Worth Doing From Scratch: Corn Tortillas

homemade tortillas

We do a lot of experimentation here at Root Simple Labs. Some things work out and others fail miserably. I thought I’d periodically look at the projects that have worked in the long term, specifically from scratch. Call this the first blog post in a sporadic series about stuff that’s easy and economical.

Now you should be suspicious of any tortilla making advice dispensed by a gabacho. Let’s just say it’s easy and the results are way better than those dry tortillas you buy at the store. Some things I’ve learned:

  • I have a cast iron tortilla press that works great but my Mexicano friends in the know suggested a wooden press.
  • Making masa from scratch is a huge amount of work and I’ve done just fine with supermarket masa harina.
  • As I like to measure dry ingredients by weight I’ve figured out that for enough tortillas for four people you need to mix 250 grams of flour with 300 grams of water.
  • Cook as many tortillas at once as you can. I can do three at a time on our stove. Cooking one at a time takes forever.

Keep a bag of masa harina around and you’ll be ready for any tortilla emergency. In just a few minutes you’ll have healthy, tasty tacos and save money.

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12 Comments

  1. Thank you for this! I’ve been contemplating purchasing a tortilla press and giving making them a go. we love tortillas around here and I try to make as much as I can from scratch, for economical and health reasons. Finding the balance of the 2 can be the hard part. I am looking forward to hear what else you feel is worth.

  2. I do this all the time, and yes, the tortillas are SO much better fresh! And keeping the dry masa harina on hand, it’s actually easier than running to the store for tortillas if I suddenly decide to make Mexican food.
    One thing I have noticed, since there’s so few ingredients, quality masa harina makes much tastier tortillas than the big bags of cheaper stuff. I usually use Bob’s Red Mill and I find it totally worth the price difference.

    • Sorry if this is a silly question but is Bob’s Red Mill masa harina free from GMO’s? I have been wanting to make my own corn tortillas but am concerned about this. And where do you buy it? Whole Foods?

    • I’ve heard that all Bob’s products are from non-GMO crops. Couldn’t guarantee it, though.

    • I called the company and they told me that they do not use GMO’s in any of their products.

  3. I have been doing this for a long time…until sometime last year. I quit because Corn is now just about totally GMO. So this season I am growing some Painted Mountain Corn. I will dry it, twist it off the cobs, slack it in cal and make my own masa harina. Until then, I’ll be rolling out flour tortillas–not as easy as making corn tortillas.

  4. LOL! I have never had a tortilla emergency, and I have never bought tortillas. But, I do hang out and look at the masa harina in the Hispanic section of the grocery store. One of these days. . . .

  5. We’re into making tortillas at our house too! And also wary of GMO corn. Unfortunately, all the Mexican grocery masa harina we’ve found is conventional (and most likely GMO), but at the gringo health food store, we can find organic, non-GMO.

    What do you all use to keep your tortillas from sticking to the press? We use parchment paper, but I’d prefer to use a non-disposable alternative if there is one that works . . .

  6. is there any way to get around using a tortilla press to make these? i make wheat tortillas and roll them out by hand, but i’ve never tried corn because i’ve heard the press is indispensable. what are your thoughts? i’m just not sure where i’d track down a tortilla press in my neck of the woods. although if your people in the know recommend wood i suppose a person could make one if he or she were feeling crafty…

  7. I used to use a tortilla press but in all the video I see of native senoras making tortillas they roll them out or if they’re really good, slap them flat between their hands.

    I did find that when I started to roll them out I had an easier time of it, so I ditched the press.

    What you want to do is take a one gallon freezer bag and slit it down both sides so that you can open it up and roll your ball of tortilla dough inside it. Then peel off one side of it, drop the raw tortilla in your hand, peel off the other side, and then drop the tortilla on your comal, in my case, griddle pan. The altered freezer bag is sturdy, easy to wash and easy to store. I have four that I keep on hand for rolling out pie crust, and I also reuse them for pounding out cutlets and chicken breasts.

    But I agree that homemade tortillas are the way to go- they taste better and you can make as many as you need, instead of having a half-empty package of tortillas getting all weird in the fridge.

    Hechas a mano is the way to go.

  8. Pingback: 003-Cooking From Scratch, Tortillas, Fencing and Listenter Questions | Root Simple

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