This project looks deceptively simple, but it is one that I had to try a couple times to get right. I only stuck with it because Nixtamalization is a vital process for people that use corn as a staple food.
This is because the nutrient niacin is unavailable in unprocessed corn, and by cooking dried corn with a strong alkali (nixtamaling it), Niacin becomes available.
Thereby preventing nutrient deficiency diseases like pellagra.
Besides preventing the typical symptoms of pellagra (diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia and death) this process is how Masa (corn tortillas), hominy, grits, and posole are made.
This makes the process an essential skill for any culture that is based on corn.
Nixtimalization is simply the process of cooking corn with alkaline, which dissolves the hull and improves the nutritional content of the corn.
- 2 cups Dried Corn
- 6 cups Water
- 2 Tablespoons Calcium Hydroxide
- Non-reactive pot (stainless steel, borosilicate glass (pyrex), or an unbroken enameled pot) – Do NOT use aluminum.
- Non-Reactive spoon (I use a wood or plastic spoon)
- Obtain your Calcium Hydroxide – you could make lye from wood ashes, but I buy mine at the local Hispanic grocery store. It is sold as “Cal” and is normally on a rack with dried peppers and spices.
- Mix the corn, water, and cal and put the pot on medim-low.
- Slowly bring the mix to a boil (this should take 30-45 minutes). When it boils, remove from heat and let the pot sit overnight.
- As the lime chemically alters the corn and the hulls undergo a visible change as well as loosen.
- The next day, pour off the cooking liquid and rinse the corn in multiple changes of water.
- In a bowl full of water, rub the corn in your hands to loosen the hull
- Fill the bowl of corn with water and pour off any pieces of hull that float to the top, then drain.
- The dehulled corn is now nixtamilized, it can be ground into Masa flour, or dried and broken up into grits.
Approximately 3.5 cups of Corn
Masa the corn is ground wet, using the retained water from the cooking as the liquid component. Add water as necessary until the dough begins to form.
Grits are made from dried nixtamilized corn, ground into small rice sized chunks