Monday, January 27, 2014

How to Make Blue Corn Masa

Blue Corn Masa20b
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’”.
Metatemexicoinmykitchen
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.
INGREDIENTS:
  • 2 pounds of Blue corn
  • 2 Tablespoons Cal (Calcium Hydroxide)*
  • Filtered water (enough to cover the corn)
NOTES:
  • * 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.
DIRECTIONS:
Blue Corn Masa 1c
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.
Blue Corn Masa 20d
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.
Blue Corn Masa1e
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.
Blue Corn Masa1f
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.
Blue Corn Masa1g
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.
Blue Corn Masa19a
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. 
¡Buen provecho!

Mely




39 comments :

  1. Hi Mely, my name is Lidia and I'm reading this from good old Southern California. This post is so cool cause my mom just got back from Michoacan Mexico and she brought with her some blue corn sweet tamales that were to die for. I'm going to dig out my metate that my parents gifted me 27 years ago when I got married so I can try your recipe. Thanks for posting this.

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    Replies
    1. I hope you make some good tamales, tortillas, sopes and everything masa can be used for. :) Take care and thanks for stopping by.

      Happy Cooking!

      Mely

      Delete
  2. Hi Mely, I am reading this post from Southern California and I absolutely loved it! Just this last week I had blue corn sweet tamales and they were delicious. You've inspired me to dig out my metate. Thanks!!!

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  3. Oh, that's lovely! Thank you, Mely!

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  4. love this traditional methods are cool

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  5. Hi Mely, i guess you know i'm in San Diego. But what might not know is that I love blue corn! I like to prepare nixtamal with blue corn and i use it in pozole. I Also like blue corn meal for pancakes. Although I like to make my own masa, I have never made it with blue corn. My grandmother who I never Met, had a tortilleria and I got a metate that is over 100 years old and came from her tortilleria. I should try to make your masa recipe. Nice post, thanksgiving for sharing!

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  6. Hola Mely

    te leo desde Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. No puedo hacer tortillas azules....es mas, me es imposible hacer tortillas en este pais. me encanta tu blog. no dejes de escribir en el, es una inspiracion para muchos de nosotros. felicidades

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hola Jacinto,

      Gracias por tomar el tiempo de comentar, se que es difícil encontrar los ingredientes para hacer la masa fuera de México. A mi me ha tomado años conseguir el maíz azul, y no sabes lo felíz que me puse cuando lo recibí. Puedes conseguir la masa azul por internet aunque no sabe igual, al menos es una buena opción. Ya que el sabor de una tortilla recien hecha de masa fresca no tiene comparación.

      Si en algo puedo ayudarte desde aquí por favor no dudes en contactarme.

      Saludos a la distancia.

      Mely

      Delete
  7. Hi Mely,
    I'm reading this post from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I absolutely love anything made with blue corn, especially tlacoyos. I have tried making my own masa several times, but I have never been able to achieve the soft, light texture that can only be done with the help of a stone. This post was so helpful, and I really liked that you showed what the masa looked like with and without the use of the metate. Hopefully, I will be able to get my hands on one someday :-) By the way, I think it is wonderful that you are teaching your son all of these great traditions.

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    Replies
    1. Hello ColebCheez,

      It's great that you are trying to make your own masa. It used to be hard to find a Metate Stone years ago. But now you can find them online and not as expensive as they used to be. The process of giving the masa the last grinding on the metate really makes a difference but just grinding 2 or 3 times on the metal grinder still does a good job.

      Saludos estamos aqui a lado. :)

      Delete
  8. I'm in Gainesville, FL. My son is in the 3rd grade and they are studying the book, "Esperanza Rising". He's been assigned a project to research and cook a Mexican dish. I came across your blog as we were looking for sources of traditional Mexican cuisine. It's just what we are looking for - great, clear directions and some history of the dish. I love that you are asking your readers where they are from. I don't think we'll be making masa, but it is really cool to see how it is done. Thank you for your beautiful blog.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jennifer,

      I hope you find a recipe in the blog that your son can make for his school project. Thank you for taking the time to write, I highly appreciate it.

      Happy Cooking!

      Mely

      Delete
  9. Your description of the process for making homemade masa is great! I'd like to find a source for blue corn, but am having trouble finding anything online. I live in Auburn, near Sacramento. Do you have any sources for purchasing online or in the Sacramento, CA area?
    Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Hello Roke,

      Check this link: http://astore.amazon.com/mexinmykit-20/detail/B009OYHBI2

      Delete
  10. I'm reading from Adelaide, South Australia! I found your blog via a google search. I have to admit, until recently Mexican food had never really appealed to me. My exposure to it out here has been a pretty bad mix of all the cliches, (tequila, beans & hard shell taco's). One of my favourite chef's currently has a Mexican themed cooking series on TV at the moment & FINALLY I'm getting to see the real bare bones of the cusine, all the good stuff, so finally I am inspired to try my hand at something I've never had before - Tamales!
    So I jumped online and started looking for a local store that might sell masa flour, lucky for me I found that and more, I can't wait!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello HVL,

      Wishing you the best in your cooking endeavors.

