Tortillas & Corn Products

Mexika corn tortillasMexika prides itself in selling the best, most nutritious Mexican corn tortillas available on the market to buy in the UK. Our tortilla is made without any preservatives, they are GMO free,  gluten free wraps, they taste just like homemade corn tortillas.

We carry a number of corn products besides corn tortilla wraps, we have corn husks to make tamale and corn flour to make your own home made tortilla chips, the popular Masa Harina, we also sell chips made in the traditional manor.

History of tortillas

Corn tortillas date back to the early 16th century when corn (maize) was domesticated in Mesoamerica, parts of Central, Southern and Northern America which were occupied by a number of civilizations (especially Maya) in the pre-Columbian times. Corn spread to other parts of the world in the late 16th century. The earliest documented discovery of tortillas was on 22nd April 1519 by a man named Hernando Cortez. At the time, however, the corn tortilla was known as the “Tlaxcali”. The name had changed because tortilla referred to small cakes in Spanish.

Many years after discovery, the Latin and Aztec people were making tortillas in different shapes and sizes for daily consumption. In the 1700’s, the natives moved north to what is now modern day California, Arizona and Texas taking the tortilla as well as the skills for producing corn. Since then, the tortilla has been a basic/staple food for all kinds of people (low, middle and upper-class people).

Corn has always and is still grown worldwide on every continent except Antarctica. Most of the world’s corn is however grown in the U.S. in the Corn Belt (Michigan, Wisconsin, South Dakota, Illinois, Ohio, Iowa, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska). The U.S. produces 35% of the world’s corn. Originally, corn was planted by Native Americans. Harvesting was labor intensive and done by hand. The end of the corn harvesting period was marked by a feast/celebration. The tortilla was the staple food in the celebration.

Corn played a crucial role in the civilization of Mesoamerica. The growing and harvesting process, as well as the religious and spiritual significance of corn in the diet, played a key role in civilizing the Mesoamerica population. Corn has remained an important part of the diet of many people globally including the Latin people. In fact, the tortilla is still an important source of nutrition for Latin people.

Corn tortillas as a staple Mexican food

Corn is consumed primarily as tortillas in Mexico and most parts of Latin America. It is however used to prepare many other foods/snacks. There are over 42 types of corn each of which has its own varieties. In total, there are over 3,000 varieties of corn. Each variety derives its unique characteristics from soil conditions, altitude, humidity and method of cultivation. The difference in corn varieties results in the different types of tortillas.

Tortillas can be prepared from dry and ripe, fresh and mature as well as soft and fresh corn. Tortillas are consumed every day in most (if not all) countries in Latin America. They form part of every singles meal (breakfast, lunch and supper). Although there are many people who make tortillas at home, factory-made tortillas have become very popular today. Production/cooking commences early in the morning since tortillas are consumed at lunchtime by most people especially those in Latin America countries like Mexico. Tortillas are part of almost all traditional Mexican foods. There are several tortilla flavors and colors depending on the type of corn used.

Tortilla nutritional composition

For making corn tortillas, corn has to be prepared in an alkaline solution containing calcium hydroxide or mineral line. The preparation process enriches the nutritional value of corn significantly as a source of minerals, protein and vitamins. The limewater adds bioavailable calcium and also makes the amino acids and b vitamins in the corn easy to absorb. The process which was developed by pre-Columbian cultures is referred to as nixtamalization.

How to make tortillas using traditional Mexican ingredients

Traditional corn tortilla recipe is made by curing corn in limewater (nixtamalization). This process softens and peels off corn kernels. The resulting corn is then ground into corn flour and cooked before being kneaded into a dough known as masa nixtamalera. The dough is then pressed into thin flat patties and cooked on a hot flat metal pan known as a comal. Besides softening corn kernels, the curing process is important for making the amino acid tryptophan and B vitamin niacin available.

In most parts of Mexico today (particularly large towns and cities), tortillas are made by machine which makes them extremely thin and uniform. In the countryside, however, tortillas are still made by hand which makes them thicker and un-uniform. Tortillas are best served as well as eaten when they are warm. This is usually the case since they often become grainy or rubbery with time when the cooked starches become cold and approach staleness.

Gruma is the largest tortilla making company in the world. The company is based in Monterrey, Mexico. Traditionally, through Mesoamerica (from pre-Columbian times to the mid-20th Century), tortillas were prepared using a cylindrical stone-like rolling pin and a stone base (metate) which was slightly concave at the top to hold the corn. This method of making tortillas is still in use for home-made tortillas prepared in some rural areas in Mexico.

Tortilla wheat flour was invented after wheat was introduced to Latin America from Spain while the region was being colonized. The flour is made using unleavened water-based dough. Tortillas made using tortilla wheat flour are very similar in taste to unleavened bread popular in South Asian, Eastern Mediterranean, and Arabic countries although the tortillas are thinner and smaller.

China has its own version of the tortilla. The laobing, which is a thick circular pancake, resembles the tortilla. India also has the roti which is made using wheat flour. Both tortillas are prepared on a hot greased pan. In Argentina, Chile as well as Bolivia, tortillas are generally saltier and made using corn or wheat flour. In these countries, tortillas (which have been traditionally prepared) are made inside the ashes of a traditional oven known as the adobe oven.

Tortillas vary in regards to size depending mainly on the country/region the tortilla is being made in. Typically, tortillas measure from 6cm to over 30cm. There are very many tortilla variants based on their fillings as well as the composition of the tortilla i.e.  corn tortillas gluten free wraps. It is also important to note that tortillas can be eaten alone, filled with ingredients or eaten as an accompaniment.

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