You have bought a lot of tortillas and you have realized that you have more than you need. You use one or two from time to time, but soon you start to wonder: do the tortillas go bad?
Or perhaps you have bought a package of tortillas to try to make homemade tacos, enchiladas, burritos or any other dish of Mexican cuisine that calls for these flatbreads.
The recipe that you have tried has been delicious, but you cannot have dinner with it every other day. These types of dishes require time, so they are best reserved for the weekend. And that’s why you have to figure out what is the best way to store tortillas and how to preserve them for the long term.
If you want to know more about tortillas, their conservation, their useful life and their deterioration, this article is for you. Keep reading.
How to preserve tortillas
While most baked goods, like bread or baguettes, can be stored at room temperature, tortillas are a little different.
You should generally store unopened tortillas the same way they were stored at the store. If the package was in the refrigerated section, be sure to put it in the fridge when you get home. If it was not refrigerated, you should store it in a cool, dry place, away from heat. That means a dark cabinet in the pantry or kitchen.
Each tortilla maker uses their own formula. Some add preservatives to make theirs stable on the market. Others choose to be preservative-free, and often even organic, but these products often require refrigeration. Therefore, it is better to stick to the recommendation on the label.
Once the package is opened, not much changes. First of all, wrap them well before putting leftovers back into storage. If the original container is resealable, feel free to use it. If not, transfer the tortillas to freezer bags or wrap them in plastic or aluminum foil.
Now let’s talk about where to store the remaining tortillas. If it was the sold-refrigerated variety, it stays in the fridge, obviously. Whether it’s its unrefrigerated counterpart, depends.
Some producers ask you to refrigerate their tortillas after opening them, others don’t. As with unopened packages, it’s best to follow the label’s recommendations. If in doubt, refrigerate to extend its shelf life.
When it comes to homemade tortillas, keep them well wrapped in the fridge.
Can the tortillas be frozen?
The general consensus is that you can generally freeze tortillas. Unless the manufacturer specifically says you shouldn’t, there’s no reason not to. Although freezing can change the texture slightly, it’s usually not a big problem (if at all).
When it comes to freezing these Mexican flatbreads, the most important thing is to protect them from the cold air. And that means you have to wrap them well. Original packaging is usually not good enough, so use freezer bags or aluminum foil.
Another thing to remember is to put a divider between each wrapper so they don’t freeze together. Tortillas are often frozen in a large clump, and separating them (even after thawing) is difficult.
If you want to know more about freezing wraps, here is our article on freezing tortillas.
How long do tortillas last?
Tortillas that are sold unrefrigerated usually come with an expiration date. And that date is usually a pretty good estimate of how long they retain their quality. Of course, a few days after that date the quality should still be perfectly good, but at some point it will go bad.
Once you open the package and store leftovers properly, the flatbreads should stay fresh until the date on the label. Or even a few more days. If you open the package after that date, it’s best to use all the tortillas right away or freeze the rest if they’re good.
If the producer does not require that you refrigerate the tortillas after opening, you can store them in the fridge for up to 4 weeks of additional shelf life.
When it comes to tortillas sold in the refrigerated aisle, the ideas are pretty similar. You can usually find an expiration date on the packaging, and tortillas should stay fresh for maybe a week after that date. Opening the package doesn’t change much.
If you need to store the tortillas for more than a week after the date on the label, freeze them. And the sooner you freeze them, the better. For best results, follow the freezing guide earlier in the article.
Last but not least, homemade tortillas should keep their freshness for about a week in the fridge. Although it all depends on the recipe you use, a week is a pretty safe estimate. If you want to make them in bulk, leave the amount you need for the week in the fridge and freeze the rest.
|Tortillas (sold unrefrigerated)||Expiration + 1 week||Expiration + 3 weeks|
|Tortillas (sold refrigerated)||Expiration + 1 week|
|homemade tortillas||1 week|
Please note that the periods indicated are only estimates and for the best quality.
How do you know if the tortillas have gone bad?
First, check for the usual signs of deterioration, such as mold, dark spots on the surface, discolorations, or a bad smell. If there are any of them, throw away the tortillas. It is most likely that you have stored them incorrectly, that moisture has entered them, or that they have been stored too long.
If neither is there and you haven’t stored the tortillas for too long, they should be perfectly safe to eat. Now is the time to heat them up.
If you’re not sure if they’re good enough to eat, cut off a small portion and taste it before adding any other ingredients to the tortillas. You don’t want to make a burrito or curry wrap only to discover that the flatbreads are stale and the whole thing is bland.