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I am new to the process of making tortillas from corn, I understand that the nixtamalization process and using heirloom corn are important to make traditional tortillas. I do not want to use pre-nixtamalized and ground corn, and am attempting to do it from scratch. Living in Canada makes this process difficult as most companies will ship within the US but not to Canada. I have found a local producer of Native corn that would be appropriate for this product, but the corn is fresh. So, can fresh corn be nixtamalized for tortillas, or must it be dried and then processed accordingly?

  • What kind of fresh corn? The corn for masa is a starchy, non-sweet variety that is seldom sold fresh. Substituting sweet yellow corn isn't going to work. – FuzzyChef Aug 2 '18 at 18:45
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Too long for comment so: I should think fresh would work. It's just dried that comes prehydrated. I'd cut down on boiling time. Say 5 cup corn, 1.5 gallon water, 1/4 cup CaOH (Cal, slaked lime, pickling lime). Boil gently 30 min (instead of hour). Let sit overnight. Rinse 4-5 times to remove excess CaOH, put thru your corn grinder to make massa. add a tablespoon or two of salt, about 2 cups water to get texture right, mix well. Should make about 2400 g masa -> enough for 40 tortillas. If unlucky, your prehydrated corn will turn to useless mush, but I don't think that's what happens. Don't rinse the nixtamalized stuff too many times. That removes CaOH, but also the corn coating that holds the tortilla together while cooking. CaOH is bitter. Crumbly tortillas are no fun.

I made my press out of maple wood, with sheets of flexible storm window plastic to keep massa from sticking. No need for that expensive metal contraption to make 5" tortillas Cooking goes smoothest if you have two 2 tortilla size griddles. That way you can cook 4 at a time. The timing works out to keep you busy, not waiting. If you have vertigo though it will make you dizzy.

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    My metal tortilla press cost me $9USD. Just sayin' ... – FuzzyChef Aug 2 '18 at 18:59
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    @FuzzyChef You can pay $25 plus for them round here. I had the maple and a spare hinge. – Wayfaring Stranger Aug 2 '18 at 19:48
  • Huh. No Mexican supermarkets anywhere near you, then. – FuzzyChef Aug 2 '18 at 20:23
  • It burnt down. The new one isn't open yet, except as a mini-mart. – Wayfaring Stranger Aug 2 '18 at 21:07
  • What with the beauty of Amazon (despite it's obvious downsides - I live in the country and access to many things is limited) all things tortilla are but a few days wait. I have bought masa harina flour for current experiment and are awaiting a big bag of dried corn to do the traditional method. Fresh corn was definitely a reach! Thank you so much for your advice! – soup4life Aug 6 '18 at 23:54
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Since you posted this, I've dug into a couple of my cookbooks that have instructions on corn nixtamalization, such as Hot Bread Kitchen, and looked at multiple Internet resources (see below). Every single one of them, without exception, starts with dried corn kernels, and I can't find any discussion of using fresh corn kernels anywhere.

I'm not sure you can make it work with fresh corn. In the corn nixtamalization process, you take the dried corn, and rehydrate it with boiling water and calcium hydroxide. If you treated fresh corn this way, the calcium hydroxide might not penetrate the corn kernels because they are already hydrated. You could, of course, try it and see.

However, don't despair! There's an easy solution: dry your own corn. There's online instructions on how to dry both ripe corn and older corn. The older corn process is what's used traditionally, but that means probably waiting until the end of the corn season to start your trial.

All of the above is based on research, I have not done it myself. I'm lazy and buy masa harina from a Mexican market.

nixtamalization recipes:

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    Thank you! Yeah, I was wondering because at the latin store in Montreal you can find frozen corn kernels (the right kind for tacos) and it appears they use them in another way. There is a farmer near me who is growing corn now, and he hang drys it and turns it into flour before selling so I will get ahold of the dried corn before he flours it. Thank you so much for all the extra info! – soup4life Aug 6 '18 at 23:52

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