Trader Joe’s CORN TORTILLAS


(gluten free? absolutely!)

tortilla1
tortilla2

Actually one of the best things about Trader Joe’s CORN TORTILLAS is what’s NOT in them. True, authentic corn tortillas, like these, contain only three ingredientsWhich makes these tortillas already better than most corn tortillas you may find in a supermarket. This package lists three ingredients: “white corn, water, lime” (and by the way “lime” in this case refers not to the citrus fruit but to rather a natural chemical called Calcium hydroxide (Spanish, cal) which is essential to breaking down dried corn kernels and releasing proteins. This chemical process is known as Nixtalmization (pronounced Neesh – ta – mal, a word from the Aztec Nahuatl language). 

These days it’s not easy to find corn tortillas with only 3 ingredients. Check the label on most brands of tortillas at your local supermarket. You’ll see there about ten ingredients listed, as most commercial tortilla manufacturers have switched in the last few years to adding preservative chemicals and other ingredients that extend shelf life and make tortillas feel softer when you buy them. So besides CORN, WATER, LIME…. you will see things like: “contains 2% or less of: cellulose gum, guar gum, amylase and propionic acid, benzoic acid and phosphoric acid (to maintain freshness).”

For example, MISSION CORN TORTILLAS label (Ingredients: GROUND CORN TREATED WITH LIME, WATER, CELLULOSE GUM, PROPIONIC ACID (TO PRESERVE FRESHNESS), BENZOIC ACID (TO PRESERVE FRESHNESS), PHOSPHORIC ACID (PRESERVATIVE), GUAR GUM, AMYLASE.

Versus, Trader Joe’s Corn TortillasWHITE CORN, WATER, LIME 

Ya dig? Its pretty clear why I (and you too probably) will prefer Trader Joe’s tortillas, which are – All Natural ! Now as they don’t have those extra preservatives of course TJs Corn Tortillas won’t stay as soft and fresh as long as the ones with preservatives. So plan to use these TJ tortillas within about a week or two. I keep them tightly wrapped and DOUBLE BAGGED in still another plastic bag in the fridge with a zip lock. Unfortunately corn tortillas don’t freeze well at all, they get mealy defrosted, but these are right cheap and there aren’t that many in a package (12 tortillas). These go for $1.50 for the bag. Now Whole Foods sells an artisanal tortilla which are good but crazy expensive at $5+ a bag. I have tried this brand, VISTA HERMOSA tortillas. They are very good but the price is kind of outrageous. Read about them here as they have lots of good info about Tortilla making in general, if you’re interested in this!

https://www.vistahermosaproducts.com/corn-tortillas

The reality is tortillas in Mexico are so far better tasting that anything we can buy (at least on the East Coast, I can’t speak for West Coast) it ain’t funny. In any Mexican town you can buy a kilo of “artisanal” tortillas made from nixtamalized freshly ground corn, mixed and baked on the spot probably no more than an hour before made from ancient varieties of corn that have a hundred times the flavor of what we have here in the States. And they cost around $1 for a kilo. They have to. The government keeps the price low for the masses. Tortillas are the staple of life there for millions. Corn and beans together make high quality protein.

TJ’s also sells a Corn & Wheat (mixed) tortilla. They are softer and are not bad. I sometimes buy those too but I find these 100% Corn tortilla have much more flavor.  The corn & wheat ones last longer and are softer. I do use both on occasion but these corn tortillas not only possess more flavor, they get pleasantly chewy when cooked,

IMPORTANT TIP: Corn Tortillas need to be served as HOT as possible and eaten ASAP. To heat, I put a tortilla right on the gas burner of my stove and flip them over and over for about 30 seconds. I try to get a few “burnt spots” as I like the way they taste. But don’t over do it. You can also put them under a hot broiler instead for a few minutes until you see them puff up with a few cooked spots, but again they can burn easily so keep an eye on them. Or nuke them in the microwave for 20 seconds. Keep your tortillas warm in a covered basket or bowl with lots of tea clothes/dish towels, etc. Or if you eat them often you might get a real tortilla warmer (Amazon has tons for sale: https://amzn.to/2M3YX3u)

For tacos, you can also heat them as above. Or heat with a small amount of oil in a pan till slightly crispy. Remove and fill and eat immediately. Or make Quesadillas with some cheese and other fillings, like shredded chicken or soy chorizo and arugula. I love these, they’re to die for: crispy, chewy, oozy-gooey cheesy deliciousness!