      Mely

      Delete
  11. Dear Mely,

    I am writing to you from Brisbane Australia. I need to thank you for your blog. I have a technical question for you.
    Is it possible to nixtamalize the corn after a period of sprouting it in water. So this would mean letting the corn kernels soak in water for say 24 hours and as they start to sprout add the Calcium Hydroxide to it. Would this enhance the nutritional profile of the corn? Is it advisable to let the Calcium Hydroxide soak into the kernels for another extended period? Or is it advisable to soak the kernels in the lye after the boiling process? I have read somewhere that it does enhance the nutritional qualities of the corn even more if the kernels are soaked in the lime for more than a week?
    I wish to thank You in advance for your reply.
    Kind regards,
    Marci [male]

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  12. Dear Mely,
    Thank You for your informative and educational blog.
    I have a technical question. My question relates to the nixtamalization of the corn. Firstly is it possible to nixtamalize corn that has first been sprouted for say a 24hour period in order to enhance the nutritional profile of the kernels? Secondly is it advisable to soak the kernels in the Calcium Hydroxide after or before the boiling process for an extended period of time? I have read somewhere that it enhances the nutrients in the kernels if the corn is soaked in the Calcium Hydroxide for more than a week. Is this true?
    I would like to thank You in advance for your reply.
    Kind regards,
    Martin

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  13. PS I am writing to you from Brisbane, Australia.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Saint-Martain,

      If the corn is sprouted the effect could change when adding the Calcium Hydroxide since this last one is used to soften the kernels. If you soak the kernels for a longer period they will start to become sour. This step also ferments the corn.

      I am not familiar with the sprouting step prior to boiling with the Calcium Hydroxide, I will have to do some research about it.

      Regards,

      Mely

      Delete
  14. Gracias por compartir. Saludos de Little Rock, AR; pero de TAmpico.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Estoy en Georgia, pero vivi 5 anos en el estado de Veracruz, Mexico. Alla me ensenaron hacer tortillas, gorditas, y otroas cosas con masa. Si no las haciamos en casa, todos los dias comprabamos tortillas frescas hecha en la esquina. Aqui en los EEUU, nada mas se puede encontrar tortillas hachas con maseca, ya extranamos las tortillas reales :)

    Gracias por la receta!
    Dios le bendiga.

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  16. I'm writing from Porter, Texas and I've been looking for a site with authentic Mexican food recipes thank you for taking the time to do this

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  17. Hello & thanks for this valuable info. I want to go back in time - literally! Life supposed to be easy but with what cost?? My son had developed gluten intolerance so I'm doing lot of homemade stuff. This year I will grow lots of Corn myself including the purple once. I make my own flour at home. I will try the dried version too. Thank you again.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello kcperera,
      You are right, so many things had changed as well as our health with the modern conveniences (fast and processed foods)
      I hope you enjoy the journey or making your own masa.

      Regards,

      Delete
  18. Hi,

    I'm Kat. I grew up in Colorado eating hand made mexican food from family friends' kitchens and then moved to Canada, where it's really hard to find good mexican food. So now I make my own! I'm excited to try making masa by hand!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Kat,

      I hope you enjoy the experience, the end results taste even better after you make it yourself.

      Happy cooking!

      Delete
  19. Hi Mely,
    I am a 64 year old grandmother in northern California with health issues. I read that corn prepared the traditional way with lime produces readily available niacin in the masa. I would like to cook a natural source of niacin like this, because I believe it would benefit my health and that of my grandchildren.
    But I lack a metate. I will try it with something around the house and if that doesn't work I will buy one.
    Thank you for your detailed instructions, photos, and your suggestions on finding the Cal and corn for the masa.
    Cindy

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hola! I'm in Hamamatsu, Japan where good tortillas, masa is hard to come by. We just harvested some beautiful blue corn and was searching for what to do with it. Just made my first masa thanks to your website. Looking forward to tortillas tonight! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Jan,

      Enjoy your tortillas. I hope you ground the corn to an extra fine texture in order to have a good enough masa for tortillas.

      Happy cooking!

      Delete
  21. If you've taken the time to search for and read Mely's fresh masa recipe you owe it to yourself to make your own, right now. Don't let anything you've read or videos you've seen scare you. This is easy and the results are incredible.
    Thank you Mely, i'd put off making my own masa for years. Your post came up in a search and two days later I've made my best tortillas ever! (I used both your recipes since I came home with blue corn)

    ReplyDelete
  22. Jeani, from northeast Texas. I'm reading this because we will be growing heirloom corn on our farm this year. I know I'll be making cornmeal but also wanted to research making masa for tortillas.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Hi There,
    Thank you for sharing this recipe. My family runs a boutique farm outside San Diego where we primarily raise dairy sheep. This year we got ahold of some blue corn seeds, and had a wonderful harvest. My kids are in a Spanish immersion program, and we try to incorporate Mexican traditions into our household. This is a perfect use for our blue corn!
    Can we skip the sodium hydroxide?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello,

      Sorry, but no. You need to add the sodium hydroxide to be able to make nixtamal. If you don't cook the corn with it, the dough won't bind.

      Delete
    2. We just made our first batch ( with sodium hydroxide). It turned out lovely. I didn't have a grain grinder, so I used my vita-mix blender to grind the soaked corn. It turned out perfectly! It works best with small batches of corn.

      Delete
    3. Hello Jonna,
      Thanks a lot for taking the time to come back and leave a comment. I'm sure many other readers will also be thankful to know they can use their vitamix for this purpose. I own a Vitamix, and maybe next time I make nixtamal, give it a try with the corn grinding.

      Again thank you and happy cooking!

      Delete
  24. Hi Mely,
    I'm writing from Groningen, Netherlands! I just got some dried blue corn meal and am thinking about making blue tamales. I loved the post and the photos.
    Anne

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Anne,

      Is that blue corn meal or masa harina?

      Delete

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