When I informed my husband that I was done buying tortillas at the store since I can easily make my own for way cheaper at home, he gave me a “my wife is the coolest” look and a high five. What I didn’t tell him is that I never made my own tortillas. In fact, having been a wild child in a small farming community in Eastern Europe, the first time I even had a burrito was when I came to the US. So I am still a newbie to cooking Mexican cuisine. Last week I put frozen peas in chili… it was an accident I swear! I even tried to pick them out before I handed my husband his bowl but he noticed and he’s been making fun of me since.
So I went to the store and, for just a couple bucks, bought Masa Harina, which means “flour dough” in Spanish. Since I developed a sensitivity to gluten we’ve been buying sprouted corn tortillas, but they cost about 6 bucks for 12. Kind of steep when you’re on a tight budget, plus they still have ingredients I’m not crazy about. The Masa Harina, on the other hand, is simply corn that has been dried, cooked, and soaked in lime water, and then ground.
Short History lesson
The ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations developed the process of pre-digesting corn by soaking it in lime water before eating it. In the fifteenth century Columbus brought back corn to Europe when he returned, but he forgot to say anything about this ancient cooking method. Incidentally, the western world was plagued by Pellagra for centuries until doctors in the 20th century discovered that the disease was caused by B3 deficiency. Soaking corn in lime water releases B 3vitamins, increases calcium quality, and reduces both phytic acid and mycotoxins like mold, by a process called nixtamalization (source). If only the explorers were more in interested in learning the wisdom of these uncontacted cultures, than plundering them…
So, I am thrilled that this corn flour is already soaked in lime water and ready for me to simply add water and salt. This recipe is NOT mine – its the recipe from the back of this bag of Bob’s Red Mill. But I thought it might help to demonstrate it and convince you how easy it it to make homemade tortillas 🙂
- 2 cups of masa harina corn flour, find it here
- 1 tsp of salt
- 1 1/2 – cups of hot water
I know, right? This ingredient list is going to break your bank 😉
Makes 12 tortillas.
Part I: The Dough
1. Start by placing about a 1/2 cup of masa harina in a bowl along with a teaspoon of salt . Save the other 1/2 cup of masa to add at the end.
2. Slowly pour the hot water into the dough.
3. Start mixing it with a spoon first.
4. Once it gets thick enough, start to knead it with your hands. If its too sticky, add more flour. You want it to be firm.
This is how the end product should look.
Part II: The Tortillas.
Now if you don’t want to make all of the tortillas, not a problem, just stick the dough in the freezer for later.
1. Divide the dough into 2 inch balls.
2. Roll out each dough ball individually between two pieces of wax paper. Or, if you have a tortilla press ( lucky!), flatten according to the directions. This is the cast iron tortilla press I put on my wish list!
Here it is! Beautiful! You can try making yours more round. I was kind of impatient.
3. Bust out well seasoned cast iron pan, and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook the tortillas once each side. Flip when the top side starts to look almost cooked (about 1 minute) then flip to the other side. Depending on how well seasoned your skillet is, you may need to use butter to prevent them from sticking.
Here is the end product. They should be cooked through but not burnt, and moist but not gummy.
We used these tortillas to make delicious sweet and spicy carnitas tacos.
Mmmm soo good!
Here is the recipe.