The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Retsel for Nixtamalized Corn Masa

scratchfoodie's picture
scratchfoodie

Retsel for Nixtamalized Corn Masa

Hi - I currently own a Nutrimill (used it for years now, my family and I love bread from fresh milled flour along with all our other baked goods). I'm considering adding a Retsel Mil-master or similar to the baking arsenal.

Besides the adjustable nature of the Retsel, I'm curious if anyone has tried the masa attachment(as that would put me over the edge)? I can't find anything on the internet as far as reviews and given the money and time it takes to get one I'd like to have at least one positive recommendation prior to making the investment.

I currently have a Corona corn mill, and while it works  - it doesn't really get the masa fine enough for tortillas. I've looked for Nixtamatics, but given the 2x price tag to order from them in mexico (duty & taxes are a killer on it, and add to that if it ever needs parts or maintenance forget about it) I'd much prefer something with a US based distribution.

Thanks! Scratch.

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

Are you cooking the corn in lime water yourself?  In which case, you don't need to grind it, but mash it into a paste or dough; thus masa harina de maíz. Commercial, bagged masa de harina is first mashed, then spread thinly, dried and broken up.

gary

scratchfoodie's picture
scratchfoodie

Yes - I'm cooking in lime/cal water with an overnight soak to create the nixtamalized corn. 

Retsel sells an attachment to their Mil-Master - http://retsel.com/store/product_info.php/products_id/427

Which appears to function similarly to the Nixtamatic in Mexico - http://www.nixtamatic.com.mx/nixtamal-en.html

The conventional method was to use a Metate - http://www.rachellaudan.com/2008/11/how-to-grind-maize-for-tortillas-on-a-metate-simple-grindstone.html

I have a manual version called a Corona, but the quality is a bit questionable and it's manual so any volume is out of the question. Plus the texture still isn't quite what I want for tortillas. I really would like a mechanized way to do this, but the only answers I've found beyond the retsel seem to be commercial grade for tortilla factory scale operation. The problem with Masa de harina is after cooking the corn, it tends to go quite rancid much like other whole grans not stored properly. We'll use it on occasion, but the fresh stuff tastes WAY better.

dobie's picture
dobie

Scratch

I have nothing to add regarding your question, but I sure am interested in how one would actually convert corn to nixtamalized corn to make masa.

Thanks

dobie

scratchfoodie's picture
scratchfoodie

Dobie

The process is described here:

http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/articles/detail/make-masa-nixtamal

I've done it with my plate grinder and it's ok, they are just rougher then the tortillas you get from a tortilleria which are made fresh (they still taste delicious though).

 

fotomat1's picture
fotomat1

Here is an article......Hot Bread Bakery also has a website and store that sells a kit....

http://www.epicurious.com/expert-advice/make-new-yorks-best-tortillas-article

Book by the same name also gives very detailed instructions....results are excellent.

dobie's picture
dobie

Scratch

Thank you for the link. Just a few quick questions.

What is "cal" slaked lime and where do I look for it? Any other names it might go by (USA)?

I'm fairly new to grinding. By 'plate' grinder, it is meant the circular discs, either metal or stone, such as on a Retsel or Wondermill Jr? The stone is preferred for fineness of grind?

Thanks very much

dobie

charbono's picture
charbono

is calcium hydroxide, also known as pickling lime.

 

dobie's picture
dobie

charbono

Ahh..., pickling lime I can probably track down.

Thanks for the lead.

dobie

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

Have you looked at this?  One-third the price, and high grinding rate for a manual grinder. Plus, you're helping an actually working aid program.

