Have you ever wondered whether tortillas go bad?
It’s a question most people tend to overlook since, let’s face it, there is no such thing as too many tortillas.
Tortillas are normally brought in bulk, and the lack of an expiration date on the packaging makes it hard to tell if they do ever go bad unless you end up with a bad stomach or at the ER with a terrible case of food poisoning as shown in this video.
Wouldn’t it be helpful if you knew if and when tortillas go bad? This post will address your lifelong curious question and help calm you down.
So What Are Tortillas?
WiseGeek mentions this Mexican cuisine consists of a thin piece of unleavened bread that is made of refined, finely ground corn or wheat flour, water, and salt. Although tortillas can be made using different colors, white and yellow tortillas are the most common in America.
Corn tortillas are used to make multiple dishes which fall in the all-time favorite category for most of the people.
They are used in tacos, flautas, quesadillas, tostadas, chalupas, enfrijoladas, gorditas, sincronizadas, chilaquiles, enchiladas and tortilla soups. Roasted corn tortillas are also used to compliment stews and grilled meats.
Wheat tortillas, on the other hand, are used to make burritos and quesadillas, which you will find in almost every corner of America.
A lot of people also enjoy making chips out of corn tortillas by deep frying them and adding salt. You can accompany these chips with different types of dips for the best result. They are also the main component used in making nachos.
The traditional tortilla is made of maize corn. You cure the maize in limewater to release vitamins. This allows the skin of the corn kernels to gently peel off.
Once the maize corn has been ground, cooked and kneaded into dough, it is pressed to form a flat patty. Cooking it in a hot, flat American griddle is the last step.
In olden times, tortillas were not of the same shape, so there was no dexterity in the presentation. However, with multiple developments through the decades, there is now a tortilla-making machine that makes them into uniform, thin pieces of bread without any form of human effort.
While the basic foundation of tortillas is the same, they are made a little differently in places like South America where they are called ‘arepas’ and are a thicker version of the tortillas we know.
Do Tortillas Go Bad? If So, How Long Do They Last?
Every eatable ever made has a shelf life, and no situation can defy that logic. Similarly, contrary to popular belief, tortillas too go bad. Of course, if you store them carefully in an ideal place, they will last longer, saving you a trip to the grocery store.
The ideal place to store tortillas is a dry, cool place such as a freezer. Any moisture spoils the tortilla by making mold grow on it. People normally store tortillas in three common places – fridges, pantries, and countertops.
EatByDate says unopened flour, whole wheat, and spinach tortillas last one week on the countertop, 3-4 months in the refrigerator and 6-8 months in the freezer. Similarly, unopened corn tortillas last 7-10 days on the countertop, 6-8 days in the refrigerator and 6-8 months in the freezer. Lastly, homemade tortillas last barely 2-3 days on the countertop, 5-7 days in the refrigerator and 6-8 months in the freezer.
Even though most tortilla packs mention the ‘best by’ date, it is not an expiry date. It is simply the date that the manufacturer is certain of the tortilla’s quality, so that the company may not be held accountable. You can eat them after the best by date only if you store them smartly.
In times of emergencies, you can re-heat your stashed tortilla. Simply pop it in the microwave in case you are in a hurry, toast it in a pan to eat it crispy, or use a steamer pot.
How to Tell if the Tortillas Have Gone Bad?
Since tortillas are the kind of snacks that you throw into the fridge for the next time you feel like munching on them, it is easy to forget that they too have an expiry date. By the looks of it, it can be tricky to distinguish between a rotten tortilla and a perfectly eatable one.
Even though they may seem rusty, you should definitely rely on your senses to make these judgment calls. If you think something looks bad or smells bad, automatically ditch it and turn to a new alternative.
After all, better safe than sorry, right?
Different tortillas have different shelf lives. This depends on the preservatives companies use in their products to make them last longer. Hence, do not ever judge a tortilla pack’s expiry based on your previous experience.
As tortillas get old, they begin to crunch up and stiffen bit by bit. However, this does not indicate that it is time to throw them away. It just means that they are no longer as fresh as they might have been a week ago.
However, if you see the tortillas developing spots of mold, it is time to throw out the whole packet as eating them would only cause a quick trip to the hospital.
Once the tortillas have gone rancid, they might also change color and texture. This is the most dangerous form of bad tortillas as it clearly shows that they are rotting. Do not hesitate to dump these the first chance you get.
It is utterly important to practice health safety on any food that you eat. It is unsafe to scrape the mold off the bread and eat it as micro-organisms cannot be seen and they are probably multiplying by the second, proving to be even more dangerous for consumption.
How to Store Tortillas?
Storing tortillas is integral if you want to keep them fresh for a longer amount of time. Half of their freshness depends on your level of commitment to keep them stashed away appropriately.
The one thing that is deadly for tortillas is any form of moisture. You must store them in a cool, dry environment so that no form of condensation and water droplets touch them. It is important that the place you store your tortillas in is not susceptible to temperature changes.
The above statement means that you should not switch the tortillas to a cool environment only to switch them back to a warm environment. This would cause condensation to line up on the packaging, eventually seeping through into the tortillas. The moisture encourages mold to grow, spoiling the tortillas and making them unfit to eat.
Keep in mind that if you store the tortillas in a freezer, while ideal, it must not be opened too often as that would cause heat to enter and melt the tortillas, again causing them to spoil. Keep the freezer shut at all times so that there is no risk of mold developing on the sides of the tortilla.
According to EatByDate, homemade tortillas can be stored at below 40 degrees in your refrigerator after they have been prepared. Since these will not have preservatives added to them, they must be taken extra care of and stored properly.
You should store the tortillas in an airtight container. It would not allow air to enter the containers and spoil the tortillas by making them stale.
You can also put them in an airtight zip-lock bag so that the tortillas do not get hard and unfit for eating. The zip-lock would provide an added function of moving the tortilla chips in and out the bag.
Based on the above information, it is sadly safe to say that tortillas, too, go bad. They are exactly like other food products that have an expiry date and if consumed once bad, they will cause serious health issues that no individual will want to go through.
Even though you can prolong their shelf life through proper storage methods, it is integral to know what kind of tortillas you are using and the kind of environments they stay fresh under.
We hope this article helped you curb your tortilla cravings appropriately and throw them away when your gut tells you they are close to being rotten.