Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Prepper's Pantry: Corn

In my earlier post about the Three Sisters planting method, I mentioned how corn (also called maize) was an integral part of that cooperative gardening system.

Corn is an ancient cultivated new world plant, descended from wild grasses. It was discovered by Europeans during the Age of Exploration in the fifteenth century, and was quickly accepted in the old world. Corn became a staple in many areas with remarkable speed, and is now the most popular grain in the world by weight, with an excess of one billion tons produced each year. 

Corn is consumed in many different forms, some seasonal, such as corn on the cob, and some year round, such as dried, canned, and frozen. Baby corn has become a staple of Asian cuisine, especially in America. Corn meal and corn flour are commonly found in the recipes of several ethnic groups, whether traditional Mexican tortillas, Italian polenta, or American grits. (As I live in the south, I am required by law to speak out against instant grits.)

Corn can be eaten as is or used as an ingredient in many recipes. I always add some to my Shepard's Pie, certain soups, my chili, and of course, my corn bread. Also, right next to the corn meal in the cupboard, I have a bag of corn masa for when I have an urge to make tortillas at home. While we generally use fresh or frozen corn in our household, we also keep a supply of canned corn in our long term food storage.

Corn Tortillas
While somewhat labor intensive, these flatbreads are really quite simple to prepare, with a tortilla press being the only special item called for. I don't own one, so I use two cutting boards and my body weight to similar effect.

Homemade Taco Bar


  • 2 cups corn masa
  • 1 1/2 to 2 cups hot water
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together masa and salt. 
  2. Gradually add the hot water, and stir the mixture with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula until an evenly-mixed dough begins to form. 
  3. Use your hands to knead the dough for 2-3 minutes in the mixing bowl until it is smooth and forms a cohesive ball. 
  4. Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel (or paper towel) and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  5. Portion the dough into 2-tablespoon balls (about the size of a golf ball), then use your hands to roll the ball until it is nice and round.
  6. Place the dough ball between two pieces of plastic in a tortilla press. Then gently press the dough ball until it forms a 4- to 5-inch tortilla.
  7. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once the pan is nice and hot, peel the tortilla away from the plastic wrap and lay the tortilla flat in the skillet. Cook the tortilla for about 40-60 seconds per side, flipping it once speckled brown spots begin to appear on the bottom of the tortilla. The tortillas will likely bubble up while cooking, especially on the second side.  
  8. Once it's cooked, transfer the tortilla to a tortilla warmer or a bowl wrapped in a clean kitchen towel, so that the tortillas do not dry out.
  9. Repeat with the remaining tortillas. Keeping the cycle going by cooking one tortilla while pressing the next dough ball at the same time.
  10. The tortillas will continue to soften a bit more as they sit in a stack in your tortilla warmer (or wrapped in a towel). So use the tortillas at the bottom of the stack first, they'll be the softest.

Remember, with only a little effort, any day can be Taco Tuesday.

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