About this recipe
Thanks to Suzanne Lewis for growing wisdom, and to Amanda Rich and Ester Ceja for processing wisdom.
Plantar Plant the corn. Plant it in blocks, not in one long row, six to 12 inches apart and one to four inches deep. Soak overnight to aid germination. Some people put the kernels in their mouths first. The corn will know you this way, and will grow and produce what you need.
Crecer Grow the corn. Blue corn doesn’t need lots of water, but give it some when it looks thirsty, especially when it’s flowering.
Cosechar Harvest the corn. It is ready to harvest when the husks have dried out completely on the plant. If frost looms, pull the entire plant and allow it to dry down under cover.
Secar Dry the corn. Pull the husks back off the cobs and braid or tie them up to dry, or lay them out on screens or in gunny sacks. Drying will take about one month.
Desgranar Shell the corn. Use an empty cob to rub the kernels off the other cobs into a bowl. If the kernels do not pop off relatively easily, perhaps your corn is still too moist.
Hervir con cal Boil with cal (calcium hydroxide). You can buy cal at Mexican grocery stores. Use one handful of cal “como carton de helado” of corn (“like an ice cream carton” of corn, says Sra. Ceja—approximately 1 quart). Add plenty of water to cover, and boil for 20–30 minutes, until the kernels begin to swell and the skins begin to slide off.
Remojar en la cal Let the mixture sit in the pot overnight.
Lavar Rinse the kernels. The skins on the kernels should mostly come off. If they don’t, consider leaving the corn (now called nixtamal) longer in the water.
Moler Grind the nixtamal into masa. Use a corn grinder (you can get one at Mexican markets). Grind it as finely as you can.
Hacer tortillas Make tortillas! Add water to your masa (not very much!) until it can stick together in a ball. Make small balls in your hands, then press them with your hands or with a tortilla press. If using a press, put two pieces of thick plastic, like from a freezer bag, above and below the ball to keep the masa from sticking to the press. Cook the tortillas on a comal (griddle) on medium heat. Ceja uses two comales, cooking both sides of the tortilla on one before moving it to the other to finish.