Our Daily Bread is Maize-based Food

Our Daily Bread is Maize-based by Rudy Giron

Very often I see women on their way to the maize mill to turn nixtamalized maized into masa dough to make tortillas. As I have mentioned before, in Guatemala freshly baked/cooked tortillas are sold three times a day (los tres tiempos). Yet, there are many people who still like to prepared their own tortillas at home either because they can same some money or because they like their tortillas cooked in certain way or size. Either way, that’s the reason you still see women carrying loads of maiz nixtamalizado.

I came across this study which research how to prepare tortillas using the traditional process of the rural Kaqchikel-speaking Mayan communities. It’s interesting how traditional process which I see often here are put under the scientific microscope:

Nixtamalized maize products provide the majority of the daily energy for a large proportion of the population in the Central Highlands of Guatemala. A recent survey conducted in the Central Highlands (unpublished data) found that 100% of the population surveyed consumed maize as tortillas and that the mean daily consumption was 14 tortillas.

Maize was mixed and divided into three equal lots. Approximately 400 g from each lot was placed in steel pots, and samples were removed and stored frozen for analysis by HPLC for FB1 and HFB1 and by LC-MS for FB2, FB3 and HFB2 and HFB3. Coarsely ground lime (CaO, 82 g) was added to 1 L of water; 0.2 L of this stock lime solution was added to each pot followed by an additional 1.1 L of water. The lime water/maize preparation was boiled for ∼1.75 h; as water evaporated, fresh water was added. The mixture was allowed to cool and steep for 15 h. The steep water was collected and the alkali-treated cooked maize (nixtamal) was rinsed three times with 1.1 L of water. The nixtamal was ground into masa. The volume of the steep water and the rinse water and the wet weight of the nixtamal and masa dough were recorded for each lot. Samples were removed and stored frozen for HPLC analysis. Tortillas were shaped by hand. The mean weight of an uncooked and cooked tortilla was 42 and 16 g, respectively. The tortillas were cooked on a comal (a dish made with clay) over a wood fire. Cooking temperatures varied from 170°C on the outer edge to 212°C at the center of the plate (4). Tortillas were typically 0.5–1 cm thick and ∼10 cm in diameter. The time of cooking tortillas was ∼3.5 min. A total of 10 tortillas were prepared from each lot. After drying at 38°C, the tortillas were weighed and stored frozen for later HPLC analysis of FB1 and HFB1 and for LC-MS analysis for FB2, FB3 and HFB2 and HFB3

source: The Journal of Nutrition

© 2012, Rudy Giron. All rights reserved.

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  • NYChapin

    Que le dijo la tortillera al filosofo?……….. No hay masa ya.

    • Chistes de la U, ¿vaa?