Everybody loves tortillas. Tortillas are a popular staple item for all ages. It is a flatbread of Mexican origin that accompanies most Mexican dishes. The popularity of Mexican food has led to a huge demand for tortillas across households the world over. Yet, if tortillas go bad, you should know how to tell and discard them in time before you and your kids end up eating them.
Tortillas are used for so many mouth-watering recipes. We use them for burritos, enchiladas, migas, tacos, chilaquiles, quesadillas, fajitas, and much more. With such extensive use of tortillas, it makes sense for us to have a bulk supply of tortillas in our kitchens. The trouble arises, when after some time, the unused part of our stocked supply goes bad.
Most tortillas come with a best-by date — the expiration date — mentioned on the packing. This date is only to be used as a guide. The actual expiration depends on factors like the humidity level, storage method, and the actual storage atmosphere. Generally, tortillas may last up to 1 month when refrigerated and up to 8 months in the freezer.
In this article, we’ll find out if and when different types of tortillas go bad, as well as how long do tortillas last. We’ll also mention the other storage methods available to you and the best ways of extending the life of tortillas.
What Are Tortillas?
A tortilla is a thin, round-shaped, unleavened Mexican bread baked on a flat iron or earthenware surface. The popularity of the main ingredient used for its preparation is location-based. In Mexico and Central American countries, they use either cornmeal, finely ground maize, corn, or wheat flour.
South Americans like to call their tortillas “arepas,” a far thicker form of the typical tortilla made in other countries. The other two common ingredients used in making tortillas are water and a pinch of salt.
The most common tortillas are corn tortillas, and flour tortillas are typically served hot with a filling or a topping. Tortillas are versatile flatbread as their mild flavor compliments just about anything. They can be either baked, fried, or made into crunchy chips.
Tortillas have several benefits, including that they are rich in fiber content and calcium and low in calories. Tortillas are an excellent source of energy as they are rich in carbohydrates and have no sugar.
How Long Do Tortillas Last?
All edible food items eventually go bad. Tortillas are no different from that norm. The best way to preserve them for a maximum period is by properly storing them. This means their quality should be preserved by keeping them sealed against heat and moisture.
Tortillas bought at a store contain the best type of packing, to begin with. It’s recommended that packing — the manufacturer’s seal — be respected as the best form of the seal and not be opened prematurely. It should only be opened when it’s time to consume the tortillas or if you’re freezing them for a long time.
Moisture can lead to mold formation, and exposure to air can make the tortillas dry out and stale. For this reason, once opened, you should repack your tortillas in an airtight bag so that they’re not exposed to humidity and temperature changes.
How long your tortillas will last once they pass their expiration date depends on the method of storage. You may have stored them in a refrigerator, pantry, or freezer. The implication of each type of storage is unique to the final expiration of the tortillas.
Here’s a quick comparison of how long unopened tortillas should last under different storage conditions, assuming it’s spinach, whole wheat, and flour tortillas:
Unopened tortillas storage method: Period past the expiry date:
Spinach, Whole Wheat, & Flour Tortillas
As seen above, unopened spinach, whole-wheat, and flour tortillas stored in a freezer will last 6 to 8 months past their expiry date instead of only a week in pantry storage or 3 to 4 weeks in a refrigerated state.
On the other hand, unopened corn tortillas and homemade tortillas will last as follows when in unopened condition:
Unopened tortillas storage method: Period past the expiry date:
|Corn Tortillas||Homemade Tortillas|
|Refrigerator||6-8 Weeks||5-7 Days|
|Pantry||7-10 Days||2-3 Days|
|Freezer||6-8 Months||6-8 Months|
How Do You Know When Your Tortillas Have Gone Bad?
Usually, tortillas begin to get stiffer as they’re getting old. Using your senses, you will be able to tell if your bag of tortillas has gone bad. Corn tortillas give more prominent signs as they begin to smell bad once they’ve become rotten. To check, simply stick your nose into the bag to notice any odor. If you smell mold (a musty tang smell), you’ll likely also see a discoloration to confirm it’s mold.
If your senses of smell and vision tell you there is no foul smell nor mold, it’s safe to eat the tortillas. Yet, our taste buds can often do what our other senses fail at detecting, so it won’t hurt to try tasting an extremely small piece of the tortilla to confirm whether it tastes rotten, with a dirty flavor of mold.
Once you can confirm there are spots of mold (blue-green, sometimes white), you should immediately throw away that entire lot of tortillas into the bin.
Perplexed how your tortillas expired to your surprise? It’s either because you left them in storage for way too long, or moisture got its way into the pack. The good news is, by following proper food hygiene and safety techniques, you could make your tortillas last longer than their stipulated expiry date.
Tips To Extend Tortillas Life
When it comes to extending the shelf life of any edible item, proper storage holds the key to success. By refrigerating the tortillas, you’ll end up granting them a longer shelf life than printed on the use-by date on the original packing. By freezing them, you’re further increasing the shelf life. By freezing them, though the tortillas’ texture will change a bit, the taste remains the same.
Here are the main pointers for storage:
- Wrap them well as they need to be protected from getting dry by the cold air.
- Store in a cool and dry environment, ensuring moisture doesn’t develop.
- Sometimes the original packaging isn’t efficient enough; you need to use aluminum foil or a freezer bag to ensure they’re packed airtight.
- To defrost them, thaw them at a gradual pace overnight. Take them out of the fridge only a few minutes before you need them for consumption.
- There shouldn’t be any temperature fluctuations within the place of storage. Temperature variations will lead to moisture developing in the pack of tortillas, which will cause spots of molds to grow.
- Keep the storage consistent as it was in the store where you purchased them. For instance, if they were refrigerated when you bought them, keep them at a similar temperature storage space.
- Read the storage instructions on the packet of tortillas if that’s not available. Please keep them in a refrigerator anyway since tortillas are known to stay fresh in cool temperatures.
Tips On Freezing Tortillas For An Extended period
When it comes to storing store-bought tortillas, the rule of thumb is to follow the storage instructions on the label. In case it says you shouldn’t freeze the particular pack of tortillas, then don’t. If there is no such instruction, there’s no harm in freezing your tortillas.
You should also expect the texture of the tortillas to change after it goes through the freezing process. This won’t be a cause for concern regarding the freshness and safe consumption of the tortillas when they’re later thawed and used. The secret to properly freezing the tortillas is to keep the cold air away from them to ensure they don’t dry out and become stale.
Use aluminum foil or a freezer bag to keep them fresh in the freezer. When freezing tortillas, it’s recommended you replace the original packaging with aluminum foil or a freezer bag. More often than not, the original packing is not sufficient in blocking the cold air from entering the tortillas.
If you usually consume 4, 5, or 6, etc., tortillas at a time, it’s better to pack them in sets of that many. This way, you won’t have to expose the rest of the tortillas to a temperature variation each time you require tortillas for consumption. The aluminum foil should be used for properly wrapping the tortillas, sealing every end entirely so that no air goes inside.
Taking the tortillas out of the freezer 25 to 30 minutes before you need them is good practice in thawing them and heating them for consumption before any adverse effects happen due to exposure to air and humidity.
The time a pack of tortillas lasts depends on how you store it (opened or unopened) and the method of storage (refrigerator, pantry, or freezer). Unopened packs can be stored as it is. If the pack has been opened, for best results, simply wrap it tightly in aluminum foil or keep it in an airtight container or a freezer bag, keeping moisture and air at bay. A great option is to buy tortillas that come in a resealable packing.