Warning: I’m about to geek out. We’ve been watching “Ugly Delicious,” and, earlier this week, learned about nixtamalized corn. Traditionally, this meant soaking corn in a “solution of limestone or wood ash, and water. This process freed up vitamin B3 and made it a more usable product.” (Read more here.)
Being the nerd I am, I immediately researched places in Denver that engaged in this process. I found only two. I headed to one of them yesterday and picked up tortillas, chips, and tamales. The taste of the chips, in particular, blew us away. The corn flavor really stood out in a way we weren’t used to. Long story short, it would seem that nixtamilization has both health and flavor benefits.
“By soaking the corn overnight, we can bring out more flavor, aromas, improve the nutritional profile, as well as reduce mycotoxins that can be present in ingredients such as corn, coffee, and peanuts.
This simple process first requires making a batch of lime water, then soaking corn kernels or cornmeal in the solution overnight. I use this method before making cornbread, polenta, or grits. Interestingly, corn is still a staple in many American’s diet, but in processed form like high fructose corn syrup and other hidden corn products that flood our supermarket shelves.” (Read more here.)
Want to make your own nixtamalized corn (to use on its own or to grind for tortillas or tamales)? Farm & Forage Kitchen has a simple recipe (that uses a Mason jar!).
How to Make Lime Water
Spring water, or the best option available to you
Pickling Lime (Get it here)
Place about a 1/2 cup of the pickling lime into a 1 quart Mason jar, which should be about a inch tall in the jar.
Top with water, screw on the lid, then shake. Let the jar stand on the counter for a few hours until the lime settles, leaving you with a mildly cloudy liquid.
You can now use the liquid and reserve any extra at room temperature for weeks to months as there is basically an unlimited shelf life.
Soaking the Corn
Hominy is made by soaking whole corn kernels. Combine 1 pound of kernels with 1 ½ quarts of prepared lime water. Bring the liquid to a boil and simmer for 12-15 minutes. Allow the mixture to stand at room temperature for up t0 8 hours or overnight in the fridge. Grind and add water to make fresh tortillas, or stir the kernels into soups or stews.
The corn should then be washed in a colander while being rubbed in between your hands to remove the hull and expose the kernel inside.
If soaking cornmeal, use 1 cup of the liquid for every 2 cups of cornmeal. Allow the mixture to stand at room temperature for 12 hours then proceed as needed for your desired recipe.