Until very recently, I always bought Mission brand flour tortillas to make burritos or accompany a bowl of chili. That all changed, however, when I was introduced to Tortilla Land uncooked tortillas. They can be found in the refrigerator section of most grocery stores and come raw; they just need about a minute on a hot skillet to cook and the results are hot, fresh, puffy tortillas with minimal work involved. After using these wonder tortillas for a few months, I decided to make real homemade tortillas from scratch and see if I could tell the difference. I decided to add in a package of store bought Mission brand tortillas, warmed for a few minutes in the oven, to this comparison just to cover all the bases. I made a big pot of chili, set out platters of tortillas, gathered a few friends and the comparison began!
Homemade Flour Tortillas
I looked at about 10 different flour tortilla recipes and they all were fairly similar with one small difference: some used baking soda, some didn’t. I decided to dispense with the baking soda because I thought it might change the flavor of a recipe this simple with so few ingredients and the tortillas puffed up pretty nicely without it.
Makes 8 8-inch tortillas
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup shortening
- 2/3 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon salt
1. Measure the flour into a medium mixing bowl and add the shortening. Work the shortening into the flour with your fingers until the mixture resembles fine crumbs.
2. Dissolve the salt into the water, stirring for about 30 seconds to make sure it dissolves completely. Add the water to the flour mixture and stir with a fork just until moistened.
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 3 minutes or until the dough becomes slightly elastic. Divide the dough into 8 equal parts and let it rest, covered with a towel or plastic wrap, for 30 minutes to an hour.
4. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out one ball of dough to an 8 inch diameter. Cook the tortilla on a cast iron skillet over medium heat for about 1 minute on each side, or until they get puffy and lightly browned. Repeat with each piece of dough, placing cooked tortillas in the oven to stay warm.
As we sat down to test these tortillas a couple things soon became clear, the homemade tortillas were delicious and the store bought ones were far inferior. The store bought tortillas were dry and chewy and a couple of people commented that they had a “sour” or “bitter” undertone. The homemade tortillas, on the other hand had a more delicate texture and a simple, floury flavor. We weren’t sure, however, where to place the Tortilla Land tortillas that are bought raw and cooked at home. They didn’t have the great, warm floury taste of the homemade tortillas, but they were definitely better than store bought and had a nice, elastic texture. The Tortilla Land tortillas also had the advantage over store bought when we compared the ingredient lists. While the Mission flour tortillas had a whole paragraph of ingredients, most of them difficult to pronounce, the Tortilla Land tortillas only contained flour, salt and oil with no additives or preservatives. In the end, we decided that none of us would be buying store bought tortillas again, but would probably buy Tortilla Land if we were short on time or needed more elastic tortillas for making burritos or enchiladas. The homemade tortillas were great as an accompaniment to chili or by themselves, but they were a bit fragile for burritos and only taste good when very fresh making them hard to store for later. The time and cost comparison was difficult because the tortillas that took the most time (homemade) also cost the least and the ones that were most expensive (Mission brand) took the least work. The comparisons below are based on the cost and time for 8 8-inch tortillas.
Bottom Line: Homemade tortillas are a cheap, delicious choice to serve with chili, if you have a little time to spend making them. If you don’t mind spending a little extra and need a faster way to make tortillas, buying raw tortillas that can be cooked at home is a great alternative since they also taste good and take very little time to cook.
|Homemade Tortillas||Tortilla Land Tortillas||Mission Brand Tortillas|
|Cost: 75 Cents||Cost: $1.45||Cost: $2.39|
|Time: 45 minutes||Time: 10 minutes||Time: a few minutes to warm|