Saturday, November 21, 2009

And now... the important stuff

Saturday night, November 21, 2009. Leah’s gone for a week. I’m home alone. We’ve had rain and there’s not much that can be done outside as wet as things are. I put pinto beans on to boil after sorting through them to remove deformed and damaged beans, rocks and debris. The beans were grown in our spring garden.

I shelled ten ears of white corn, also grown in our spring garden and added it to a large stainless steel pot containing 4 quarts of water and 5 tablespoons of lime. I skimmed off the kernals and debris that floated to the top with a slotted spoon and I’m waiting for the water to return to a boil. I’ll cut off the flame when the water boils and allow the corn to soak overnight. This process is known as nixtamalization and has been practiced for centuries on the North American continent, certainly long before any white man stepped foot here. Nixtamalization does more than soften the grain; it changes the flavor of the final product and also makes the grain more nutritious. Eaten with a legume, you get the whole array of necessary amino acids (you don’t if your corn is dry ground without being cooked and soaked in lime water).

Tomorrow, I hope to thorougly rinse the corn and grind it in a hand-cranked mill. I then will add a little water to the wet-ground corn and use the masa to make tortillas. This is only the second time I have done the whole process from start to finish.

The value of the tortillas I’ll end up with is hardly worth the effort, measured in dollars and cents. The value of knowing how to do this may be priceless someday.

Perhaps sooner than you think.

Perhaps it's just my imagination, but I think the tortillas taste better, done this way.


  1. Trying again Don..., would like to let you know how much I am enjoying, "Ruminations From the Garden." Will be sorry when I finish it..., am glad that I will be able to continue reading here.

    And hope that I can figure out how to comment once in a while.

    Right on Don..., write on.

  2. Well..., looks like I figured it out. I might not have had to sign up with Google though. It might have been as simple as typing in the "goofy" looking word that came up with the error messages I getting previously. I will never know now. Since Google is the search engine I use all the time anyway..., and it wasn't much of a hassle to "create an account"..., I guess it all worked out. But in the interest of full disclosure I must admit..., that I miss-read or miss-typed the "goofy" word the first time !!!!

  3. Scott,

    Glad you're reading the book and glad you're here.

    It may get hairy soon. We'll need all the help we can get.


  4. The value of those tortillas is NOT measured in $$$. You can't buy a better tortilla unless abuelita next door sells hers. Ain't nothing like total made-from-scratch tortillas de maiz.