Sometimes we take things for granted and never stop to realize where things come from or what has to happen in order for something to get to our table. One of those things is corn masa. We started making corn masa here at home some years ago; it helped that I had grown up around the process of making masa when I visited my grandma’s house, so it wasn’t rocket science. Last week I was teaching my son how to properly use the metate, and he started asking me several questions about it, like when the Aztecs started using it, how corn was grinded before the metal corn grinder appeared, if metates are still used in Mexico, and if it ever breaks. This led to a very funny conversation.
The Aztecs used the metate to grind corn before the appearance of the metal corn grinder, and it is still used to this day in some areas. It isn’t only used to grind corn, though; people use it to grind peppers for moles and cacao for drinks, just to name a few uses. They used to be a popular wedding gift, and sometimes the bride’s name would be engraved on the metate. If well cared, a metate can last for generations, since it takes years of usage to actually wear them out. However, they can be broken if they are dropped or improperly handled. Oh, and about the funny part, well, this is what my son told me. “So, if the metate were part of a wedding gift registry today, it would say something like: ‘The New Metate Model: The RockMaster 3000, with a one-thousand year warranty, or your money back’”.
|I took this picture from the book "...y la comida se hizo, para celebrar". ISBN 968-24-1875-5. so you can see the engraving on the metate.|
Well, I found that funny, but let’s get back to the process of making the masa. Blue corn masa is consumed mainly in Central Mexico; it is common fare to see street food vendors making Quesadillas filled with Chuitlacoche and squash blossoms using blue corn tortillas. The color of the masa will change depending on the kernels, as some are purple, gray, green, or blue.
I had previously posted a recipe for making masa HERE:
THIS RECIPE WILL MAKE ABOUT 4 LBS. OF DOUGH/MASA.
- 2 pounds of Blue corn
- 2 Tablespoons Cal (Calcium Hydroxide)*
- Filtered water (enough to cover the corn)
- * Calcium Hydroxide, can be found at the grocery store in the canning section or in our Amazon Store, as well as the white and blue corn.
- Keep the soaking time in mind and cook the corn the previous evening.
1. First of all, make sure that the corn is clean of any debris or little rocks. Place corn in a colander under the water faucet and rinse. Shake a little to remove any excess water.
2. Place corn into a non-corrosive pot. Add enough water to cover the corn. Some kernels will float, those are old or spoil kernels, discharge them.
3. Dissolve 2 Tablespoons of Cal (Calcium Hydroxide) in 1/2 cup of water. Stir well.
4. Place the pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium high. When the water starts boiling, add the Cal and water mix. The corn will turn a bright yellow color.
5. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon. After 15 minutes, check the corn and rub a few grains between your fingers. If you see a fine skin peeling from them, then they’re ready. Turn down the heat and remove from stove. If after 15 minutes your corn skins are not peeling, keep cooking for 5 more minutes and check again.
6. Cover the pot with a lid and let it rest overnight or for at least 8 hours.
7. The next day, the corn and its residue will be settling at the bottom of the pot, and the skins will be easily removed when rubbing some kernels with your fingers.
8. Remove the liquid , reserving some of it to add to the grinding process.(also known as “nejayote”) and rinse the corn two or three times, rubbing off the loose skin, until the water looks clean. Place in a colander to drain well.
9. The corn is now ready for the grinder. Start grinding the corn in small batches twice or three times until it has a fine texture. The picture at the bottom right is how it will look after the first grinding. The corn grinder has to be tightly fitted to a stable surface to make this step as fast and smooth as possible. The corn grinder was meant to be screwed up to a working area where it will always reside.
10. After you’ve grinded the corn 2 times, add some of the cooking water little by little to form the dough-masa. Knead a little until your dough is smooth. This dough will still be grainy, but good enough to make tortillas or any other food you plan to cook with it. Sometimes, I grind the corn and don’t add water, then I place it in plastic bags to store in the freezer. When ready to use, just let it sit until room temperature and then add the water to form the dough. To extend the life of the masa add a pinch of cal while grinding the corn.
11 (OPTIONAL). I know it will be hard for many to get a hold of a Metate, so this step is just in case you have one and want to have a finer texture in your masa dough. Place a small amount of the dough on the top part of the metate with the help of the “mano” (hand of the metate). Press down on the dough from side to side (from the top part to the bottom part), passing a small amount of dough to the other side every time you press it down. This is done in a rhythmical movement, with your hands holding tightly onto the metate hand and pressing back and fort until all the dough that was at the top now is at the bottom part of the metate. The difference of giving the final grinding to the corn dough with the metate can be seen in the picture below.
I hope this information was helpful, and if you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email.
Now... I have some questions for you: Why do you want to make corn masa? and where are you reading this post from? If you are interested in buying any a Metate, please send me an email.