March 21, 2011 by Leah
Full disclosure: my grandparents lived in Mexico for a long time (my father was actually born there) and therefore I seem to have inherited a prejudice against flour tortillas. I’m not sure they should even be called tortillas. I mean, I loved the flour things in the same way I loved Doritos or Cool Whip. I got a lot of emotional satisfaction out of eating fluffy “foods” with no redeeming nutritional value for a good chunk of my life. And then I woke up one day weighing 223 pounds and came to my senses. After two years of therapy.
Anyway, back to tortillas. I was sitting in my in-laws’ kitchen last summer when my sister-in-law Megan pulled out a bizarre looking contraption from under the counter, a griddle, some saran wrap, mixed some masa harina with water, and set to making tortillas for her supper that night. The contraption was a tortilla press. I knew I had to try this.
After much poking around on the internet, I have come up with a method that seems to work for us (sans tortilla press). I first found masa harina (a corn flour where dried corn kernels are cooked and soaked in lime water and then ground into flour – an ancient process which just happens to neutralize the phytates in the grain) at Whole Foods, then in the section of our local health food store, Vitamin City, that seems to be entirely dedicated to Bob’s Red Mill products.
The next step, of course, will be making the masa myself from scratch (a process outlined in loving detail by Cheeseslave, a blogger I follow not-quite slavishly, in three posts starting with this one). For now, though, I can get a 24 oz. bag of Bob’s masa for $2.99, which means that the cup of masa I use to make the tortillas (with some water and a little bit of salt) costs $.50. Fifty cents turns into enough piping hot tortillas – say six to eight – that my taco devotee husband and myself can make a meal of them. Sometimes there are even leftovers.
At Albertson’s I would buy something like Mission corn tortillas. $2.09 for 30. That’s 7 cents per tortilla, whereas the homemade are 8 cents per tortilla. Plus, whenever I bought the bag of 30 tortillas, they would seemingly last forever in the fridge, but even so I never managed to use them all.
About that lasting in the fridge? Here’s the ingredient list:
Ground Corn Treated with Lime, Water, Cellulose Gum, Propionic Acid (to preserve freshness), Benzoic Acid (to preserve freshness), Phosphoric Acid (preservative), Dextrose, Guar Gum, Amylase.
My ingredient list again? Masa harina (aka ground corn treated with lime water), water, salt if I remember. The homemade taste FAR better, don’t have preservatives or binding agents, and are only 1 cent per tortilla more expensive than store bought. Homemade all the way on this one.