This was the culminating garden project for Lower Elementary for the year. The students literally took this from SEED TO TABLE as they planted the corn, tended it, watched it grow, let it dry on the stalk, harvested it, shucked it, removed the kernels, winnowed it, ground it, and made fresh tortillas! They saw the time and work they invested and learned many cultural and historical lessons in the process.
The corn we grew was a variety of multicolor Native American field corn.
Before the students could grind their corn, it first had to be soaked overnight in a mixture of Lime (calcium hydroxide, not the fruit!) and Water. In the Aztec language Nahuatl, the word for the product of this procedure is nixtamalli or nextamalli. The Nahuatl word means nextli “ashes” and tamalli “unformed corn dough.” We then removed the hulls from the kernels.
Students ground the kernels in a grain grinder. Some also experienced grinding in a stone vessel, which took considerable effort!
We then added a pinch of salt, and a small amount of water. After working the dough for several minutes they formed tiny balls that we set on the griddle, pressed into flat tortillas and cooked!