July 4

Can You Freeze Tortillas? Yes, Here’s How

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One of the most commonly forgotten-about items in the pantry, tortillas are notorious for getting moldy. It isn't that we don't love tortillas, but that we're dealt such a large quantity at a time. So the question becomes:

Should you freeze torillas? Is it worth it? When is it too late?

Yes, of course you can freeze tortillas. But each variety will have its own freezing procedure to ensure optimal texture and flavor preservation. Don't worry, we've laid out the facts for each type of tortilla. Before you make the leap to freezing, make sure freezing your tortillas is the best option for your situation. We've provided some precautions below. 

Enjoy!


Should You Freeze Tortillas?


It really depends on what your goal is. If you have some authentic, home-made tortillas that you want to keep fresh, we actually don't recommend freezing them. While freezing will help prolong the period before mold or bacterial growth, it ultimately degrades texture and flavor no matter how you go about it.

But...

If you have some store bought tortillas that you'd like to use down the road, and slight texture/flavor degradation isn't of huge concern, freezing tortillas is totally practical. Follow the steps below for best results. 

If your tortillas are already showing signs of mold or bacterial growth, DO NOT FREEZE THEM. They are already compromised and freezing them will only prolong the inevitable. If you see signs of degradation, throw them out. It's not worth the flavor loss or safety concerns.

How to Freeze Tortillas Properly


Take the time to freeze them right and your tortillas will be as close to fresh as possible. Follow these steps closely to make storing, freezing and thawing your tortillas a piece of cake.

Flour Tortillas

Flour tortillas are usually made from some variation of flour, salt and lard. All of these ingredients hold up well in the freezer, so that isn't an issue. The real issue people experience is storing them properly in the freezer to make thawing easier.

Depending on the ingredients used, flour tortillas can easily become stuck together. Freezing can exacerbate this effect and make separation a sticky mess.

To avoid this happening, follow these steps:

1) Take your flour tortillas and place individual squares of wax paper or parchment paper between each one. (Caution: this can become a huge chore if you have lot of tortillas. If that be the case, place parchment paper only under the tortillas near the bottom. These are most prone to sticking together due to the large weight exerted on them).

2) Place the stack of tortillas in a sealed, freezer safe bag (make sure to create stacks that resemble the amount you will want to take out at one time).

3)  Label them with the current date, and also the date you expect them to go bad (6 months or so). Do Not place anything on top of this bag. Keep it isolated to ensure no structural damage. 

4) Two Days before you start running out of your current (non-frozen tortillas), take these out of the freezer and begin the thawing process (detailed below).

Quick Tutorial:

Corn Tortillas

Corn tortillas are primarily made of masa (or ground corn). Some commercial variations will have other ingredients for preservation, but this usually isn't a concern. 

1) Sticking together isn't as common with corn tortillas, but if you want to take an extra precaution, you can use the same wax paper method described above

3) Place the stack of tortillas in a sealed, freezer-safe bag. Press as much oxygen out as possible. Label them with the date, and the date you expect them to go bad (6 months or so). Do Not place anything ontop of this bag. Keep it isolated to ensure no structural damage. 

4) Two Days before you start running out of your current (non-frozen tortillas), take these out of the freezer and begin the thawing process (detailed below).

Raw (uncooked) Flour Tortillas

If you've ever made homemade flour tortillas, you know how incredibly fragile they can be prior to cooking. For this reason, we recommend placing parchment paper between each tortilla before freezing.

1) Take your tortillas and individually place squares of wax paper or parchment paper between each one.

2) Place the stack of tortillas in a sealed, freezer-safe bag. Label them with the date, and the date you expect them to go bad (6 months or so). Do Not place anything on top of this bag. Keep it isolated to ensure no structural damage. 

3) Two Days before you start running out of your current (non-frozen tortillas), take these out of the freezer and begin the proper thawing process (detailed below).

How to Thaw Tortillas Properly


Thawing is an extremely simple process. Since tortillas are usually "pantry-safe," bacterial contamination is much less likely. Here are a few different methods to thaw your tortillas.

The Plan Ahead Strategy

The best way to thaw tortillas is slowly in the refrigerator. If you happen to notice your current (nonfrozen) tortillas dwindling, it's time to put your frozen stack in the fridge. Depending on the size of the stack, this can take from 1-2 days

Once defrosted, you can choose to do with the tortillas what you will. Put them in the pantry or leave them in the fridge. Whichever you prefer. 

Corn tortillas can dry out pretty drastically in the freezer. Once you take them out of the refrigerator, cover them with a tiny layer of water. You can do this with a spray bottle or damp paper towel. Give them a couple minutes to absorb the water, and add more if need be. 

The Day-Of Strategy

If you're on a time crunch and need the tortillas thawed ASAP, you can leave them out at room temperature. We always recommend a slow, controlled defrost, but the textural changes are marginal when it comes to tortillas. Just make sure to keep an eye on the tortillas over time. Keeping them at room temperature will cause them to deteriorate at a more rapid rate.

Frequently Asked Questions...


If we didn't completely answer your question above, here are some of the common questions regarding tortilla preservation

1) How Long Can You Freeze Flour Tortillas?

The expiration date will vary with the ingredients and manufacturing process, but flour tortillas can last up to 6 months in the freezer. Tortillas are relatviely stable at room temperature, so freezing can lengthen the time of expiration significantly. After you thaw them out, make sure and look for any signs of contamination; molds, discoloration, off-smells, etc...

2) Can You Refreeze Tortillas?

We never recommend refreezing anything. Too many drastic changes in temperature can ultimately lead to unappealing flavor and textural changes. It can also increase the chance of contamination. 

3) Can You Freeze Tortilla Chips?

Absolutely! Put them in a freezer safe bag and freeze away. Make sure and press as much oxygen out as possible before freezing. 

Concluding


Tortillas are a pantry staple. Keeping them safe and fresh is an important part of creating flavorful dishes. Again, we only recommend freezing them if quality isn't of the utmost importance. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to leave a comment below.

Cheers,

Michael

Founder of Robust Kitchen 


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About the author

Michael spends his days eating, drinking and studying the fascinating world of food. He received his Bachelors Degree in Food Science and Technology at the University of California, Davis and spent much of his time at the school brewery. While school proved to be an invaluable experience, his true passion lies in exposing the hidden crannies of food for the cooking laymen.

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