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bimbojones

Making Fresh Masa

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I was told the KA food mill was for dry grains and wouldn't work.

Did the KA people tell you this, or did someone who tried it tell you? I doubt the phone support from the KA folks would tell you to go ahead and try it, since it wasn't manufactured for that purpose, but I really don't see why it wouldn't work. Anyway, thanks for the blog on the topic, fascinating stuff. I'm not sure I'd care to buy a new appliance just to give it a try, but maybe if someday I have a really big kitchen...

It was a fellow Mexican food enthusiast who said it wouldn't work. I wasn't going to risk it.

Looking over this thread, I see andiesenji mentions the Indian thing. Being the obsessive I am, I bought one. It's ok but it's still not fine enough. If you were a tamal addict, it would be a great way to go but for $200 or so, it's not a fine enough grind for tortillas.


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I stand corrected re the Indian grinder. We made some masa here in the warehouse yesterday and it was a hit. But I've tried the Indian grinder about 7 or 8 times and this was the first time the masa was fine enough without being heavy.

You want to cook the corn in the cal just until you peel off the skins. For us this was about 20 minutes. Then you cover, turn off the heat and wait until morning. I've cooked it longer and the masa gets heavy and not very nice.

We also let the masa rest and this seemed to help.

Delicious results!


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Had to pause a bit in the project due to a collaborator's lack of availability. In the breach, I ordered some fresh lime from someone called Mrs. Wages, which will enable me to do a test of the new stuff with the old stuff that's been in my cupboard a long time (and was probably on the shelf for a while before I bought it).

Does anyone have a recommendation for a hand mill? I'm seeing all sorts of odd things out there like brands named "Generic," and this Corona seems a bit pricey.

You want to cook the corn in the cal just until you peel off the skins. For us this was about 20 minutes. Then you cover, turn off the heat and wait until morning. I've cooked it longer and the masa gets heavy and not very nice.

Steve, can you clarify? Do you mean

(1) cook the corn for about 20 minutes or until you are able to peel of the skins; cover without heat over night; peel the skins; OR

(2) cook the corn for about 20 minutes or until you are able to peel of the skins; peel the skins; return to the pot and cover without heat over night?

I'm assuming it's (1) but I want to be sure.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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It's 1.

Keep checking the skins after 10 minutes. Once you can peel them, let them rest. You'll rub and peel later. I see Theobrama says 1 hour, but I've always heard 1 hour if you're making pozole, overnight for masa.


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I am very happy to see that someone else is pursuing their own fresh masa! I ended up giving up on my project, as I was never able to obtain suitable corn. But I did get a decent result once by grinding nixtamalized corn to a powder maseca-esque and then using this powder as a flour to make tortillas.

I hope you have your own lard ready for tamales when the finished product comes through!

I don't have any suggestions for a grinder, but probably dig up some resources on metates or metate like grinders if you want to go the true old school route. As for your lime, I wouldn't worry too much, calcium hydroxide should have a pretty stable shelf life, but remember to rinse well!

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I just got a big Rancho Gordo order in and it included a bag of "white corn" (thanks, Señor Sando!)---is this the stuff y'all are using to make the masa? Any more progress on this front?


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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I just got a big Rancho Gordo order in and it included a bag of "white corn" (thanks, Señor Sando!)---is this the stuff y'all are using to make the masa? Any more progress on this front?

It sounds like we sent you posole, so that's best to soak and simmer. No cal needed. Did they send you a recipe card? Heads will roll!!!

We have a locally produced heirloom variety of corn from Jalisco that we'll be adding this week. And cal, too. You're still stuck on the grinding situation.


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It sounds like we sent you posole, so that's best to soak and simmer. No cal needed. Did they send you a recipe card? Heads will roll!!!

lol, it is very possible there were recipes in the box, but I must be honest and admit that if there were, I didn't even notice them :unsure: . So posole is slaked corn, and I so I skip the cal step, if I can just figure out how to grind it. Has anyone used this grinder: Universal Grain/Corn/Cereal Mill?


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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The posole is too expensive to grind, I would think.

That grinder looks similar to the one i have (there's a photo upthread) but it looks like they're grinding the corn dry. I did it wet.


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FWIW, this is the grinder we used last summer at Diana Kennedy's house

gallery_26025_5255_74361.jpg

gallery_26025_5255_49450.jpg

You had to grind it through twice and used your fingers to kind guide the corn and ground corn down the hopper.

gallery_26025_5255_118271.jpg

Here's what the internal gear looked like

gallery_26025_5255_4616.jpg

The masa was quite good. Time consuming but good. DK grows some of her own corn, does the whole nixtamalization process, but she also sends corn out to the molinaro in the village above hers.

I have to say, she's got more interesting contraptions that she's picked up in her travels around Mexico that are so well suited to the task at hand.

