Not all foods need to have structural integrity, sometimes it’s okay if food falls apart as you’re eating it. Corn tortillas are a super versatile food that is the basis of many traditional Mexican dishes.
Don’t you just hate it when you’ve got all the fillings for your corn tortilla, you wrap it up nicely and it breaks?!
You’re left with food falling out of it, sauce dripping down your arm, and none of it in your mouth.
If you find this keeps happening to you and you want to know how to stop this messy inconvenience, then we’ve got you covered! In this article, we will teach you how to keep your corn tortilla from breaking.
What Are Corn Tortillas?
When you think of a tortilla, you might think of the version made from flour that we use to make wraps and Tex-Mex food items.
Corn tortillas, as the name suggests, are made primarily from corn whereas flour tortillas are made from wheat.
Corn tortillas have slightly yellow coloring and are typically smaller than their flour counterparts. This coloring comes from the Masa Harina which is a finely ground corn flour mixed with lime.
Traditionally, corn tortillas are used to make tacos and other tasty Mexican dishes. They are also just as easy to make as flour tortillas if you have the correct ingredients.
One of the benefits of choosing a corn tortilla is that it is a healthier option than a flour version.
Corn tortillas have fewer carbohydrates, less fat, and a lot more fiber in them as they are whole-grain food. They also contain higher quantities of vitamins than those made with wheat.
Use Fresh Tortillas
Stale tortillas are a common cause of breakage, they need to remain fresh in order to be flexible enough to contain the fillings without breaking.
When corn tortillas are a few days old, they start to harden around the edges which inhibits the flexibility of the food.
To keep your tortillas as fresh as possible and avoid this happening to you, there are certain ways to store them.
Store them in a resealable bag such as a sandwich bag as soon as you’re done with them and make sure no air can get to them.
Ensure that they are then stored in a cool, dry place such as in the pantry or in a kitchen cabinet. If you’re looking to store tortillas for even longer, then you can refrigerate them.
This cool environment slows down the growth of mold and bacteria. Tortillas can last for up to two weeks in the refrigerator when stored properly.
Use Warm Tortillas
Do you find that your tortillas break, even when they are super fresh and you’ve just bought them?
Another great tip is keeping them warm as tortillas are more likely to break when they are colder and stiffer.
Popping them in the microwave for even 30 seconds before you try to roll them full of delicious fillings can make them significantly more flexible.
When heating in a microwave, you can place three to four tortillas onto a plate and cover them with a damp paper towel.
Heating them for 30 seconds at a time is fine, but overcooking them can make them harder.
Overcooking a few tortillas isn’t the end of the world, you could actually go a step further and use these to make chips!
Simply cut the hard tortilla using a pizza cutter into ‘slices’ and you’ve got the perfect accompaniment to your meal.
Microwaves aren’t the only way to heat up a corn tortilla, you can also use a grill or cast iron griddle to fry them on each side for about a minute.
If you’re making tacos, we would recommend using one of these methods as it creates a harder texture.
Use your stovetop or oven to heat tortillas for a more authentic taste, the most preferred method is over an open flame which is why using the stove is ideal.
No oil is needed for this method, simply heat on each side for around 20-30 seconds and wrap in foil until ready to serve.
All in all, whichever method you use will depend on the time and resources you have available to you whilst you’re cooking.
If you have the time to heat them on the stove, then this is your best shot at keeping that tortilla solid.
Use Moist Tortillas
As with keeping your tortillas fresh and warm, you also want to make sure that they are moist. The moisture helps to keep them flexible and easy to wrap.
Corn tortillas are susceptible to drying out even after a few days, especially when they’ve been left out of the packaging.
To prevent your tortillas from drying out, always store them as indicated.
If the tortillas have already started to dry out a little, don’t worry, using the damp paper towel method you can bring them back to life when heating them in the microwave.
Don’t Scrimp On The Sauce
Similarly to keeping the tortillas moist, you can use sauce to your advantage when it comes to avoiding breakages. Soaking tortillas in a sauce before you roll them is a great way to keep them moist.
However, this only works when you’re using them to cook dishes with a sauce such as enchiladas. This wouldn’t have the same effect with tortillas, as you want the shell to harden.
Not only does this add extra moisture, but it also enhances the flavor of the dish!
Dishes containing a lot of sauce also work to cover up any cracks that may appear in your tortillas when they have been rolled.
Tips Whilst Cooking
To achieve the best and most delicious results, you’ll want to leave heating your tortillas to the last minute.
Sometimes we have a tendency to put them on without realizing that there is still some cooking to do.
Heating the tortillas too early and not ensuring they remain warm means they could become brittle whilst you’re waiting which leads to more breakages.
Regardless of how you’ve heated your tortillas, keep them wrapped in foil or a damp paper towel, taking one at a time to add the fillings if you’re making something such as enchiladas.
Doing this will keep in the moisture and avoid any breakages.
If the tortillas are in foil, you can leave them in the bottom of the oven to remain heated but not too hot, especially if the oven has been turned off.
Why Do My Tortillas Break?
Corn tortillas can break for any number of reasons, but one of the main reasons is if the food is stale. Stale tortillas aren’t flexible and cannot withstand the pressure from the various fillings.
Using as fresh of a tortilla as possible is the best way to avoid a break, this could mean purchasing fresh from a tortilleria.
A tortilleria is a bakery that only makes fresh tortillas, but this may be difficult to find unless you’re living near a Mexican community.
Another option is to make them yourself! Of course, you’ll need the special ingredient, Masa Harina, which can be found in some well-stocked grocery stores or online retailers and is fairly inexpensive.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Is The Best Way To Heat Corn Tortillas For Tacos?
When making tacos for dinner, you’ll want to heat the tortillas to keep them flexible and easy to handle.
The best way to do this is to wrap however many tortillas you’re using in some aluminum foil and place them in the oven for around 10 minutes.
For best results, heat the oven to about 350℉. This will keep them nice and soft.
Why Do Store Bought Corn Tortillas Fall Apart?
Store-bought tortillas are not as fresh as homemade versions or those bought from a tortilleria.
They have been produced to have a longer shelf-life in the store, which means they aren’t as fresh and flexible. This leads to the tortillas falling apart.
Corn tortillas are delicious and versatile, but they can break easily if they aren’t kept in the proper conditions.
Luckily, there are a few simple things you can do to extend the shelf-life of your tortillas to avoid waste and create a wonderful meal.
We hope you found this information useful, helping you to keep your corn tortillas wonderfully fresh and hopefully unbroken.
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