From the operating manual:

Quote:
Crop Instructions
29
Updated 12/2012
COOKED MAIZE
In Mexico, Central America and South America cooked maize is used to make masa for tortillas.  The dry shelled maize kernels are cleaned to remove any discolored kernels and chaff.  The cleaned maize kernels are cooked in lime water.  This cooking is done at a low temperature over a long time period.  The cooking is complete when the kernels are swollen and the centers of the kernels are soft.  If the cooking is too short the centers of the kernels will be dry and they will not grind well.  If the cooking is too long the kernels will be too soft and the ground maize will be pasty.  The steps in this process are:


  1. Clean the maize kernels to remove bad kernels and chaff
  2. Cook the maize kernels in lime water.
  3. Using cold water and a screen, wash the cooked maize to remove the outer layer that is separated in the cooking process.
  4. Grind the cooked maize using the Omega VI grinder.  Use the metal burrs with a small burr gap and the flat auger helix.
The ground masa can be formed into tortillas and cooked.
See the operating manual for comparing what you need to the grinder's capabilities.

cheers,

gary

dobie's picture
dobie

Hi Gary

I have many questions to ask. That was a lot of information in the short space of your post.

I am all in favor of 'helping an actually working aid program' and having read from the site, but I have to ask you, why would you, I or others, buy a Ewing rather than a Wondermill Jr.

I do own a WMJr, and not to schill for them, but the two mills seem to be quite similar in essence and in fact, come in very close to the same price. Forget the relative elegance of the WMJr, is the Ewing anymore efficient? Not ever having used a Ewing, I don't know. Tho, the Ewing does seem to have a larger feed chamber.

The distinction between them that strikes me most is that the Ewing is full of sharp edges to tear at knuckles and plenty of parts to go missing. But, maybe when you get into the guts of a WMJr, the same is true, parts-wise. I don't know, but I haven't found them yet.

Part of me likes that you can field strip a unit and re-assemble it. Part of me likes a Uni design.

But for the same price (only when 'subsidized') and easier to clean, I would think the Ewing better well out perform the WMJr significantly.

If it does, I might just risk my knuckles and buy one.

Many more questions regarding Masa, but I just wanted to get this stuff out of the way.

Thanks again, good info.

dobie

charbono's picture
charbono

If you look at the Corona auger you will see that it has deep, wide grooves.  That's what you need to handle fresh nixtamal.  The Corona is made for it, although it gives a coarse grind that's better for tamales than tortillas.

 

The Retsel and the Ewing augers don't have the deep grooves, so I doubt if they'd work well for masa.  The Grainmaker mill with its corn auger might work. 

 

There is an antique CS Bell mill called La Campana (not Bell's La Campanita) that would work, but it is manual and not amenable to motorization.

 

Nixtamatic is best.

 

The other (expensive) option is to buy dried, nixtamalized corn kernels from Native Seeds or Rancho Gordo. Any mill that can handle common dry corn can handle that.  However, you wouldn't have a fresh product.

 

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

The grinding burrs appear to be about 5" diameter, compared to 4" on the WMJr.  That's 56% larger. Flour output per hour on the Ewing appears to be almost double the WMJr's.  From appearance, I'd put the Ewing in the Sherman tank class of toughness.

Did you read the operating manual with its throughput table?

From my weasel words, you can see that I don't have personal experience with either.  I did do a lot of study preparatory to plunking down my money, but a bigger decision to downsize my housing from 4 bdrm, 2500 sq ft to a small apt scotched the home milling idea.

Take my comments about grinders with a grain of salt.  I do wonder about the difficulty of mashing hominy, as I haven't found it so.

gary

dobie's picture
dobie

gary

It's all good.

I have heard before about how just a nominal increase in the diameter of the stones can greatly increase throughput. I wouldn't doubt it for a second.

I also think the Ewing is a 'Sherman Tank' for its ilk and I did not mean to imply otherwise. Believe me, I am not trying to make the WMJr out to be the better choice, I'm just debating/considering different points of advantage/disadvantage for each.

As much as I like the fact that the Ewing can be stripped down to parts, those parts can break or be lost, which is a concern. One positive I would say about the WMJr Uni design is less parts to loose or break. I was thinking that particularly in the 'bush' where hardware stores and thus, replacement parts might be hard to come by, the Ewing might be at a disadvantage there. I only mean to make conversation, not absolutes.

