This article recalls a German acquaintance who’d confided to me his immediate post-war blanket (when a child) had been sewn together from the skins of his Heidelberg neighborhood’s cats (which had been stewed, nothing wasted.) Another German acquaintance, of the next generation, wouldn’t so much as consider even tasting any food prepared from maize, it was beneath human consumption in his view, only fit for animals. How quickly arrogance returns. He may yet be humbled.
Europe is on the verge of economic and social breakdown and European leaders are essentially narcissistic morons without the sight necessary to grasp they cannot re-float the European Union ship of state with a keel broken on the reef of their own filthy geopolitics, noting (among other failed policies) ‘regime change’ in Syria. Considering the direction the USA’s sycophant Angela Merkel has taken the German people particularly (and Europe generally) with war on every horizon, it occurs people (not only the Germans) should have access to important information critical to survival. This following overcomes a circumstance where you might have access to maize (widely grown to feed animals in Europe) and yet suffer malnutrition.
Nixtamal is a Spanish word derived from Aztec language; and is the name of processed maize treated with alkaline solution… which enhances the nutritional value of the grain. When the Europeans brought maize from the Americas to the rest of the world, they didn’t adopt the Native American nixtamalization process, resulting in malnutrition disease in areas where maize became a staple crop. The people should not fall into this trap again:
Nixtamalization of Maize with Wood Ash
Untreated maize is vitamin (niacin, particularly), mineral and amino acid deficient. The ancient Native American process of Nixtamalization corrects this, transforms the niacin to digestible form and adds essential minerals. Wood ash method was most widely used in the ancient Americas although utilizing lime from shell ash was also known. Lime from limestone is most widely used today but carries the handicap of less easily accessible in event of social/commercial breakdown. It makes more sense to be familiar (skilled, actually) with the wood ash method of processing maize.
Research information on the chemical composition and protein value of tortillas made from the nixtamalization of maize using either lime or wood ashes: The calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and zinc content of lime and wood ashes showed lime processed maize to be high in calcium content while wood ash processed maize contained more potassium and about 71% of the calcium content of that employing lime process. Both contained relatively high levels of magnesium, iron and zinc, but more in the wood ash process. In a laboratory analysis of nixtamal, the level of reagent for nixtamalization was set at 0.8% of the maize weight. All other processing conditions were kept constant. The pH of the cooking solution was 12.0 for lime and 10.9 for wood ash. The moisture content of maize at 60 min of cooking was 45.8% for both treatments, however after 12 h of soaking, moisture level was 51.0% for the lime treatment and only 46.8% for the ash treatment. Solids (2.4%) in the lime cooking liquor were higher than in the wood ash liquor (1.0%). Post process chemical composition showed masa (processed maize flour) absorbed relatively high levels of all minerals including iron and zinc from the wood ash treatment. Tortilla (cooked masa flat bread) characteristics were similar. Protein quality of both alkali cooked products was lower than that of raw maize, more so the product from the wood ash treatment. However in vitamin, amino acids, and especially essential minerals, either post-process product is shown to be superior for dietary absorption compared to unprocessed maize. Overall, wood ash method is shown superior to lime process for improving the nutritional value of maize.
Different types of trees give different levels of alkalinity; The Iroquois method preferred using Poplar ashes. A recent study noted that Navajos use ground Juniper ash in preparing their maize flour. Other ash found to be used in throughout the Americas are corn kernels, corn cobs and even ash of crushed, burnt oyster shell (as poisoned as the oceans have become, you likely wouldn’t wish to revert to this.)
Be concerned with the purity of the ashes. Ashes made from chemically treated wood, newspaper, egg cartons, or any industrial processed wood product are almost certainly toxic and not suitable for cooking. The best objects are pesticide, preservative, and chemical free. Using leaves and dry brush and kindling to start your *clean wood* fire is the better option.
Do not cook in Aluminum pots or use aluminum spoons when working with wood ash. The Lye in the wood ash chemically reacts with aluminum. The ash can ruin your aluminum pots and spoons due to the alkalinity, as well the reaction with aluminum can poison the processed maize. Stainless Steel pots and stainless or wood spoons are the better alternative. One ancient method had been to drop a super-heated stone into a rawhide bag filled with the maize and ash water (if you were ever to ‘revert’ to this native ‘instant boil’ method, the hot stone must be moved constantly with stout sticks, until cooled, to prevent it burning a hole in the bag.)
Mohawk method employing hardwood
For a quick soak (1 -3 hours) process: Make the ash water with 1:1 or 1:2 proportion by volume; e.g. nixtamalize 2 liters of maize using 2 liters of ashes (tip: using hardwood, oak specifically, in my experience is this is much too strong; 1/4 ash amount by volume to maize with a longer or 12-24 hour soak time is much more practical and safe. Our experiment with 1:1 quick soak but distracted and treated for five hours was so strong in lye content the treated maize mildly burned the mouth.) With more alkaline ashes, adjust the ash level down. Sift out any chunks of charcoal or un-burnt wood. Mohawks preferred using ash from hardwood (oak works well.) Mix ash into large amount of water (14-16 quarts.) Bring to a boil and allow maize to soak. To test to see if the solution is strong enough, put a kernel of white maize in the solution and it should turn a bright golden yellow or orange. If the test kernel doesn’t turn color, its not strong enough and you will need to add more ash. The test kernel should turn color in less than one minute. Different varieties of hardwoods will vary in alkaline strength and require adjustments in ratios. Processed maize must be rubbed and rinsed to remove the pericarp (thin exterior shell) but should not be over-washed. If the pericarp easily rubs off without the kernels breaking down, you’ve got the soak time and solution right. If the kernels break down, dilute the ash with more water for next try, as the solution is too strong.
An optional step is stir ashes into heated water and pour through a dishcloth or cheesecloth or a fine sieve prior to mixing in the maize (if you don’t want ash mud in the bottom of the cooking/soaking kettle.)
General departure point for generic hardwoods employing 12-24 hours soak would be a solution of 1/2 liter sifted ash per two liters dried maize kernels. Bring to a boil, let cool and allow to soak.
Maize may be stored in cool, dry condition until ready for process; processed nixtamal must be either used immediately or frozen, or dried and stored, or dried and ground into masa harina (nixtamal flour.)
Flint maize (the hard ‘Indian Corn’) is the preferred variety as it is both; the original maize used and less likely to be GMO. If it is available, the Hopi or Navaho ‘Blue Corn’ is optimal as it averages 14% protein, a high protein value and the end product should also show a superior protein content when compared to inferior strains of processed maize.
A highly relevant note would be, it would be wise to acquire the older strains of maize for cultivation, as much of the world’s maize grown today from commercial sources is genetically engineered to be ‘sterile’ or that is to say will not reproduce and give you a second generation and any crop grown from commercial seed will be useless for future planting. This growing corporate control over the world’s food supply is a direct threat to any nation’s security and information that should be disseminated as widely as possible. Control over the food supply is critical to both; personal and national sovereignty.