Our Tortillas

About our Tortillas

The vast majority of corn tortillas you will find in markets in the United States are made using rehydrated corn flour, such as maseca.

This is definitely the easiest way to make them. However a handful of places in the United States make corn tortillas the traditional way, using an ancient process called nixtamalization. Scientists believe people living in central Mexico developed corn at least 7000 years ago from a grass. Nixtamalization was first developed in Mesoamerica, which is the central region of America, from central Mexico to Costa Rica to the mountains of Peru, but it was also practiced by Native Americans in North America, from the plains of Texas to the valleys of Vermont in New England.

In corn nixtamalization the corn kernel is soaked and cooked in a lime solution which removes removes the skin of the kernel and produces a softer dough than unprocessed ground corn. Corn can be nixtamalized to produce a variety of products including masa, hominy, and tortilla chips.

“[Nixtamalized corn] has a taste and aroma like no other food on Earth — a delicately nutty quality combined with something almost chalky and mineral-like.”

Zarela Martinez, author of the book The Food and Life of Oaxaca

Nixtamalization corn is more nutritious, has less mycotoxins, and has better flavor. The nixtamalization process also converts bound niacin (vitamin B3) in the corn to free niacin that the body can absorb.

The process is as follows:

  • Add an alkaline solution- such as food grade lime- to the corn kernels.
  • Cook the corn in the solution
  • Let the corn steep in the solution
  • Wash the corn

Once these steps are followed you have nixtamal, or masa. The nixtamal can then be ground to make masa. Masa can be used to make corn tortillas, tortillas chips, or tamales, or it can be dried. It can be left whole and boiled again to produce boiled corn used in posole.

We agree! See for yourself.

What the Experts Say...

“The only similarity between the “other tortillas” and tortillas made the traditional nixtamalized ways is that they are both round.”

– Rodolfo Gamez, Las Gemelas Tortilleria

“The purpose of a tortilla is to enhance the flavor of the food, not merely to hold it together”

– Fernando Ruiz, Tortilleria Nixtamal

“The industrialized corn tortilla tastes like rounds of grilled cardboard”. 

– Alma Guilermoprieto, Journalist

“As who makes the tortillas and how they were made changed, so did the taste of the earthy intense corn flavor of fresh ground corn steeped in mineral lime. “It’s like the difference of making instant mashed potatoes (just add water to a cup of dried flakes) and making mashed potatoes from real potatoes the comparison in taste and quality – well, there really is no comparison.”

–  Fernando Ruiz, Tortilleria Nixtamal