To begin, what exactly is masa harina? It refers to fresh maize masa that has been dried to flour and is known as “dough flour” in Spanish. Masa harina is ideal for preparing homemade tortillas, tamales, and other masa-based dishes because all you have to do is add water and you’re done.
To be clear, masa is not corn flour, and cornmeal or corn flour cannot be substituted for it. Masa harina has been nixtamalized, which we’ll discuss later.
What is Nixtamalization?
Nixtamalization (nix-tuh-mal-uh-zay-shun) is an old method of treating field corn kernels with lime water to improve their flavor and make them easier to digest. This process is used to make masa dough, masa harina flour, and hominy, a corn-based food. Nixtamal corn kernels are corn kernels that have been nixtamalized (nix-tuh-mal).
How to Make Masa Dough?
You’re one step closer to preparing masa dough for delicious, authentic corn tortillas once you’ve created nixtamal corn. To grind the nixtamal, you’ll need a powerful food processor that can operate continuously for many minutes. Take the following steps:
- 2 cups nixtamal corn
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup water
- In a food processor, combine nixtamal and water.
- Mix in the water and salt.
- Process the corn, pausing as needed to wipe down the sides.
- If the mixture becomes too dry, add a teaspoon of water at a time until it is no longer dry.
- 5-10 minutes in a food processor, until the corn is coarsely ground (stop here if making masa harina)
- From the ground corn, a dough should start to form.
- Knead the dough for a few minutes until smooth, then roll it into a ball.
- The moist dough can be used right away, frozen for up to 3 months, or dried to make masa harina.
How to Make Masa Harina
Follow the same methods as before, but stop before kneading the dough to manufacture your own masa harina flour to have on hand. Instead, you’ll need to use a dehydrator to dry the maize once it’s finely ground. Take the following steps:
- Place ground corn on a dehydrator pan and spread it out evenly.
- To protect the mixture from falling through the pan, use a dehydrator sheet.
- Preheat the oven to 100 degrees Fahrenheit and dry for 6 hours.
- One last time, blend or process the dried masa in a high-powered blender or food processor.
- Working in batches if necessary, process until fine and smooth.
- For up to 6 months, store in an airtight container.
- You may pull out the flour whenever you want and make corn tortillas without having to go through the nixtamalization or grinding procedure if you manufacture your own masa harina. Homemade masa harina is not only more tasty than store-bought masa harina flour, but it also saves time.
Read Next: Substitute for Masa Harina.
Fresh Masa Vs Instant Masa
Instant masa dough is prepared by adding water to masa harina flour, and fresh masa dough is made from freshly ground corn. Because few individuals have the time to go through all of the steps involved in making fresh masa dough, masa harina flour allows anyone to produce fresh corn tortillas.
If you own a restaurant, having shelf-stable masa harina on hand for your recipes is a good idea. If your claim to fame is classic corn tortillas, however, for the most authentic Mexican-inspired recipes, use fresh masa dough. It’s a time-consuming process that provides delectable results. You must first grasp the nixtamalization procedure before making your masa dough.
Cornmeal Vs Masa
Ground corn is used to make cornmeal and corn flour, whereas nixtamalized ground corn is used to make masa harina. Masa harina has a delicious flavor that you won’t get in cornmeal thanks to the nixtamalization process. Cornmeal can be used to make cornbread or pancakes. However, masa harina should be used to make tortillas and tamales if you want the trademark toasted corn flavor.
Related Post: Does cornmeal go bad?
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