Eastern Shore Food Lab

Traditional Tortillas

June 13, 2019
The Eastern Shore Food Lab is working to revive the ancient tradition of nixtamalizing maize for tortilla production.

Nixtamalization refers to a process of simmering tamal, or corn dough, in an alkaline solution of nextli, or wood ashes. Once softened overnight, the corn kernels are rinsed and dehulled before being stone ground into masa, a wet corn flour. The masa gets rolled into balls before being flattened and cooked on the stovetop.

Nixtamalization makes niacin available in the corn where previously it didn’t exist. It also improves flavor, aroma, and eliminates mycotoxins that might accompany the grains. Dr. Schindler traveled to Mexico to study nixtamalization with a master practitioner.Dr. Schindler traveled to Mexico to study nixtamalization with a master practitioner.The ESFL also looks into appropriate technology to show how make ancient processes relevant, and imported a traditional Molino to grind the nixtamalized corn into masa. It’s loud, fun to operate, and lets us scale up our production to share this delicious and nutritious food with the community.

Dr. Schindler unboxes the newly-delivered Molino.Dr. Schindler unboxes the newly-delivered Molino.Nixtamalized tortillas are significant because they represent what might be a modern, nutritious food that could be grown sustainably.

Our tortillas are a hit! On First Fridays in Chestertown, we create delicious toppings from scratch to introduce people to this incredible food.

Over the summer, our interns work to master the Molino and test the limits of our production capacity for sharing this amazing traditional food across the Eastern Shore.

ESFL Interns Annaliese Bush and Nicole Hatfield research how to expand the production capacity of ESFL tortillas.ESFL Interns Annaliese Bush and Nicole Hatfield research how to expand the production capacity of ESFL tortillas.


Last modified on Jun. 14th at 2:59pm by Shane Brill.