Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Masa harina tortillas from scratch

masa harina tortillas from scratch msmarmitelover.com

masa harina tortillas from scratch msmarmitelover.com

This is a hard core geeky recipe for Mexican food obsessives. I've heard that fresh 'masa' the ground corn used for corn tortillas is much tastier so I had a go at making them myself. 

500g Field corn (hominy) Either order at huge expense from the states as I did or try this: http://www.tropicalsunfoods.com/product/96/white-hominy-corn.html
5g Pickling lime (slaked lime/calcium hydroxide/white lime/lime paste) It's got nothing to do with lime the fruit.
1.5 litres water

Put everything into a big pot and bring to the boil. Then keep at a low boil for 45 minutes to an hour. You should see the following things:

  • The pericarp of the corn should slip off nicely.
  • The corn should be sticky.
  • The kernel should be softish but firm.

If not all of these things are happening then continue to cook. Do not overcook. I did the first time and the corn over-absorbed the lime and was inedible. It shouldn't look like mush.
Then, the above conditions achieved, take off the heat. Leave to steep for 12 hours. Then rinse three times, rubbing the corn hard to get rid of the pericarp and the lime. I mean this. Really rinse it. You don't want it to taste a bit chemical.
Then, unless you have a wet grinder or a special masa grinding stone from Mexico, grind a quarter of the corn in the food processor. Grind until it is as fine as possible, like flour. The finer the grind, the softer the tortilla. Do the other 3/4 bit by bit. Add salt to taste, quite a lot is needed. I didn't get it as fine as if I had a proper machine but it was pretty good. Postscript: I now have a Vitamix which works brilliantly.
masa harina tortillas from scratch msmarmitelover.com
Make a golf ball size ball and flatten in your tortilla press. (First of all cut open a sandwich bag on put each half on each half of the slightly oiled surfaces of the press. This stops it sticking to the press). Cheap versions of the press are available in certain Indian shops as chapatti presses.
masa harina tortillas from scratch msmarmitelover.com
Dry griddle the tortilla, until both sides have slightly bubbled and toasted. Don't let the tortilla get too dry, it should be flexible.
masa harina tortillas from scratch msmarmitelover.com

masa harina tortillas from scratch msmarmitelover.com
 I served with a tomatillo salsa, sour cream, some cheddar and roast tomatoes. Fish is good too as is beans.
For more information about this go to these sites:
Cooking Issues: http://www.cookingissues.com/2011/03/09/mesoamerican-miracle-megapost-tortillas-and-nixtamalization/
Anson Mills: http://www.ansonmills.com/recipes-hominy.htm
masa harina tortillas from scratch msmarmitelover.com


  1. Wow I didn't think it could be done.
    I am impressed

  2. Thank you Tansy. Apparently people on Twitter, who claim to be interested in food, are not as impressed, going on about how it's so much easier to buy the flour or even, just go and buy corn tortillas ready made! Undoubtedly.
    Hell, why make anything? Just go to MaccieD's for lunch.

  3. these look fabulous - is it just me, or do they have a far yummier look than any tortillas you would ever buy?
    i just wish the ingrediants where more readily availiable - does pickling need to be ordered also or is this in the supermarket? (forgive me if this is a stupid question)


  4. I ordered the lime from Anson Mills which I wouldn't recommend as while the pickling lime wasn't expensive, the shipping and the duty was!
    You can get it in Asian food stores I believe.
    Normally the grind would be finer, but they were certainly very authentic tasting.

  5. They look great. I tried to make with fine indian cornmeal from corner shop, doesn't work. In bin.

    Then got masa harina from Borough Market mexican stall but the disaster put me off and it is sitting accusingly behind the trick or treat bucket. Maybe time to have another go.

    But no press. Do you think rolling pin or squash with iron pan?

  6. yeah cornmeal isn't at all the same thing.
    My press cost me a fiver. it can also be used for rotis, pitta breads so is useful.
    Or use a rolling pin. I found a slim chapatti rolling pin gets the thinnest dough.

  7. Except for socially- you're my role model.

  8. Lol Miss Brodie: what film was that from?

  9. good post i hate the pre-packed tortillas!

  10. Good lord that looks gooooood! xxx

  11. This is seriously the coolest thing ever! I've been on a major mexican kick lately so making my own tortillas would be perfect!

  12. Bet they taste amazing K I've only got as far as making my own from masa harina & love the whole squishing in the press process...do you have a copy of Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen? Amazing book...Mexican food is so much more than el paso whatnot muck in a packet...mmmm runner beans in brick red mole.

  13. A slightly different topic than the masa harina - buy or make...

    Where did you find the tomatillos?

    1. Tomatillos are bloody impossible to get. So I grow them. Although Riverford Organics has them sometimes like now in August.

  14. This looks wicked summer snack food

  15. Just remembered Miss Brodie's quote is from Broadcast News.
    Must get the Rick Bayless book.


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