RECIPE – QUESADILLAS

Ingredients

– Corn Tortillas (are best, but you can use flour or corn/wheat tortillas if you wish. I feel all corn tortillas give a better taste and crispy chewy texture)

– Cheese (Monterey Jack with Peppers is ideal, or use any cheddar,  Jack or even Mozzarella for ooey-gooeyness)

OPTIONAL EXTRA STUFF: add a bit of something like shredded chicken, steak, ham, soy chorizo, crumbled baked tofu and/or arugula, spinach….

For the topping: Arugula, Chopped Tomatoes, Salsa, Sour Cream/Crema, Greek Yogurt, Bomba Hot Sauce, Zhoug….. VEGGIES on top: Sliced radishes, lettuce, cabbage….

Put about a teaspoon of oil in a non-stick or cast iron pan large enough to hold at least 2 tortillas; top one 1/2 of tortillas with grated cheese; (option) top this with some extra ingredient (as per above) Cook for a minute just until you can fold the tortillas over into a half moon without it breaking (will soften as it cooks). Cook until bottom side is just a little browned and crispy and cheese is melted; press down gently, flip and cook the other side, till slight golden.  If you don’t want to fold, just put another tortilla on top of the first one and flip over carefully. The cheese is the glue! Plate and top with something… guacamole, sour cream/creama, greek yogurt, salsa, hot sauce or Sriracha (optional) and some more fresh arugula, or cilantro, or eat plain!

On the side serve REFRIED BEANS.

THE REST OF THIS POST IS AN ANTHROPOLOGY FOOD HISTORY LESSON IF YOU ARE INTERESTED: Corn Tortillas are one of the most important Historical Foods on Earth dating back over over a thousand years or more. If you want to learn about the history of Tortillas, Masa and “Nixtamalization” (processing corn with lime) you can learn more with the links below.

NIXTAMALIZATION

Nixtamalization is a food science/process discovered and used by the Ancient Peoples of Meso-America as long as 2-5,000 years ago. In many kitchens in Mexico today you can find the exact same utensil, called a Metate, many found intact in Mayan tombs, used the same way now they were by the Maya and Aztec peoples. This is a modern one.

Mexican Cazuela

PS – Sometimes I make tortillas from scratch with Masa Harina. Maseca is another common brand of Corn Masa easy to find in many supermarkets. Bob’s Red Mill is an organic, gourmet (pricey) kind but gives good results.

masa

Making tortillas from Masa isn’t terribly hard but takes a little time. But the results are amazing, you can’t get fresher better tasting tortillas than hot off the comal (grill). Homemade of course tastes better than anything pre-packaged. Here’s a link to a video of a guy explaining how to make them if you want to try.

GET SOME IDEAS ON WHAT TO MAKE

https://www.brit.co/corn-tortilla-dinner-recipes/

And if you really want to see the real thing, the whole process of making Masa (dough) from soaked cooked corn kernels to a finished Tortilla, watch this video. The “metate” (stone grinder) she is using is the exact same design used today as those found in ancient Mayan tombs. I bet her tortilla’s taste out of this world. Any tortilla you might buy made on a street corner by some lady by hand in Mexico City, Oaxaca, or anywhere in Mexico is going to blow any we buy in the U.S out of the water.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: TJ’s Taco Seasoning Mix spice blend | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (mostly raves!)
  2. Mike Grig
    Sep 27, 2020 @ 20:04:42

    Just went for more White Corn Tortilla’s at TJ’s in Silverdale. None available and the staff indicated they did not have them. Hope it’s only a temporary situtation.

    Like

    Reply

  3. Trackback: TJ’s HABANERO LIME FLOUR TORTILLAS | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (Mostly Raves with a few rants!)
  4. Trackback: TJ’s CHIPOTLE BLACK BEAN DIP | Trader Joe’s Rants & Raves (mostly raves, a few rants)

Leave a Reply to Mike Grig Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: