Corn is a staple ingredient in many cuisines around the world. From tortillas to cornbread, this versatile grain can be used in a variety of dishes.
But have you ever heard of corn mill flour?
This type of flour is made from dried hominy, which are corn kernels that have been soaked in a limewater solution to remove the hull.
In this article, we’ll explore the differences between corn mill flour, cornmeal, and cornstarch, and how they can be used in your cooking.
So grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive in!
What Is Corn Mill Flour?
Corn mill flour, also known as masa harina, is a type of flour that is used to make the dough, masa, for tortillas and tamales. It is made from dried hominy, which are corn kernels that have been soaked in a limewater solution to remove the hull.
The process of making corn mill flour involves first soaking the corn kernels in a limewater solution. This process, known as nixtamalization, helps to soften the kernels and remove the tough outer hull. The kernels are then ground into a fine powder, which is used to make the dough for tortillas and tamales.
Corn mill flour has a unique flavor and texture that is different from other types of corn products. It has an earthy, sweet flavor and a fine, smooth texture that is similar to whole wheat flour.
How Is Corn Mill Flour Made?
Corn mill flour, also known as masa harina, is made from dried hominy. The process begins by soaking the corn kernels in a limewater solution for several hours. This process helps to soften the kernels and remove the tough outer hull, making it easier to grind them into a fine powder.
After soaking, the kernels are rinsed thoroughly to remove any remaining hulls and debris. They are then ground into a fine powder using a stone mill or electric grinder. The resulting flour is then sifted to remove any larger pieces and ensure a consistent texture.
The final product is a fine, smooth flour with an earthy, sweet flavor that is perfect for making traditional Mexican dishes like tortillas and tamales. Corn mill flour is an essential ingredient in many Mexican recipes and is widely available in grocery stores and specialty food shops.
Corn Mill Flour Vs. Cornmeal: What’s The Difference?
While corn mill flour and cornmeal are both made from dried corn, they have distinct differences in texture and usage. Cornmeal is a coarsely ground flour that feels gritty, while corn mill flour is finely ground and has a smooth texture. The degree of milling determines the texture of the flour, with corn flour being the finest and cornmeal being the most coarse.
Cornmeal is often used in porridge dishes, muffins, tortillas, and cornbread, while corn mill flour is primarily used to make masa dough for tortillas and tamales. Corn mill flour is also known as masa harina, which translates to “dough flour” in Spanish.
Another key difference between the two is the process of production. Cornmeal is simply ground dried corn kernels, while corn mill flour is made from dried hominy. Hominy is corn kernels that have been treated with a limewater solution to remove the hull, which softens the kernels and makes them easier to grind into a fine powder.
In terms of taste, cornmeal has a distinct buttery flavor while corn mill flour has an earthy, sweet taste similar to whole wheat flour. While they can be used interchangeably in some recipes, using one for the other will yield a slightly different result. For example, using cornmeal in place of corn mill flour when making tortillas or tamales will result in a grittier texture.
Corn Mill Flour Vs. Cornstarch: Which To Use When?
While corn mill flour and cornstarch are both derived from corn, they serve different purposes in the kitchen. Corn mill flour is used primarily in making masa for tortillas and tamales, while cornstarch is used as a thickener in sauces, gravies, and soups.
Cornstarch is a fine, white powder that is extracted from the endosperm of the corn kernel. It is a pure starch that has no flavor or color and is used to thicken liquids. Cornstarch is a popular thickener because it has twice the thickening power of flour and is gluten-free.
On the other hand, corn mill flour has a distinct flavor and texture that adds to the overall taste of the final product. It cannot be used as a thickener due to its texture, but it can be used in combination with other flours for baked goods.
When deciding which to use in a recipe, it’s important to consider the desired outcome. If you’re making tortillas or tamales, corn mill flour is the obvious choice. If you’re making a sauce or gravy that needs to be thickened, cornstarch is the way to go.
It’s worth noting that substituting one for the other can drastically change the texture and flavor of your dish. So, it’s best to stick to the recommended ingredient for the best results.
How To Use Corn Mill Flour In Your Cooking
Corn mill flour, or masa harina, can be a versatile ingredient in your cooking. Here are some ways to use it:
1. Tortillas: Corn mill flour is the traditional flour used to make corn tortillas. Simply mix the flour with water and a pinch of salt to make a dough, then roll it out into thin circles and cook on a hot griddle.
2. Tamales: Like tortillas, tamales are made with a dough made from corn mill flour. The dough is wrapped around a filling (such as pork or chicken) and steamed until cooked through.
3. Breading: Corn mill flour can be used as a gluten-free alternative to breadcrumbs for breading chicken or fish. Simply season the flour with your favorite spices and coat your protein before frying.
4. Masa-based dishes: Corn mill flour can also be used to make other masa-based dishes, such as pupusas (a Salvadoran stuffed corn cake) or gorditas (a Mexican stuffed corn cake).
5. Baked goods: While not as common, corn mill flour can also be used in baked goods such as cornbread or muffins for a unique flavor and texture.