Once you start making your own flour tortillas, it's hard to go back to store bought. Once you get a batch going, and you're on a roll with the pressing process, you might as well make enough for a crowd or to freeze for later. You can freeze tortillas easily, and once you defrost and cook them, they're almost as good as freshly made.
You can freeze flour tortillas simply by putting a sealed package in the freezer, but you'll have to defrost the whole package at once unless you separate the tortillas with foil or parchment paper so you can defrost them individually.
How to Freeze Tortillas
The care you put into freezing your tortillas should depend on the length of time you expect them to be in the freezer. Tortillas that have been frozen for a week or two are considerably more forgiving than tortillas that have been frozen for a month or two. Because their quality deteriorates the longer they have been frozen, you should take greater care protecting them from freezer burn if you don't plan to defrost and use them in the very near future.
The better you wrap your tortillas, the less vulnerable they'll be to freezer burn. Surround them in a layer of foil before putting them in a plastic bag, and use a thick, high-quality bag rather than a flimsy one. Produce bags tend to be thin and offer little protection when you freeze tortillas, while zipper bags marketed as freezer bags are designed specifically for the freezing process.
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Also, make sure that your tortillas are chilled in the refrigerator before you freeze them, and never freeze warm tortillas. As foods cool in the freezer, the cooling process draws moisture out of them, creating the crystals that dry them out, make their quality deteriorate and bring about the unpleasant taste of freezer burn. Warm tortillas contain more moisture than cold ones, so the added cooling will cause additional ice crystals to collect inside your packaging.
Separating Frozen Tortillas
As flour tortillas freeze, they fuse together in a solid mass and cannot be separated unless they thaw. Even once they thaw, you'll have to separate them very carefully to avoid tearing them. This takes finesse, but you can make it work if you're careful.
If you shred your tortillas while separating them, they'll be unsuitable for tacos and burritos, although you may still be able to use them in dishes such as enchiladas, where you can reassemble them and cover them with salsa and cheese to hide the rips.
However, you can make your frozen tortillas separate cleanly and easily by placing dividers between the individual tortillas. Sheets of parchment paper, wax paper and aluminum foil work well. Placing something between the tortillas not only allows you to separate them easily once they thaw, but it also makes it easy to separate them even when they're frozen so you can defrost only as many as you need.
Thawing Frozen Tortillas
Because they're so thin, flour tortillas thaw in a couple of minutes, even on the countertop. Room temperature will provide enough warmth for them to soften up and become flexible, but you'll want to heat them further to make them an appealing addition to your dinner.
A microwave is an extremely forgiving way to thaw and heat frozen tortillas. It keeps them moist, although you do run the risk of sogginess. An oven or microwave will give your defrosted flour tortillas better texture, although you'll have to watch them carefully because there's a fine line between perfect and brittle, especially if your tortillas don't contain additives that keep them flexible.
Devra Gartenstein is a self-taught professional cook who has authored two cookbooks: "The Accidental Vegan", and "Local Bounty: Seasonal Vegan Recipes". She founded Patty Pan Cooperative, Seattle's oldest farmers market concession, and teaches regular cooking classes.