Iconic Mexican foods like burritos, enchiladas, and tacos are not burritos, enchiladas or tacos without tortillas. Tortillas work as a base in these dishes to fill up with your favorite stuffing. There are a plethora of other things you can do with tortillas, but that asks for a different discussion.
Tortillas are flat thin bread that are usually made from corn or wheat flour. There was a time when tortillas meant only corn tortillas. It is said that the Mayans and Aztecs used to eat corn tortillas thousands of years ago.
Now, tortillas have become an integral part of Latin American food culture. Popular dishes like burritos, tacos, and enchiladas use tortillas on a regular. Foods like nachos, lasagna, and even ice cream cones use tortillas more often than you would think.
The best thing about tortillas is that they are delicious and healthy at the same time. Healthy tortillas contain a lot of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and very little calories. But then again, the values change depending on the size of the tortilla and what grain is used to make it.
Heating Up Tortillas
The importance of tortillas now brings us to the topic of this article, how do you heat up tortillas and keep them soft at the same time?
Properly reheating tortillas requires a little bit of thinking and strategy. You cannot heat up tortillas in a similar way you heat up other food. It will ruin the color and strip the tortillas of their characteristics.
The ideal method to heat up your leftover or store-bought tortillas greatly depends on the type of the grain, the time of manufacturing, the elements added and the manufacturing process.
If you are used to taking your corn tortillas straight out from the box and start folding or wrapping, you have been doing it wrong. Not warming up any type of tortillas before eating is wrong.
Corn tortillas or corn flour tortillas are prone to cracking and lose the texture in a very short time. You cannot simply throw your corn tortillas in the microwave. You will do more harm than good if you do.
When people think about healthy tortillas, they think about corn tortillas. The key to heating up tortillas made from corn and keeping them soft is to use dry heat. Dry heat means you will use nothing while heating up the tortillas other than just heat.
If you prefer toasted tortillas, that is your choice. But corn tortillas are best served dry. There are basically two methods you can use to heat up your corn tortillas without ruining the traditional taste that they are known for.
- Using a Pan
- Open Flames
Both methods are great at keeping the texture of corn tortillas intact. All you are doing is reheating them and adding some colors to them.
Using a Pan
Fresh tortillas can be easily warmed up using a griddle or a cast iron skillet. The choice is yours. Preheat your pan at medium flame for a few minutes. Take a tortilla and place it on the pan or the skillet. Look out for the brown dots to show up.
The best way to heat up tortillas is not to heat for more than 30 seconds for each side. Then again, it all depends on what condition your tortillas are in. If they start to smell toasty, flip and continue. You are on the right path.
Don’t rush and put several tortillas at a time on the skillet. Take your time. You can keep your heated tortillas warm if you read till the end. Focus on each one, try to warm them evenly. It’s worth the wait.
If you do not have a cast iron skillet lying around, fear not. You can always use the open flames to directly heat up your tortillas. This method is also suitable if you are in a hurry and want to have a quick breakfast or lunch before going to work.
Mexicans use the open flame method to heat up their tortillas all the time. Corn tortillas stiff up really fast. So, a tortilla older than a day is going to hard and a simple mistake can shatter it into pieces.
It is advised to use a little moisture so you don’t burn the tortillas. Turn your gas burner to medium-low and throw one tortilla at a time. It will become brown fairly quickly, so you have to be very careful.
Make sure to use appropriate tongs before operating any of the above methods. It makes your life easier by flipping the tortillas and not accidentally burning yourself in the process.
Flour tortillas or wheat flour tortillas are more common in the northern states. The Mexicans like the traditional corn tortillas better. Flour tortillas are commonly found in restaurants and departmental stores.
The problem with flour tortillas is that they lose moisture over time. There are a few methods that will trap the moisture left and let you add some according to your liking. Warming up flour tortillas is relatively easy.
Microwaving is the best way if you want to heat up some tortillas Just stack up the tortillas. Wrap them with a towel or a cloth. Make sure to slightly dampen the towel or the cloth.
The idea is to microwave the tortillas until they heat up. Microwave for 30 seconds and take a pause. Repeat. Always use microwave compatible plates and avoid any metal.
Oven is a great option to heat up multiple stacks of tortillas if you have access to one. Preheat the oven to 250F ~ 350F. Stack up your tortillas and wrap them in aluminum foil.
Don’t forget to spray or brush water on each of the individual tortillas. Do not put more than 5-6 tortillas in one stack. If you need more, you can always make multiple stacks.
To preserve and add moisture, steaming is the best way to heat up tortillas. You will need a steamer basket. Just wrap 5-6 tortillas in a dampened towel and put it on the steamer basket.
Boil water in a pot and place the basket over it for 1 minute. You can now turn the gas off and let the tortillas steam for 15-20 minutes. The times will change depending on how soft you like them.
Use this method only if you like your tortillas to be toasted. This process allows you to heat up tortillas and toasting them simultaneously. You will need a cast iron skillet for this process to work.
Heat up the skillet and add a little butter or oil or any fat you like. Toast the tortilla from both sides until they develop the delicious brownish color.
Keeping Them Soft
You can heat up tortillas again and again, but they will turn cold and hard every time. Unless you know exactly how to keep them warm and soft. If you have a professional tortilla warmer in the reach of your hands, this portion of the article is not for you.
The easiest and effective way to keep your tortillas soft is the wrap them in a damp dishcloth. Then take the stack and put it inside a deep bowl. Finally, cover the towel with a plate or any flat cutlery to trap the heat and moisture inside the bowl.
Heating up tortillas sound like an easy job. But those who love to eat knows how much effort goes into successfully heating them up. Among the few people who know how to heat up tortillas, fewer know how to actually do it.
We have merely tried to guide you through the complex process of how to heat up tortillas, whether they are corn or wheat made. Accidents might happen, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to try.
Go buy yourself some tortillas and start practicing. The next time your friends come over for a stayover party, astonish them with your newly found tortilla heating skills!