My first attempt at Nixtamalization! From dried corn kernel to muffins and tortillas.
I first learned about the importance of nixtamalizing in 2009 while working at a traditional kitchen in Berkeley called @threestonehearth. It seemed like an exotic process that conjured images of indigenous folks grinding corn on the #metate limestone. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that in Guatemala, it's just "what you do" to corn to make it edible. Even with the popularity of the prepared storebought #masa from Maseca (which is GMO by the way), natives know that corn needs to soak in this alkaline water before it's processed into masa for tortillas.
MesoAmericans for thousands of years have processed corn this way, which makes it more digestible and nutritious. Nixtamalization is the Nahuatl word for cooking/steaping dried corn in an alkaline solution - some cultures used lime (calcium hydroxide from limestone) others used potassium carbonate (charred marine shells). The Guatemalans call it "cal." Soaking the corn in this alkaline solution does many things - adds dietary calcium, improves the absorption of 6 amino acids, and dissolves poisonous mycotoxins created by fungi. MOST importantly, nixtamalization releases niacin (B3) and makes it bioavailable to the body - this is an essential vitamin that, if your main food source is corn, is VITAL to your health. In fact, deficiency in niacin causes a deadly disease called Pellagra, first documented in Spain in the mid-eighteenth century when they were living on a diet of un-nixtamalized corn. This spread to the Southern US, and after attacking corn as the cause, they finally realized it was because they weren't processing it using this ancient technique. Very ironic that Europeans brought corn back from the New World, but totally overlooked the most important traditional treatment - nixtamalization!
Fascinating stuff! I successfully did the nixtamalization, and processed the masa in my food processor (not ideal, but it worked), used half the masa for tortillas, dehydrated the rest & ground into a powder for the blue corn muffins! They are delicious!
Purchase organic native corn from @laboticaverde1 :)