In India, maize is consumed in the form of boiled or roasted as popcorn.
In countries like South America, Central America and Africa, it is converted into food products by grinding, alkali processing, boiling, cooking and fermentation.
Nutritive Value :
Maize contains around 11 per cent of protein. Maize protein is deficient in amino acids like tryptophan and lysine.
New varieties with high lysine are being produced in countries like America. Maize is a good source of carotene. It also contains thiamine and folic acid in appreciable amounts.
Maize is like any other cereal, rich in calories and is used in supplementary nutrition programmes and Integrated Child Development Services programmes to feed malnourished children.
According to the studies conducted at National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad, 17-56 per cent of aflatoxin is reduced in maize by cooking.
There are three major processes utilized in the production of maize for food usage:
Grinding of the whole grain stone or roller mill to produce flour or meal is a simple method used worldwide when the ground products are to be consumed shortly after processing.
The stability of such products is limited owing to the presence of crushed germ in the flour. Oil from broken germ cells is easily oxidized to produce rancid odour and flavour.
The large as well as small grits are used in the production of cornflakes and breakfast cereal. Dry milled germ can be pressed or solvent extracted to recover the valuable oil. The major advantages of maize dry milling are the lower capital costs as compared to wet milling.
In developed countries like USA, the major utilization has been wet milling. The two most important products of wet milling are high fructose corn syrup and ethanol.
In this, the maize is mixed with water and lime and cooked at 90°C for 50 minutes. The cooked maize is then steeped for 14 hours before being washed with fresh water to remove residual alkali and other waste material from maize.
The washed maize is milled to a gritty textured product called “masa”. This is rolled into flat cakes and baked in an oven for 1-2 minutes to produce the traditional tortilla.
Masa can also be deep fried to produce tortilla chips or maize chips or it can be dried and finally milled to produce mass flour.