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Corn Tortillas

As seen in Locally Delicious (first edition) – our Humboldt-Grown cookbook!

This recipe comes from shareholder, friend, and SERIOUS locavore, Carol Moné.   Tortillas are one of those processed grain products we still sometimes buy – always a bit shamefully, I must admit.  When we tried this recipe we used a meat grinder, which, needless to say, did not grind the corn fine enough; we made some amazing hand-pressed corn patties though!  To have success with this recipe you will need a mill that can handle wet grains (a Corona flour mill does the job) and a tortilla press.  Both the cal and the press can be purchased cheaply at one of our local Mexican grocery stores.  We went to El Buén Gusto Market on Broadway in Eureka, near Don’s Rent-all.

Makes two dozen tortillas


2½ cups whole SCF dent corn

2½ teaspoons cal

1 cup water

**Cal, or calcium hydroxide, frees the niacin bound up in the corn kernels, making them more nutritious.  Food grade calcium hydroxide (hydrated lime) is used in Native American and Latin American cooking.  Corn cooked with cal becomes “nixtamal,” which has a significant increase in its nutritional value and is considered tastier and easier to digest.

The Tortillas:

  • Rinse corn.  Put in a large saucepan and cover with cold water to about 1½ inches above corn.  Heat slowly to simmer.  Do not boil.
  • Mix 1 cup water and cal together.  Pour through a cloth or strainer into the heating corn in the saucepan.  Stir well.
  • Simmer 20 minutes until the kernels turn bright yellow-orange.  The outer covering “skin” of the kernel should loosen (check by pulling a kernel out and cooling it).  Wrap the saucepan in a towel and let is sit overnight.
  • The following day, rinse the kernels, rubbing them between your hands to loosen the skins.  Drain well and grind in a Corona flour mill or equivalent.  The ground substance, called nixtamal, is rolled into golfball-sized portions, pressed in a tortilla press, and immediately grilled on a flat griddle or a comal.  The nixtamal can also be used for tamales.
  • If using a press, line all surfaces with wax paper or plastic to avoid sticking and do not over-moisten your mixture for best results.
  • You can also, alternately, add the whole kernels to soups, chilis, etc….
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