Great tacos require great tortillas, and I can assure you, once you try these Homemade Corn Tortillas made from real corn masa you won’t go back to store-bought ever again!
The first step to make fresh masa will be preparing nixtamal (corn that’s gone through the nixtamilzation process), which is really easy! It’s a simple process that’s beneficial in a few ways. Since the outer skin of corn kernels slip off, it makes the corn easier to grind and the soaking process helps our bodies absorb all the nutrients in corn which are normally inaccessible (mainly niacin). What’s more, nixtamalization creates that rich and amazing flavor distinct in masa, and it allows you to create a dough from ground corn. When mixing corn flour (or cornmeal) with water, a dough won’t form, you’ll just have a soupy corn flour mixture. By mixing masa with water, you’ll have a formable dough that can be made into all kinds of delicious recipes, including tortillas!
Making your own masa requires dried yellow dent corn, pickling lime (also called “cal”, which you can find it in any hispanic market or online) and a grain mill that can grind wet grain, such as the Wonder Junior Deluxe grain mill with masa auger.
Start by rinsing the corn. Then, in a large non-reactive pot, mix together corn, water and pickling lime. Bring it to a boil, immediately turning down the heat and simmer for 45 minutes, making sure the corn is always covered with the liquid. Cover the pan and let it soak overnight. After soaking the corn kernels will look like this:
You’ll notice that the outer skin of the kernels slip off very easily. Drain and rinse the corn thoroughly under cool water and rub handfuls of the kernels between your palms allowing the outer layer to fall off. Don’t worry about getting every single one! Just make sure to keep rinsing until the water starts to run clear.
Then, place the strained corn in your grain mill and grind it all!
Once you’ve ground all the nixtamal, add salt and a little water until you can form the dough into a ball. Make tortillas by shaping the dough into small balls and pressing each of them flat. You will get the best results by using a tortilla press. Bake tortillas on a preheated griddle, cast iron or nonstick skillet, on each side for 1-2 minutes or until brown spots start to appear. Keep the tortillas warm by wrapping in a cloth or storing in a tortilla keeper.