Nixtamalization is a traditional process in which corn is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, typically made from water and wood ash or lime.
This process was invented thousands of years ago by the Aztecs, and has several benefits, including improving the nutritional value of the corn, enhancing its flavor and aroma, and making it easier to grind into masa (short for masa harina, the spanish term for traditional corn tortilla dough) for tortillas, tamales, and other foods.
One of the main benefits of nixtamalization is that it increases the bioavailability of essential nutrients in corn, such as niacin (vitamin B3) and calcium. This is because the alkaline solution helps to break down the tough outer layer of the corn kernel, making the nutrients inside more accessible to the body.
As a result, nixtamalized corn can provide more nutritional value than unprocessed corn.
Another benefit of nixtamalization is that it improves the flavor and aroma of corn. The alkaline solution helps to release volatile compounds in the corn, creating a more complex and pleasing aroma. Additionally, the nixtamalization process gives corn a distinct flavor that is often described as "nutty" or "earthy."
In addition to improving the flavor and nutritional value of corn, nixtamalization also makes it easier to grind into masa. Masa is a dough made from nixtamalized corn that is used to make a variety of traditional Mexican dishes, such as tortillas, tamales, and pupusas. The nixtamalization process makes the corn softer and more pliable, which makes it easier to grind into a smooth dough.
Overall, nixtamalization is a traditional process that has several benefits, including improving the nutritional value, flavor, and aroma of corn, and making it easier to grind into masa. This process has been used for centuries in Mexican cuisine and continues to be an important part of the cultural heritage of many communities.
We chose to make MASA chips with naturally nixtamalized corn because it is the healthiest way to prepare corn, and provides the best possible taste for our chips.
To learn more about this process, you can check out this video by Dr. Bill Schindler, one of the foremost experts on nixtamalization: