What Type of Equipment Do I Need to Make Fresh Tortillas?
If you have never made tortillas before, you might have a few questions on which model is the best tortilla press for you to buy, where to buy a tortilla press, or how to care for your tortilla press.
Traditionally, tortillas were patted out by hand, and laid on a hot griddle to cook. Many cooks in Mexico still hand pat tortillas, but even legendary Mexican culinary expert Diana Kennedy admits that it is a tough skill to master. A manual tortilla press, made of cast iron or cast aluminum, is what is used in the majority of Mexican households and restaurants.
Remember that only corn tortillas require a tortilla press. As it contains wheat gluten, flour tortilla dough is too stretchy and elastic to be pressed out in a tortilla press. Flour tortillas must be rolled out with a rolling pin, known in Mexico as a palote or rodillo.
Knowing How To Select A Quality Tortilla Press
Many of the common tortilla presses that come out of Latin America use cheap finishes and hardware that wear out quickly and rust. Personally, I really like the IMUSA cast iron tortilla press. The plates are heavy, which means you don't need to physically apply as much force to the handle to get a good even press. The cast iron has a non-stick finish, and the pivot pin is aluminum, so you don't have to worry about rust.
Regarding tortilla size, smaller is more authentic. Throughout Mexico, the standard is a 6.5 inch size small tortilla press. Tacos are smaller, more delicate and contain only a few morsels. That way, you eat them quickly, before they have time to cool. In the U.S., however, consumers prefer larger, burrito sized tortillas. For those chefs, there is the 8 inch large tortilla press. You need to buy the size tortilla press that fits your preference.
An Insider Trick for Making The Perfect Tortilla
You will need to make two plastic sheets to use in your tortilla press. Usually these are fashioned out of zipper style plastic storage bags. Just trace a circle the same diameter as your tortilla press onto both thicknesses of the bag. Cut out the circle so that you have two round plastic sheets.
Use and Care of a Tortilla Press
To make a corn tortilla, open your tortilla press, place one plastic sheet on the bottom plate, place a golf ball sized portion of dough on the sheet, and top with the remaining plastic sheet. Lower the top plate onto the ball of dough, and press the handle to flatten the dough to an even thickness of around 1/8 inch. Pull the pressed corn tortilla from the tortilla press, then peel away the outer plastic, laying the raw tortilla on your hand. Once both plastic sheets are removed from your corn tortilla, you are ready to lay it on a hot griddle and cook.
To cook your tortilla, think of a corn tortilla as having three sides: a "setting" side, a "cooking side" and a "puffing" side. Once you lay your tortilla on the griddle, allow it to cook for approximately 15 seconds, so that the dough "sets." Then, using a spatula, flip your tortilla to the "cooking" side and let it cook for about a minute. Then flip again to the "puffing" side, when the tortilla has become cooked well enough on both sides that air gets trapped inside the layers and expands. After about 10 seconds on the "puffing" side, your tortilla is ready!
Tortilla press care is easy. Just wipe it down after use and put away. Never put your tortilla press in the dishwasher.