Effect of lime and wood ash on the nixtamalization of maize and tortilla chemical and nutritional characteristics

Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2010 Jun;65(2):130-5. doi: 10.1007/s11130-010-0162-8.


The objective of the study was to obtain information on the chemical composition, functional properties, sensory quality and protein value of tortillas made from the nixtamalization of maize using either lime or wood ashes. The Ca, K, Mg, Fe, and Zn content of lime and wood ashes showed lime to be high in Ca content while wood ash contained more K and about 71% of the Ca content of lime. Both contained relatively high levels of Mg, Fe and Zn, but more so in the wood ashes. The level of reagent for nixtamalization was set at 0.8% of the maize weight. All other processing conditions were kept constant. The pH of the cooking solution was 12.0 for lime and 10.9 for wood ash. The moisture content of maize at 60 min of cooking was 45.8% for both treatments, however after 12 h of soaking, moisture level was 51.0% for the lime treatment and only 46.8% for the ash treatment. Solids (2.4%) in the lime cooking liquor were higher than in the wood ash liquor (1.0%). Chemical composition changes were similar between treatments in masa and tortilla; however, both masa and tortillas absorbed relatively high levels of all minerals including Fe and Zn from the wood ash treatment. The different treatment influenced functional properties particularly hardness and color. Tortilla characteristics were also similar. Protein quality of both alkali cooked products was lower than that of raw corn, more so the product from the wood ash treatment. Although some differences were observed in the sensory studies, human subjects did not dislike the wood ash made tortillas.

MeSH terms

  • Bread / analysis*
  • Bread / standards
  • Calcium Compounds*
  • Color
  • Cooking
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Minerals / analysis*
  • Odorants
  • Oxides*
  • Seeds
  • Taste
  • Water
  • Wood*
  • Zea mays*


  • Calcium Compounds
  • Dietary Proteins
  • Minerals
  • Oxides
  • Water
  • lime