easier to grind
2. Increases flavor (I can attest to that for sure!)
3. Increases nutrition: The soaking process balances the amino acids in the grain, making them more available to your body. It also un-binds the Niacin in the grain, so that you can absorb this important mineral. Soaking also increases the grains absorption of minerals from the cooking pot. So if you soak the grain in an iron, copper or zinc dish the grain will absorb minerals from this dish. Soaking increases calcium absorption by up to 85%.
4. Reduces Mycotoxins and other carcinogens: There are several strains of mold (Fusarium Verticillioides and Fusarium Proliferatum) that very commonly infect corn. These molds are known carcinogens and are rampant in many kinds of grain. The alkaline lime water kills this mold.
The masa harina tortillas that I made previously and this soaked recipe don’t even compare to each other in flavor. This is completely worth your extra time and effort. Just remember to plan ahead. I make a large 2 pound batch of dough, wrap the extra balls of dough in the freezer. Fresh tortillas on demand! The tortillas themselves also freeze well, if you’d rather just cook them all at once.
Traditional Corn Tortillas
(makes 48 tortillas)
2 pounds of organic dry corn kernels
2 Tbsp pickling lime
- Place corn in large stock pot. Cover with filtered water. Add 2 Tbsp pickling lime, and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Cover pot with a lid and let soak for a minimum of 48 hours. Traditional recipes call for a 7-10 day soaking, which I would recommend.
- Drain the corn in a colander and rinse. Place 2 cups of corn in your food processor. Process into a fine mush, adding water one Tablespoon at a time until the mixture is a thick, paste-like dough. (if you like salt, add it now.) Not too wet! If the dough won’t form into a ball and stay there, it is too dry. If it sticks to your hands and the counter it is too wet.
- Process all of the corn in a similar fashion, until you have a large amount of masa. Freeze some if you like.
- Form a whole bunch of little balls 2″ in diameter. The size of the tortillas is up to you. I sometimes make large 4″ balls of dough, if I’m planning to make Enchiladas the next day, because they are so much easier to roll up when they are slightly bigger.
- Heat a heavy skillet to medium-high heat. No oil or grease needed.
- Using a tortilla press or a rolling-pin, form the tortillas. I personally am too cheap to buy a tortilla press, I lay out a piece of wax paper, put the dough on it, put another piece of wax paper over that. Then I roll with a rolling-pin into a circle. But that’s just my cheap-girl method 🙂
- Throw in the pan and heat one minute each side. They will brown slightly and smell delicious!
You’re done! That seemed like an awful lot of words to explain a recipe that contains 2 ingredients 🙂
Now you can make any one of your favorite Mexican recipes. I love to cook these, because I get the first one hot off the pan, with lots of butter. And talk about frugal, even the highest quality organic corn is only $8.00 for a large 10 lb bag. 2 pounds makes 48 tortillas (.03 cents per tortilla)
I read an article just today about a woman who kept a pot of corn soaking in lime water on her kitchen counter at all times. She would just scoop out the amount of corn she needed to make tortillas for that nights dinner, and continue feeding the pot. Interesting idea!