|Abenaki Calais flour corn|
Nixtamalization involved boiling dried corn kernals with wood ash and leaving them overnight. Then they would wash out the ash and grind the corn into a wet flour. The boiling and soaking with ash caused the corn to break down somewhat, making it easier to grind. It also gave the corn a distinct flavor that was the result of the combination of the corn and the lye in the ash. If you've ever tasted the difference between corn in cornmeal or cornbread and that in tortilla chips or tamales, you probably know the flavor I'm talking about. Above is some of the corn I grew this season. I ended up with about a gallon of grain from a small bed of corn, and I plan to nixtamalize it and use it to make tortillas and tamales. I am just waiting on getting the right kind of flour mill for the wet corn kernals. I could dehydrate the corn after nixtamalizing it and then grind it into dry flour, but I've heard it is much better to make food from the freshly prepared kernals. In Nicaragua, the women get up at the crack of dawn every day to make tortillas. I remember watching the family that took care of the farm I worked at nixtamalizing corn over an open fire. Maybe someday I'll have enough corn to do this on a regular basis.