Not all cornmeal is the same! - How to make the perfect corn tortillas.

Not all cornmeal is the same! - How to make the perfect corn tortillas.

If you get bored with the classic supermarket tortillas or want to try your hand in the kitchen, you've probably thought about making them yourself. Why not? There is no shortage of recipes on the Internet. Here you can find the perfect instructions for traditional Mexican tortillas. Unfortunately, it happens more often that despite following the recipe exactly, the tortillas do not taste as good as they should.

But what is the reason for this? In most cases, the culprit is quickly found. Because when it comes to traditional Mexican tortillas, the corn flour as a basis must not be missing. And here many make a mistake! Because corn flour is not equal to corn flour.

What are the types of cornmeal?

Someone who has not dealt with the subject of tortillas or cornmeal is now certainly puzzled. "What do you mean cornmeal is not the same as cornmeal?" Well, it means that you have to distinguish between the different types of cornmeal. In total, there are 6 different types of cornmeal. Here there is the pre-cooked corn flour, which is popular especially in Venezuela and Colombia, the classic corn flour, which is very common here in Germany, the corn semolina, the nixtamalized corn flour, the corn starch and the corn flour from roasted corn.

What is the difference between the types of cornmeal?

So there are different types of cornmeal. Is there a difference between them and if so, why? First of all, we can say that there are clear differences between the different types. This goes from the color of the flour to the properties that the corn flour brings with it. The reason for these differences lies in the production or extraction of the corn flour.

In the production of precooked corn flour, as the name suggests, the corn is first cooked and then dried and finely ground. In the classic corn flour, which can be found in any German supermarket, the cooking is skipped and the corn is dried directly and then ground. In the case of corn grits, the dried corn is only coarsely ground. Here it is technically not flour, but for the sake of completeness, we wanted to mention the corn grits.

In nixtamalized corn flour, the dried corn kernels are first nixtamalized. But what does that mean? The kernels are placed in water and wood ash or slaked lime is added. This results in a chemical reaction and the niacytin contained in the corn is converted to nicotinic acid. This processing changes the properties of the flour, such as the adhesive properties. In order to obtain corn starch, the starch is extracted directly from the corn kernels. In the case of corn flour made from roasted corn, roasted corn is used rather than the usual popcorn corn. This type of cornmeal is often mixed with sugar and is therefore ideal for confectionery.

What type of cornmeal is best for traditional Mexican tortillas?

But enough with the theory. Let's get to the important questions. What kind of cornmeal should you use now that will make the traditional Mexican dough tortilla? The answer is the nixtamalized corn flour. In other words, not the classic corn flour that you find in German baking departments. Its special production and the resulting change in the flour's adhesive properties make it perfect for preparing tortillas. However, whether corn flour is nixtamalized or not is not so easy to find out in many cases, as this is rarely marked. Therefore, we recommend the corn flour from Maseca. With probably the most popular corn flour in Mexico, the homemade corn tortillas should certainly succeed in the next attempt.

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