Tortillas, the Spanish word for “little cakes,” have long been an essential element in Latino cooking. Their easy production has made them the bread staple in many Mexican and Spanish style dishes. Flour tortillas emerged in northern Mexico and, although preceded by the corn tortilla, have gained popularity in the border market because of their ability to ship and keep well, according to food aficionado Rachel Daneman. So while flour tortillas do not have to be refrigerated, they must still be stored properly to maintain freshness.
The Pros of Refrigerating Flour Tortillas
It is not necessary to refrigerate flour tortillas; however, this will extend their shelf life. Tortillas can last more than three times longer if they are refrigerated after they are purchased. According to the Mission website, when left unopened, tortillas have a shelf life of 60 to 90 days if refrigerated compared to only 14 to 35 days if left in ambient temperature. In addition to helping tortillas last longer, refrigeration can also preserve their freshness by isolating them from insects and air-born contaminants that can spoil them.
The Cons of Refrigerating Flour Tortillas
Although refrigerating flour tortillas can extend their shelf life, there are some cons to this storage method. When refrigerated, bags of tortillas that have been opened and not properly resealed can collect condensation on the inside and create excess moisture on the tortillas. This can cause tortillas to become soggy or stick together, which will ruin them. So if you refrigerate your flour tortillas, it is best to seal them properly and store them in a compartment with humidity control.
The Pros of Storing Flour Tortillas at Room Temperature
Flour tortillas can last over two weeks stored at room temperature, so they do not have to be refrigerated. If you know that the tortillas will be eaten quickly, there are some advantages to leaving them out of the refrigerator. When wrapped in foil and stored in a closed container, freshly cooked or recently heated tortillas will remain warm, fresh and ready to eat for a while without the need for reheating. This can be convenient if they will be eaten throughout the day.
The Cons of Storing Flour Tortillas at Room Temperature
Although it’s possible to eat tortillas that have been stored at room temperature, their shelf life will be reduced. If tortillas are not refrigerated, it is important to examine them before eating them to ensure they have not expired. If they are expired or not stored in a dry place, mold and bacteria can grow. This will spoil the tortillas and make you sick if you eat them, so it’s best to use tortillas quickly or refrigerate them if they need to be stored longer.
References and ResourcesRachel Daneman: Traditional Northern Mexican Flour Tortillas
Mission: Shelf Life