“Using masa harina [masa flour] is like making mashed potatoes from a box.”
So says Karen Waikiki, owner of Primavera, the Sonoma company that makes masa, tortillas, and tamales from organic stoneground corn. And she has a point. Though the tortillas I made from masa harina were way better than the store-bought tortillas I’ve had and were definitely worth making as an alternative to them (a million times cheaper too).
I’ve used Primavera masa before. I got it from the Berkeley Farmer’s Market and froze it because the guy at the booth said I could to preserve it. Karen says no no don’t freeze it. I chronicled my adventures using the defrosted masa when I made tortilla pie. The short version is: they still tasted great and worked in larger applications, but I couldn’t make tortillas that didn’t fall apart.
I’ve been trying to find Primavera masa to try this again with the fresh stuff. But no store carries it. I can find the tortillas and tamales easily enough though. So I called Primavera and Karen called me back. Because the masa is more perishable than the finished products, it’s not currently sold in stores. My choices were to go to Farmer’s Markets in Berkeley, San Francisco (Ferry Building), or Sonoma, or to their shop in Sonoma (the closest but still about 40 mins each way).
Or I could special order it. I decided to have them send a bag to the Petaluma Whole Foods. Karen sweetly offered to comp it for me, since I told her I had blogged about them. I said I wanted to get it regularly so I didn’t mind paying.
I went to Whole Foods and ordered it and, a few days later, they called me to say it was in. And there was a big “no charge” label on it. I went to pick it up that afternoon and oh my God, the shock when I saw the bag.
That’s with some already used up. We’re talking 10 lbs of masa. Not the 2 or so lbs I had gotten before. What on earth was I going to do with it?
Well, over the next week I made some pupusas.
I made some tortillas and tortilla pie.
And I generally tried to just use it up. But I was barely making a dent. So, finally, I decided to do a giant batch of pupusas. I made 16 of them (that’s 32 tortillas) and was too tired to go on (4 for our tummies and 12 for the freezer). But the bag isn’t empty yet.
With all that, the masa is holding up incredibly well. In the beginning, I only used clean spoons to pull out masa, not my hands. So it would last a long time. And it has. It’s been 10 days since I bought it and it’s still fresh.
In the first few days, the masa was like heaven. It rolled out into perfect discs with either a press or my hands. It never stuck to anything. Now it has dried out ever so slightly and the tortillas are starting to stick and crack a bit. I added some water which helped but nothing brings back the super freshness I started with. Even so, it’s amazing stuff. Puts that powdered business to shame.
Next time though, I’m going to specify the small bags.