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Old 06-10-2013, 02:01 PM   #1
Assistant Cook
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Colorado
Posts: 2
Corn Tortilla Changes

Like most of you, I've been cooking for most of my life. I've always lived in the southwest, where mexican, tex-mex, and especially southwestern food has dominated the menu. Many recipes I have cooked for decades call for corn tortillas or corn masa. I've made corn tortillas on occasion, but mostly I've purchased them for my recipes. Store-bought corn tortillas used to be moist but firm and fragile. You couldn't roll them without breaking. You would have to briefly fry or griddle them in order to soften them up. This added a step to preparation that was a little time consuming, but turned out perfect enchiladas and bakes.

Here's what I've noticed. Starting about a decade ago, store-bought corn tortillas became softer and softer. For starters, they're very moist and floppy now. You can roll them without breaking. The texture is spongy, and very soft. Great, you're thinking... this saves a step of softening them myself, right? Just roll/layer and go! Unfortunately, what I've found is that they turn to mush in all of my old recipes. Any sauce or moisture in my baked recipes completely breaks down the tortillas. I have tried everything to get the texture back like they used to be. Frying in oil, searing them on a griddle, dipping them in oil, letting them dry out before using, baking without sauce. Nothing seems to work, they all just turn to mush as soon as they're cooked.

I've concluded that tortilla manufacturers have altered all their process to use ultra soft corn masa in order to appeal to consumer's convenience preferences for ready-to-eat and no-bake recipes. I guess nowadays, softer is better. Sadly, I can't get the new tortillas to work in my old recipes and I can't find suitable "old-style" tortillas.

My question is this. Are there any southwestern cooks out there who (short of telling me to cook my own tortillas) have tips, preferred brands, ideas, etc., for me? Thanks very much in advance.


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Old 06-10-2013, 05:46 PM   #2
Executive Chef
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Ohio
Posts: 3,899
Hi Bat .. welcome to DC

I understand what you are talking about. Over the weekend I made chicken enchiladas.

I purposely made them different than normal because last time they came all all mushy.

It didn't matter .. still mushed.

Like you - I prefer the old style, stiffer corn tortillas. I've also noticed that flavor is not near as strong and tasty these days.

I don't mind if they want to alter, but they should really leave the old tried and true that made them rich alone !

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Old 06-10-2013, 07:19 PM   #3
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Newport News, VA
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Do you have any ethnic stores in your area? You might try one of them if you do to see if they have what you are looking for.
I could give up chocolate but I'm no quitter!
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Old 06-10-2013, 07:47 PM   #4
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Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: Colorado
Posts: 2
jabbur, yes there are several markets and tortillerias in surrounding towns. I occasionally buy ready-made tamale and flour tortillas there, but I've never tried their corn tortillas for my regular recipes. I guess mostly because it requires a detour from the supermarket. I'm going to make a special trip to see what I can find. Thanks for the idea and the welcome!
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Old 06-10-2013, 08:54 PM   #5
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Twin Cities Mn
Posts: 2,925
Hi, welcome,

Tortilla pkg ingreds should read masa harina, ( de hydrated water ) and maybe a pinch of salt. If anything else, like bituminous dehydrogenated long words, skip and go to another brand. I think my larger grocers have tortillas in 4 different areas of the store, the refrigerator section, in the Mexican aisle, the specials ( look for addíl out dates and bargains here) the chip and dip aisle and again, near the grated cheeses. Wait, thatí;s 5 places and we havenít even hit the freezer aisle. Not sure why mgmt has this fascination with spreading them all over. Found a big pkg once at the Dollar store, maybe 18, pretty good tortillas. Probably they carry them still, I donít shop there often. My best place, I am lucky, a tortilleria is close by, as are several Mexican markets. I just grab a pkg of what ever size I am in the mood for, and if I want regular or extra thins for doubling up on soft tacos.

Perhaps this may help. How to re heat/ make tortillas pliable. Room temp tortillas. Heat a dry skillet medium hot. Toss on a tortilla. When it puffs a little, after 15 seconds, flip it for another very few seconds. If for enchiladas, have filling ready and ladle it on the transferred tortillas across the middle in the baking dish. Roll and start the next tortilla. Ideally, the tortillas will puff a little and get brown around the edges and then itís time to flip. I like the brown side ( if any spots appear) up, since thatís the side that shows when cooked, not that it matters, since usually covered in sauce and cheese. I donít use a microwave or oil in a pan to soften tortillas. If they accidentally over cook, then itís cookís treat and you can make a tostada with the enchilada bits and leftovers while the casserole bubbles in the oven. You grated too much cheese anyway and thereís always salsa.

Not sure why tortillas are round. I think Square would be better, more even and smoother distribution when filling.
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