Thursday, June 26, 2014

I made my own tortillas!

Yay! More crappy pictures taken with my crappy old standby phone or the crappy camera in my ancient iPod!*

Since I went GF, I've basically replaced almost all the bread in my diet with corn tortillas. I eat almost any *-salad--tuna salad, chicken salad, egg salad--as a taco, basically, and anything I don't put over rice winds up in a tortilla. Recent examples: steak-sandwich tortilla rollups, sweet-chili tuna and veggie "tacos", peanutbutter and / or nutella roll-ups. Basically, anything that would go on bread is now on tortillas. 

This means that I go through packs of them pretty quickly. Which means I don't spend any more money on them then I really have to. Which means most of the ones I get are passable, bought because they cost less and give more more, but not great. And once in a while, they're downright gross.

And then my friend Sy posted some pics on her Instagram of making her own tortillas and I was like "I can totally do that, I bet, and for cheaper than buying those plastic-tasting things!". Because #DIY4Lyfe.

Did you know that the hispanic food section of our Target here is a joke? Because I was surprised. I found the masa harina** at Food Lion, which has an impressive ethnic food isle.

Here's the recipe, exactly the same everywhere I looked:

1c masa harina
3/4 - 1c hot water
pinch - 1tps salt

And here's what I did, which I forgot to take pictures of the early steps of:

  • Plunk the masa and the salt in a bowl. I used yellow corn masa, as you can clearly see, and pink himalayan salt, because I picked some up at the flea market and it tastes SO MUCH BETTER than table salt. I figured since it's the only seasoning, I'd use the good stuff. 
    • Point of order: I actually forgot the salt until after I'd added the water, so I threw it in then, and it didn't seem to matter to the finished product.
  • Add the water. I mixed in the 3/4c first and stirred it all up, and then dribbled in the rest around the edges so make sure it was moist all over.
  • Cover it and let it sit for 30-60 mins. I made it about 45, and it was fine. 
  • Ball it up. It's supposed to have about the texture of play-doh, according to more than one site, so I had to add a little more water again; our house runs dry because mom needs low humidity for her lungs. Your mileage may vary.
  • Squish and re-ball it some to be sure everything is evenly mixed and there's not air pockets or anything.
  • Patty-up the ball, divide it in 8, ball up the wedges. There's a pic for this one!

  • Flatten the balls. I did it this way: I cut the edges on a ziplock bag so that I had a sort of open-able thing, made the ball sort of into a patty and put it inside the plastic, closed the plastic over it, then mushed it with a plate, and evened it out with my hands. I'm going to get myself a tortilla-press to make this step MUCH EASIER, because it was the fussiest part of the whole thing.
  • While you're flattening the first one, heat a dry pan. Make sure it's way hot before you put the first tortilla in; my first one stuck real bad because it wasn't hot enough yet. Even stuck, though, it peeled up when it came to temp, and it tasted great--it was just ugly.
  • Cook like this:

  • Flip it when it starts getting that distinctive spotty look that means it's a tortilla for realsies. It takes a few minutes per side, so you have time to mash the next ball into a tortilla in the meantime.
  • Continue until you have all eight!

  • Mine came out perfect on one side and less perfect on the other, and crispy-ish when they came off, but softer later.
  • I immediately made a quesadilla because I was starved, but I ate them with chicken salad for dinner later, and they were just as delicious. 

These guys are a little time-consuming, but most of that is waiting for it to hydrate while it's covered. And even a little unevenly pressed and a little burned, they have much more corn flavor than storebought, a much nicer texture, and come with the satisfaction of making things with your own hands. Plus, the bag of masa costs only a little over the cost I was spending for a pack of premade tortillas, and I can make lots of tortillas out of it without having to buy more for a while!

They don't have preservatives, though. This makes 8, and I ate 8 in a day, but I don't think they'd last more than maybe another day or two before they started getting too dry or maybe moldy***, so this is a small-batch sort of recipe, not a bulk. I don't know if they freeze or anything; I didn't have leftovers to worry about it!


  • I think I'll try white corn ones later, and if I can ever get my hands on blue corn masa, maybe I'll splurge and try those, too.
  • I'm going to see what makes masa different from regular cornmeal, and see if I can make it on my own from the corn itself; I saw someone on Diners Drive-ins and Dives make their own, but missed the part where they said what makes it special, so I've got to research.
    • Also, that'll require a source of dry corn and my own grinder, neither of which I have, but it's the next level of tortilla-escalation.
  • Arepas, made of yet another variation of corn, are the next project!

Do you make tortillas? How do you like it?

*Hopefully this will be fixed in about a month and a half when the upgrade comes due and I can get a phone that isn't already broken.
**And the masarepa for arepas later on!
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