Nixtamalization is a process that involves cooking dried maize kernels with an alkaline solution, such as slaked lime or wood ash. This process is essential in the preparation of masa, the dough used to make tortillas and many other traditional Mexican dishes. Traditionally, nixtamalization was done by cooking the maize kernels in a large pot or paila over an open flame for several hours. However, with the introduction of modern technology, reactor systems have become increasingly popular for nixtamal cooking.
Reactor systems are machines that automate the nixtamalization process by controlling the temperature, pressure, and other parameters. They offer several advantages over the traditional method, such as consistent quality, increased efficiency, and reduced labor. Reactor systems can also be customized to fit specific production needs, such as batch size and output capacity.
However, some argue that the traditional method of cooking nixtamal in a paila over an open flame produces a superior flavor and texture in the final product. This is due to the unique charred flavor imparted by the wood fire, as well as the slight variations in temperature and other factors that occur during the manual process.
Ultimately, the choice between using a reactor system or the traditional method for nixtamal cooking will depend on individual preferences and production needs. While reactor systems offer many advantages in terms of efficiency and consistency, the traditional method may appeal to those who value the unique flavor and texture of the final product.
At Tortilleria El Molino, we take pride in using both traditional and modern methods to produce our high-quality masa. Our traditional paila system allows us to create a unique flavor profile in our masa, while our reactor systems ensure consistency and efficiency in our production process.
- Bressani, R., & Elias, L. G. (1987). Chemical and nutritional changes during the nixtamalization of maize. Advances in Food and Nutrition Research, 31, 1-52.
- Morales-de la Peña, M., et al. (2021). A review on the nixtamalization process of maize kernels: Chemical and microbiological changes. Food Reviews International, 1-21.
- Pérez-García, F., et al. (2020). Analysis of the effect of pressure on nixtamalization of maize kernels using a laboratory-scale pressure cooker. LWT-Food Science and Technology, 118, 108754.