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Rancho Gordo,

Re: the mechanized Indian Stone Grinder, I looked at the ones Andiesenji had linked, but did not see the benchmark there, the Ultrapride series, sold by Innoconcepts in the US.

However, as you may already have realized, this machine is dedicated to a special task: wet grind rice and urad dal [ split, hulled Vigna mungo or black gram]. This the Ultrapride does very well indeed. It also grinds smaller amounts of "chutneys' with an attachment. In short, it is designed as the ideal machine for the vegetarian South Indian family, fixing the whole range of their favorite batters and sides extremely well. It does rice noodles and rice batters superbly as well.

As I noted in another thread, it does not have the weight/power in its roller assembly to handle heavier grains like maize. Nor are the Indian "blender" machines like Sumeet or Preeti going to do the job via their Osterizer type "cutting" blades, powerful though they are.

Both types of Indian machines, the stone grinder and the cutting blades, work best, or work only, in a very liquid environment suitable for batters but not MASA DOUGH.

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Both types of Indian machines, the stone grinder and the cutting blades, work best, or work only, in a very liquid environment suitable for batters but not MASA DOUGH.

Well, the last time I did it worked very well. And they are actively marketing this thing to Mexican restaurants as a masa grinder.


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I've had an Indian wet grinder on my list for the next time I'm in the US so I'd love to hear more about their prowess or not with maize. I'm not sure why maize would be heavier. We are talking about wet maize here. Steve, are you saying that it was when you prepared the nixtamal in a certain way that you got a good masa? ie that it was the nixtamalization not the grinding that made the difference?

Rachel


Rachel Caroline Laudan

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I'm not sure if the problem was me or the machine. The first time I made the nixtamal, I cooked it for an hour. In the morning, I rinsed it and rubbed all the skins off and added the wet kernels to the machine. It made a dough but it was incredibly heavy and sticky and a little bit gritty. The tortillas never puffed up.

The next two or three times, I cooked the nixtamal to the point where I could easily rub of the skins, which was about 10 to 15 minutes, then left it to soak overnight. The masa was still a little gritty (which wasn't unpleasant, just not what I was used to) but the texture was ok. The tortillas still wouldn't puff.

The last time I did it was in our warehouse. We made the nixtamal on a hot plate and weren't paying close attention but somehow the masa was smooth and had that slightest hint of a sponge texture, which is exactly how I get it from the tortilleria. The torillas puffed! The differences were we left the masa to rest, I think. I also thing I started the grinding in smaller batches and added more corn as the thing became smooth. You can't do too big a batch. The grinding takes 15-20 minutes.

I hope to try it again but I won't have time until after next week (New Orleans for the IACP conference and hopefully at least coffee with you!) and I'll try and make a video.


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I have not made masa dough in an Ultrapride, but with regard to dosa or idli batter, the instructions warn to add water, and only then to add the soaked rice or dal in small quantities, making sure the batter is stone ground in a liquid environment.

I had thought that maize, even nixtamalized, would be much tougher to gring than the rice and urad dal. More importantly, adding the amount of water I would think safe for the Ultrapride would produce too liquid a dough. whereas, in my mind, a metate ground dough would add much less water than required by the Ultrapride.

Now, while I have not used nixtamal with either an Ultrapride or a metate, I have used the Indian equivalents of the metate, both the flat stone and roller, and the carved schist mortar and its own particular pestle -like upright roller from childhood and have familiar with the dynamics of grains ground in them and doughs produced. The dough is much drier, as one can strictly control the amount of water added, and this depends on the degree of effort one wishes to expend as wel as the size, geometry and balance of the equipment being used.

So I remain a bit mystified by the Ultrapride being able to turn out a suitably dry masa dough [without burning out in a shorter time frame than it otherwise might!!], but will accept your verdict for now! Note that I am an enthusiastic promoter of Ultrapride [no commercial connection whatsoever] as many on eGullet may attest, but not of the other brands, for extremely good reason. So when my excitement is somewhat muted, it is not for lack of appreciation of that brand. BTW, they are selling a model with a 10 year guarantee in India which they are yet to bring out in the USA. So for people in the UK or elsewhere with 50 cycle, 220volt AC, please try to buy your machine from a UK dealer or get it from India. It will be half the USA dealer price.

P.S. Forgot to ask: what type of flint or dent corn is used to make your masa? That may have some bearing on the ability of the machine to process the nixtamal.


Edited by v. gautam (log)

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Thanks to both of you. Very informative and thought provoking.

I've made a note that it should be an Ultrapride I buy. It does seem that the texture of masa and other doughs is different from the batters of South India. All very puzzling.

I am dying to get my hands on an Indian grindstone but have not been able to find any in the United States. Any ideas?

Steve, I'm looking forward to seeing you on Thursday,

Rachel


Rachel Caroline Laudan

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The corn is still very moist and you do start w/ a 1/2 cup of water. By the time the corn is ground, the small amount of water is absorbed. The dough once it's really done, is pretty soft and doesn't seem to be a stress on the machine at all.

