Using a Tortilla Maker Press and Cooker
If you want to make truly authentic Mexican dishes like tacos, enchiladas or taquitos at home, you can’t rely on store bought corn tortillas. Learning to make your own fresh, homemade corn tortillas really gives a special flavor to your meal, and once you’ve tried them you’ll never go back to store bought ones.
Traditionally, the women of the family made corn tortillas entirely by hand. First they would harvest and dry the corn. Then, they prepared a mixture of water and lime and soaked the dried corn until the outer hulls peeled off and the kernels became soft.
Soaking the corn in water and lime changes the corn chemically and makes it more digestible for humans.
The next step is to ground the soaked corn into a fine paste known as masa or dough. This dough was then allowed to dry and ground again into corn flour or masa harina. Finally, women had the base for making corn tortillas!
Fortunately for us, we can now take a shortcut in this process by purchasing premade masa harina and skipping straight to making the tortillas. Here is a very simple corn tortilla recipe that you can make right now.
Corn Tortilla Recipe – Makes 12 Tortillas
- Masa harina
- 1. Mix 2 cups masa harina with 1 cup water.
- 2. Add a dash of salt.
- 3. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes.
- 4. Cover the dough and allow it to rest for 1 hour.
- 5. Shape and cook your tortillas using a cast iron pan or a tortilla machine!
Corn Tortilla Recipe Making – MUST KNOW Tips
- If you don’t have an hour to spend on making tortillas, you can take an even bigger shortcut and buy premade masa. Then you can skip straight to shaping and cooking the tortillas.
- Latin American women, especially Mexican, are no strangers to hard work in the kitchen, and many women who made tortillas for their families every single day became so skilled at it that they could take a little ball of masa and turn it into a perfectly flat, round, paper-thin tortilla using nothing but their hands. Then they would fry the tortillas briefly in a cast iron pan. I took the picture of a Mexican woman on the side of the road to Chichén Itzá using the method just described above, look at the top of this page and you can see her making the tortillas in a cast iron pan.
- One of our fabulous FB followers, Beth Allen Borgerding share some excellent tips abut making tortillas on our FB page that I thought were very valuable. Here they are:
- If you use a tortilla press you must use thin sheets of plastic on each plate of the press (a cut up produce bag is perfect) or else the masa-ball will just stick to it.
- The temperature of your masa and of hands is important. This sounds strange but it really makes a difference. Warmer hands or warmer water makes the masa stickier and it won’t puff up on the griddle like it should.Let the masa rest in a cool place and if it seems to be sticking to your hands, run cold water over your hands. Dry off quickly before grabbing more masa.
In Mexico, I have seen women putting their hands briefly into bowls of cold water, then dry off the hands every few masa-balls they make, and occasionally replacing the water with the coolest water from the bottom of the water so their hands stay cool.
- The temperature of your griddle or comal is absolutely key. You must use heavy cast iron or an electric griddle that can keep a constant temperature very evenly over the entire cooking surface. You will have to experiment with your stove settings.
If both, the masa-dough temp and the griddle temp are really perfect you might be able to cook one side and then the other however, that is a rare situation even for the pros. The more typical case is that each tortilla has to be flipped back and forth several times.
If you get it right, your tortillas will puff up as they are cooking, not as much puffy as Indian Nan, and unlike Nan they deflate as soon as you take them off the heat, but it’s the same idea.That’s the signature taste of homemade tortillas, when you get that flaky-layer thing happening inside.
The thinner tortillas (Mexico style) puff up a bit more but the thicker tortillas (El Salvador) style also have some puffing while cooking.You can actually taste the difference even though by the time you eat it looks totally flat.
Using a Tortilla Maker Press and Cooker
If you’re just starting out at making homemade tortillas, give yourself a break and use a tortilla maker to press and flatten balls of masa into nicely shaped tortillas.
After that, you can go ahead and fry them in the traditional cast iron pan. Or, if you really want to modernize the process, you can use a tortilla cooker to complete both steps at once -flatten the masa and cook it in one easy motion.