And what did you do with the pandemic lockdown of 2020 (southwestern USA edition)?
Corn nixtamalization has been one of my kitchen(and backyard) alchemy projects of the past few weeks.
Nixtamalization, besides being where the word tamale comes from and a beautiful Nahuatl word in its own right, is the process of preparing corn in an alkaline - ash or lye - bath in order to break down the husk, make nutrients more available and allow for a dough generally called masa where I currently live.
Incidentally, nixtamalization also removes aflatoxins (poisons associated with mold on stored grains).
So I grew my corn. A field of Painted Mountain corn flourished at the foot of Turtleback Mountain.
Harvested and dried my corn. It was, indeed, rainbow coloured.
Watched too many hours of YouTube videos, read way too many blogs to learn how to do it.
Collected hardwood in the Ponderosa Pine forests of the nearby Black Range, also known as Devil’s Mountains/Sierra Diablo.
Shucked some corn.
Soaked the shucked corn 24 hours in tap water.
Boiled the now swollen and slightly soft corn with ash, about an hour.
Let it sit in the ash bath overnight.
Washed the nixtamal (aka hominy) again (and again). Then washed it again. The outer skins have dissolved. The kernels are bouncy and nutty - good chewy eating just like this. There’s a pleasant hint of woodsmoke flavor.
Ground the nixtamalized corn into masa in a food processor, because I do not have a grain mill. This gave me a slightly grainy masa.
Ta da! Corn and black bean cakes fresh from the oven this afternoon.
Flavored with garlic, spicy chile and herbs from the garden. I shall eat them with a tomato dipping sauce made as a result of The Great Tomato Pruning (see late July post)
I have reserved 2 cups of the nixtamal for vegan posole. Watch this space.