Regarding the throughput of the WMJr; Don't believe the hype. Don't believe the reviews. Don't believe the youtube videos. It is half of the claims at best. Fortunately, that was what I expected, so I am not disappointed. I only hope the Ewing claims are more accurate. Regardless, hand powered milling is hard work. It takes a village, believe me, to run such a mill for even one hour.

I did read the throughput data of the Ewing on the website, but I didn't understand it. That's OK, I'm sure it is quite efficient.

I look at my purchase of the WMJr as a 'starter' mill. Gets me in the game. Considering the frequency of power outages in my neighborhood, manual is a good choice (even if it eventually becomes just a 'back-up' mill).

I do think the WMJr is a bit of a Sherman Tank in it's own right. Built strong and with few parts to lose or fail. Not to say it is fail safe (by any means), but it is built quite simple and solid.

I think an advantage that the Ewing has over the WMJr is that it can be built more (third world) locally, with less techonology (but I'm not sensing that that is going on). A sheet metal bender and a drill press would suffice for most all of it but the auger. But I still think that there is a lot of knuckle scrapping possible in the design.

If I were paid minimum wage for every hour I put into researching a 'mill' to purchase, I could have bought two. Talk about efficiency.

Regardless, I wish you well in your persuit of a mill of whatever kind. Also, smaller homes are easier to clean and maintain and can be quite cozy.

When I finally get some proper calcium hydroxide and get this experiment underway, I will try to hand mash as well as grind by stone and steel plates. Fresh is definitetly the way to go.

By the way, what type of corn is used?

Thanks

dobie

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

Damned if I know.  Traditionally, I believe Southern hominy is made from white dent corn.

gary

dobie's picture
dobie

Gary

Thank you. I wasn't sure if it was dent or flint or perhaps some other distinction. I know so little about corn.

Southern hominy is made by a similar lime process, is that right?

dobie

gary.turner's picture
gary.turner

matters, though.  The main thing is that sometime in the 1930s (?) the cause of pellagra was discovered.  Due to its high incidence, because the poor could not afford sufficient meat and the staple was corn, using nixtamalation to create hominy was a lifesaver.  White dent was the primary corn crop, so that's what they used.

Likewise, liming was also the easy, cheap way to do it.  I saw somewhere that the North American Indians also limed their maize, presumably to make the corn easier to grind.  Along the coast, they burned seashells to get their CaOH instead of limestone.

cheers,

gary

dobie's picture
dobie

gary

Burning seashells to get CaOH. I could do that. I'll look into it.

Pellagra is one nasty disease. Doesn't get a lot of air time nowadays and I don't know the extent to which it might still exist, but it not only messes with the skin but the intestinal tract as well and can also lead to paralysis and emotional/behavioural issues.

Back 20-30 years ago or so, there was a popular book called 'Diet For A Small Planet' (or something to that effect). I believe that's where I first heard of the whole niacin deficiency/pellagra connection that was discovered in the 1920's-30's that led to the 'enrichment of flour' as we know it today.

That book went deeply into liming of corn and the nutritional transformations it brought. Also, a lot about different protiens from different sources (limed corn being one of them) to build a 'complete' protien, supposedly comparable to meat.

I hope that was all accurate, it's been a long time since I read that book (and others like it, so I might be 'blending' memories).

Thanks

dobie

STUinlouisa's picture
STUinlouisa

Just ran across your post. My solution to the problem since I have a KoMo and can't grind wet or oily was to make nixtamal by cooking organic yellow dent corn in lime water soaking overnight then removing the outer layer and dehydrating. Then it was easy to make a fine flour by running it through the mill and rehydrating to make the tortillas. It may not be the traditional way but it works and also makes a shelf stable flour at least for the short term. Sort of like the masa you can buy in the store but you control the process.

Stu