Tortillas are so versatile. I thought it would be fun to try and make my own homemade tortillas so I ordered a tortilla press.
I’m always thinking about how I could make my life easier during a long term emergency situation. We love bread and I use to make a lot of it when my kids were little. Not so much in recent years. It’s a great energy source and meal extender during lean times. But what if you couldn’t buy bread anymore? Where would you get the yeast to make your own? By the way, I looked up how to make yeast from scratch. It takes a looooog time to make. If it was my only choice, I would make it happen or fall back on quick breads. But I want to plan for easy, during emergency times when my life would most likely be chaotic. That’s how I came up with the idea of making tortillas as a substitute for bread.
Tortillas require no yeast. That’s one hassle gone. With a tortilla press, you don’t need a floured work space or rolling pin, and they all come out a uniform size and thickness. You can do a hundred things with tortillas. The recipe I used is from allrecipes.com.
This is their recipe. I have modified it and have explained my changes further down this post.
4 cups four
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 Tab lard
1 1/2 c. water
Makes 24 tortillas
Whisk the dry ingredients together. Mix in the lard with your fingers till it resembles corn meal. Add the water and mix until the dough comes together and then place on a lightly floured surface. Knead for a few minutes until smooth and elastic. Divide into 24 pieces. Roll out each piece to 8 inches.
I halved the recipe because I didn’t know how it was going to turn out and didn’t want to throw a ton of stuff away if it didn’t.
I cheated and used my kitchen aid mixer instead of mixing and kneading by hand. I know this would not be an option if the grid went down but it is not a deal breaker.
The preamble of the recipe clearly states you should only use lard and not vegetable oil or shortening. I did. I used Crisco (gag) because you can find it anywhere and doesn’t go rancid although it does have a 2 year shelf life. Not sure what happens to it after 2 years but at least it’s a reasonable item to stock up on in lieu of other limited fats.
While these were good reasons to choose Crisco, my real reason was I didn’t have a clue where to buy lard. Never bought it before and never saw it at the grocery store. But then again, I never looked for it. I have since found out you can buy lard at most Hispanic grocery stores as well as in the Hispanic section of many grocery stores and online.
Lard does have a shorter shelf life than Crisco. It can sit on your counter at room temperature (as long as the room doesn’t get blazing hot) for 4-6 months. It will keep in a sealed container in your fridge for 1 year and in your freezer for 3 years. In lieu of refrigeration, you have a 6 month max shelf life. I will most likely try lard next time and do a comparison.
Baking powder has a 2 year shelf life so would not store more than 2 years worth, factoring in how many tortillas your family would eat, replacing bread. I have tried using old baking powder. It doesn’t work.
Making the tortillas
I divided the dough into 12 portions and rolled each into a ball. You can put them right on the tortilla press as it is pre-seasoned but as suggested in the press directions, you can cut parchment paper as I did or purchase precut 8 inch rounds of parchment paper.
I set one parchment sheet on the press, set the dough ball a little offset onto the parchment paper and laid another sheet of parchment paper on top. I pressed the bar down with very little presser, and Presto-Chango! Within literally 2 seconds, I had a perfect tortilla! Just slide it off the press onto a plate and was ready for the next one!
I cooked one up in my Lodge cast iron skillet and was most impressed. I froze the others keeping the parchment paper between them.
I’m currently in Wisconsin taking care of my wonderful 97 year old Mother-in-law but will be home in a few days. Thoughts of breakfast burritos are making my mouth water. Daughter Deep Faith and her 2 children will be visiting from Arizona the day after I get home. I’m planning an afternoon of tortilla making with the grand kids. I’ll send them out to the garden to pick fresh lemon thyme and sage for some herb tortillas. Have them chop up some fresh basil and garlic for some pesto tortillas. We’ll make spinach tortillas, sun dried tomato tortillas and even explore some sweet variations in addition to the savory. The choices are many. The uses are near finite. I’m loving my tortilla press!
PS…I’m thinking about getting a 10 inch press as well. Bigger is better, right?