When it comes to cooking up a feast in the midweek, there are very few dishes that hit as successfully as those with tortillas do.
They’re incredibly tasty and supremely filling with other ingredients – which often means there is room for leftovers!
But tortillas can be a little confusing at times. You may wonder to yourself how long you can keep them in the refrigerator before they go bad – or how long they last if you leave them on the counter.
Well, the answer varies from between two days and eight months depending on how you decide to store them. Of course, this means that there’s a lot more that you need to know.
So we’ve written this handy guide which explains everything you need to know about tortillas, including if they go bad and storage information.
Ready to learn more? Then read on for all of your most burning questions to be answered!
Tortillas – A Tasty Choice
Without any further delays, we’re going to dive right into this guide. To start with, we’re going to clear up exactly what a tortilla is and some of the basics.
By doing so, we should be able to understand how and why this food item can expire.
Let’s get started.
What Is A Tortilla?
Tortillas are thin and round unleavened bread which is made using cornmeal, or less often wheat flour.
Typically, they are baked on a flat plate of iron or sometimes earthenware. Their variations may depend on your location.
For example, in Mexico and Central America, tortillas are made using maize or corn and they can sometimes come in different colors including white maize, blue maize and yellow maize.
However in South America, tortillas (otherwise known as arepas there) are made to be a whole lot thicker than the others you may find in Central America.
Corn tortillas are the widely recognized traditional forms of tortillas which are used for a whole array of Mexican dishes like tacos, quesadillas, burritos, enchiladas, flautas, tortilla soup and tostadas.
Do Tortillas Go Bad?
The length of time a tortilla lasts depends on a number of factors.
One factor to determine first is what the tortilla is made from because corn tortillas and wheat flour tortillas have different expiration durations.
A second factor is how you plan to store them. For example, are you going to put these tortillas in your pantry? In the refrigerator? In the freezer?
Whatever the tortilla is made from, if you decide to freeze the tortillas past their expiration date, they should last an extra six to eight months.
Of course, this changes wildly when we’re talking about placing them in a refrigerator or in the pantry.
Flour tortillas should last about a week in the pantry, but they will last about three to four weeks in the refrigerator.
Homemade tortillas on the other hand will last between two to three days past their expiration date if you keep them in the pantry.
If you refrigerate homemade tortillas though, they will likely last about a week or so past their expiration date.
Whole wheat and spinach tortillas are different though – they can last about a week in the pantry and around three to four weeks in the refrigerator.
How Do You Know That A Tortilla Has Gone Bad?
Tortillas can be a little tricky to know if they’ve gone bad or not. Unlike things like milk, there isn’t as much of a clear indicator when the food has expired.
Having said that though, there are still two ways to tell; your own senses and the preservatives used.
Tortillas are pliable by their own nature, and as a result they will stiffen up as they begin to age.
This is one way that you can tell you should be avoiding the tortilla – not to mention the fact that you probably do not want to consume a rock hard tortilla anyway!
Another way to tell is if you notice some signs of molding.
Generally, this will take a long time and it can sometimes be a little difficult to spot – but if it becomes obvious, then you certainly need to throw out the whole pack.
Moreover, if you notice black spots on the tortillas or you start to smell some foul stench emanating from the tortillas, then these are obvious signs that you need to dispose of them right away.
Now, when it comes to asking yourself why these tortillas may have gone bad, there are a number of potential reasons.
Typically, tortillas will have gone bad due to poor storage or because they were kept in storage for way too long.
When we are talking about poor storage, one of the ways this could occur is if moisture has seeped into the pack.
When this happens, the tortillas will react negatively with the water and this will rapidly increase the expiration and promote the growth of mold.
However, if you do not see any mold or smell anything bad – this does not necessarily mean that the tortilla is okay to eat.
As we mentioned earlier, it can be a little difficult to spot when your tortillas have gone bad.
So one way that you can check to see if your tortillas are okay to eat is by slicing off a very small section of the tortilla and then tasting it.
Don’t panic about it making you sick – you wouldn’t try it if it is clear there is molding.
If the tortilla tastes as you expect it to, then the rest of the slice should be fine to consume, but you should still remain cautious.
If however, you are not happy with the taste of the tortilla, or you’re suspicious over the taste – then don’t chance it – throw it out.
Can You Extend The Life Of A Tortilla?
One of the biggest reasons why food like this spoils is because of moisture in the packaging.
The fact of the matter is that tortillas need to be stored in a cool and dry environment where the temperature does not change a lot.
The reason for this is because when the temperature alters, moisture in the air will cause condensation within the packaging. Once this happens, the build-up of mold is very likely to occur.
Some people decide to use dehumidifiers in their homes to avoid the growth of bacteria and then mold.
