Tortilla Chips And Corn Chips

Modern methods for the production of corn snacks such as tortilla chips and corn chips have origins in the ancient Aztec process of nixtamalization or alkaline cooking and steeping of corn (6). In nixtamalization whole corn is cooked in excess water containing lime. A mixture of white and yellow corn is used because corn chips made from 100% yellow corn have an unacceptable flavor profile probably resulting from carotenoid degradation (7). After cooking, the corn is allowed to steep overnight. During the process, some starch is gelatinized, the pericarp or hull disintegrates, and the endosperm hydrates and softens. After washing, the cooked corn or the nixtamal is stone ground into masa (6,7).

A modern tortilla chip process is outlined in Figure 2 and a more detailed account follows. Corn is cooked in excess water and lime (1% of corn weight) at temperatures above 200°F. Water-to-corn weight ratios range from 1.5 to 2.0:1. Cooking times vary depending on end use of the masa but are typically in the 10-30 min range. After cook-

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Corn

Water

Lime

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Washed steeped corn

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