I promise to make a video once I get back.

I've used generic starch corn from the Mexican grocer and some nice heirloom corn we grew, originally from Jalisco, called La Montosa. I think I even tried the purple corn. the results were similar.

eta: this is my story of making masa, up until the point of the Ultrapride. Link.


Edited by rancho_gordo (log)

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Rancho_Gordo,

If you are happy with the Ultrapride, none could be happier than I!! I feel naturally defensive hoping that people don't feel cheated by an Indian machine that actually is extremely well-built for the purpose it was envisioned. It also performs excellently for things like Thi rice noodles.

I am glad that an experienced masa maker like yourself has given Ultrapride his imprimatur.

Rachel,

Regarding indian grinding stones, you need t be very circumspect. The ones on sale manufactured in Bangladesh, 12 inches wide by 18 inches long anf the bigger size are merely barely sufficient for very quick spice grinding. The quality is poor, the indentation is poorer. Note that after the stone is sliced into a block and smoothed, with a steel point and hammer a master mason engages in a rhytmic tapping and engraves a series of indentations in delightful patterns. The deppth of these have alot to do with the success of the grinding. as does the material andthe shape an weight of the roller, about which in a moment.

These indentations wera out with frequent use and need to be renewed. Not a problem where these crafts are common, but a headache where they are not. Another task for you to accomplish by yourself, safety goggles and all; not too many minutes required.

The roller needs to be of top quality, not quite cylindrical but polyhedral within the cylinder shape, if I can use the tem. The top and botton faces slightly flattened from the round, so that the "sides" of the cylinder are distinctly visible as a curvilinear edge. There has to be a balance between pure roll and drag/push fo maximum efficiency.

However, a slightly different style of the flat slab used in Bangalore is pictured in post 175 here:

http://www.gourmetindia.net/forums/index.p...topic=63&st=160

The curved metate is very different and more efficient with respect to masa, than te flat Indian grindstone. he hollow very large black granite or schist South Indian grindstone with the perfectly balanced mushala, or upright roller

one style pictured here : post 181: http://www.gourmetindia.net/forums/index.p...=180entry8864

The round deep style is favored fro grinding wet grain and legumes. Your palm cups the roller "head" to use an approximate term and uses its centered balance and weight to keep it spinning, allowing its weight to crush the grain against the side walls. You bend it ocassionally, think about your hand sitting on top of the head of a figure skater who is spinning, and you are able to bend her a bit so that the tip of her "spindle" does not quite leave the center, but the sides, the slightly planar edges tranfer angular momentum [don't take my physics as accurate!] in a way as to mash the grains against he side more.

You are widening the circle, pushing the roller HEAD through a larger CONIC section. There are two major types of roller design, based on the ellipse.

As you can see, each takes a lot of careful craftsmanship. PLUS, you need to ensure that they are NOT made of SOFT export quality granite but the HARD schist-type.

If you are in CA, around Sunnyvale, Bay Area, LA, anywhwere and everywhere in CA and Washington where expatriate Indians gather place an ad in Freecycle. many of the South Indian families have been foisted their treasured grinders by anxious mothers-in-law. Sitting and gathering dust, they may be persuaded to be sold or given away free. These would be the best quality.

These grinders, the particular Vegetarian diet they represent and brains go together, remember that. So wherever there are industries and professions requiring maximum brain power there you will these grinders on the West Coast, and correspondingly busy lives with less time to use them. There lies your opportunity.

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I just want to stress I did not come up with the idea of using the Ultraprode for masa. The US distributor is advertising it as a machine for masa. I saw the ad in El Restaurante Mexicano, an industry magazine.

And while after 6 tries, I got a good batch, I would not recommend this machine to a casual user. It's $200 or so.

The last time I was in Mexico I saw an electric grinder and I think that may be worth pursuing.


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"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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Thanks Steve and Gautam,

This is all very interesting and I'm going to have to print it out and absorb it all. Just off the top of my head, there are some terrible grindstones being sold in Mexico now too. Just concrete painted black and terrible for the health. But more when I've mulled all this over.

Rachel


Rachel Caroline Laudan

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As a public service, I videotaped the making of the masa with my ultrapride.

The corn was boiled with just water and about 2 spoonfuls of cal for about 15 minutes and then left to sit overnight, rinsed and strained and then added to the machine as shown.

It was pretty good this time. The main thing is that despite what seems like a huge workbowl, you really can't make more than a cup at a time.


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"How do you say 'Yum-o' in Swedish? Or is it Swiss? What do they speak in Switzerland?"- Rachel Ray

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Thanks for the video: was that all in real-time or was there some time-lapse action going on there?

The total time was about 15-20 minutes. I imagine even three minutes of this video would be pretty boring if you had no interest!

The bird sounds were literally the sounds of spring in Napa, by the way!


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