While these devices may help, you should speak with a professional contractor if you notice your home’s temperature changes wildly without your doing or you notice mold.
The reason we bring this up is because, if your home is susceptible to mold – then the chances are that the environment where you store your tortillas is also likely to be problematic, meaning storing tortillas is going to be difficult!
One of the best tips when it comes to storage is to check how the store where you purchased the tortillas from stored the pack originally.
If they left them on the shelf for example, then you should store them in the pantry.
Don’t forget, if you are ever unsure about how you should store your tortillas – you can always look on the label for storage information and tips.
If for any reason however, there is no such information on the label – consider storing the tortillas in the refrigerator once open.
Once The Pack Is Open
If the packet has not yet been opened, then there’s no real need to panic – you can store it as it is.
However, once the pack has been opened – it’s critical that you wrap them tightly before you store them.
You need to ensure that they are packed airtight to avoid letting any moisture into them. Generally speaking, you can usually find tortillas in stores that are sold with resealable packs.
When it comes to thinking about what sort of packaging you can store the tortillas in, then one of the best and most tried and tested methods is to use freezer bags.
These are bags designed to be airtight and avoid moisture creeping into them.
This is especially the case if you have made tortillas at home because you won’t have received any resealable packs.
Aluminum foil can work too, or you can even use an airtight box (such as a small lunch box).
The key thing to remember is that you’re trying to keep out the air and prevent as much oxygen in the pack as possible.
If possible you may wish to purchase vacuum bags. While these can be a little more expensive, you can sometimes find ones that are reusable so essentially they pay for themselves over time.
If You Haven’t Opened The Pack
As we said, if you haven’t yet opened the pack, then there’s no real need to panic.
You should simply follow the same storage advice as the store you got them from or whatever it says to do on the label.
However, some people may decide to split their packs – perhaps because of financial reasons or sharing with other people.
If you do this, you must ensure that you are following the same advice as we have provided above.
Can You Freeze Tortillas For A Longer Time Period?
You can certainly freeze tortillas if you want to and this will certainly prolong their life for about six to eight months.
However, we would say that it depends on why you’re planning to freeze them and what your rationale is.
For example, some people will purchase large packs of tortillas and then freeze them because they cannot use so many in one go.
However, we would advise you to only buy what you’re planning to use.
While this might be easier said than done at times, the best thing you can do is to prevent any food wastage.
Not only this, but it will likely be cheaper for you to do this in the long run as you will not need to purchase things like freezer bags.
Moreover, while freezing tortillas will prolong their lives, it is possible that the freezing and defrosting process can reduce the overall consistency and taste of the tortillas.
Simply put, yes – you can freeze your tortillas and they will live for a longer period of time, but you should try to only purchase the amount of tortillas that you think you are going to use in one sitting.
Storing Tortillas In The Freezer
If you are going to put your tortillas in the freezer, it’s absolutely vital that you prevent the freezing cold air from reaching the tortillas.
If cold air lands on the tortillas, this will cause moisture to trap – and eventually the growth and promotion of bacteria and mold.
So, as we mentioned earlier – the best course of action is to wrap your tortillas in airtight freezer bags or aluminum foil.
Ensure the tortillas have enough room in the freezer and do not place them on top of other foods that are in the freezer.
We should also point out at this point that when it comes time to defrosting the tortillas, you must take them out and place them on the side wrapped in towels.
They will reach room temperature and eventually be safe to heat or eat.
However, it’s important that you remember not to defrost them in the refrigerator because this will promote moisture.
Only defrost your tortillas at room temperature and do not refreeze them once they have reached this temperature again.
This is one of the reasons why we would suggest not purchasing more tortillas than you need, because it’s very difficult to use the amount that you need after freezing and defrosting them.
And that’s all you need to know about tortillas and if they go bad! We hope you have enjoyed this guide.
Some points you should take away from this are – try to only buy the amount of tortillas that you can use at one time – and always beware of moisture!
Frequently Asked Questions
We will now cover some of the most asked questions when it comes to these tortillas.
It’s entirely possible to get sick when tortillas go bad and you consume them. If you have, you need to speak with your doctor as soon as possible.
In the meantime, throw out the remaining tortillas (except one if the doctor needs it).
It’s also important to remain calm and hydrated if you start to experience symptoms like vomiting, nausea or diarrhea.
If you have a lot of leftovers, then yes it certainly is worth it. However, as we mentioned before – you’re much better off only buying the amount of tortillas that you can handle at one time.
No – this is a common misconception. Some tortillas will come in basic plastic bags which are essentially glued until they are opened.
Therefore, if you are going to have leftovers, you absolutely need to buy freezer bags or aluminum foil.