tortillas

Tortillas Shelf Life: Can It Go Bad?

Having stacks of tortillas in the pantry seems a great idea whenever you need them. These flatbreads are versatile not only for classic Mexican dishes like tacos, burritos, or quesadillas, but also as a substitute for bread, pizza, and many more.

If you decide to stock a few packs of tortilla at once, you might have a concern about how long you can keep them in the kitchen. Or, one time you have leftover tortillas that have already past the date stamped on the package.

Either way,  these situations lead you to think: how long are tortillas good for? Do tortillas go bad?

If you’re looking for answers to those questions, you’re on the right page. Read along and find more information on tortillas’ shelf life, storage methods, and common signs of tortillas going bad.

What Are Tortillas?

Tortillas are thin, unleavened bread made from either corn or flour. Originally a staple for Mexican cuisine, nowadays tortillas are embraced by many people in the world.

Tortillas may vary considerably depending on which country they are produced, particularly in the countries where tortillas are part of a regular diet, like in Latin America.

In general, based on the basic ingredients, tortilla comes in two varieties: corn and flour. Next to that, other healthier options are also getting more popular these days, such as spinach tortillas and whole-wheat tortillas.

How To Store Tortillas

Tortillas are widely available in supermarkets worldwide, thanks to the rising popularity of Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisines. However, some people are willing to work the extra mile to enjoy soft, fresh tortillas right from the kitchen.

Making homemade tortillas takes time, thus knowing how to store it properly is important to not let your hard work ends up in the bin.

Homemade tortillas should be stored in an airtight container or bag to keep it soft and flexible. If you don’t plan to use it within a day, better to keep it refrigerated. When left at room temperature, tortillas can get moldy pretty quickly.

Store-bought tortillas are usually available in both refrigerated and unrefrigerated shelf. Until you need to open the packs, store them in a similar manner as in the supermarket.

This means if you pick tortillas at the refrigerated shelf, keep them in the refrigerator as soon as you’re home. The other variety is shelf-stable and can be safely stacked in a cool, dry area, away from sources of heat and sunlight, preferably your pantry or cupboard.

After opening, always keep the rest refrigerated. If the package is resealable, simply keep them in the original package. Alternatively, transfer the tortillas into an airtight container and label it.

Can you freeze tortillas?

Yes, freezing tortilla is possible to prolong the shelf life. You should expect a slight change in texture after thawing.

Transfer tortillas into a resealable freezer bag or freezer-safe container. Divide them into the amount you need for each serving. This way, you don’t need to thaw the whole bag when you only need three or four pieces. Don’t forget to label the bag!

To thaw frozen tortillas, simply move them from the freezer to the fridge for a night.

How Long Are Tortillas Good for?

Homemade tortillas are good to keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. If you have too many or don’t plan to finish soon, keeping them in the refrigerator will extend their shelf life to a week maximum.

Since different brands use different formulation and preservatives, there might be considerable variation on how long store-bought tortillas can last.

The best advice is to always respect the “best-before” or “sell-by” dates from the producers. Tortillas, whether opened or unopened, should retain their freshness before the dates, with good storage conditions.

Beyond the date, tortillas may stay good. Generally, when stored in the fridge, tortillas can last up to 30 days after the sell-by date.

Meanwhile, the shelf-stable variety may be good for a week after the date when stored in the pantry. Corn tortillas typically last slightly longer than flour tortillas.

If you’re not planning to finish the packs anytime soon, consider freezing them to benefit from longer shelf life. Frozen tortillas keep the quality up to 6 months, but may remain safe to consume after that.

Poor storage conditions can shorten the shelf life of tortillas, even before the date on the package. Always check any indications of spoilage before consuming them.

What Do Bad Tortillas Look Like?

It’s not very difficult to tell if your tortillas have gone off. Use your senses to pass your judgment.

After opening, tortillas begin to degrade. The texture gets hard, and eventually, they will go stale and less palatable. At this point, tortillas are still edible but you might not be happy with the taste.

Moisture is a real enemy for tortillas. When moisture is trapped in the package, it is likely to develop molds and ruin your tortillas. If you see visible molds on the surface, that’s a clear indication that tortillas should not be on your dinner plate.

Likewise, discard the tortillas if you notice any discoloration and unpleasant smell. After a while, you might notice dark spots or change in color. You may want to discard them for safety reasons.

If you think tortillas look normal, but not quite sure yet, try to warm up and taste a small amount to decide whether to use it or toss it before making them into tacos or whatever you like. Whenever in doubt, the old saying says ‘better to stay on the safe side’.


FAQs 

Can you eat old tortillas?

Yes, tortillas may still be good and edible past the date printed on the label. The texture can be hard, but that’s your call to make. If this is the case, feel free to make them into burritos, tacos, whatever you like.

But, if you see indications of spoilage, such as molds or awful smell, better to toss them.

Can you eat flour tortillas out of the bag?

Tortillas are supposed to be heated up before serving. This simple task can be done in a microwave or an oven. Other options are using a pan or directly onto the flame.

Each person has a preference for how to warm this flatbread, and also depends on the quantity. If you need to heat up a large portion of tortillas, it may be best to do it in the oven or microwave, instead of on a stovetop.

Are tortillas vegan?

Typically, tortillas are not made with animal ingredients, hence vegan and vegetarian-friendly.

However, with the ubiquitous brands and different formulation, it is best to check the ingredients list before purchasing.

Are tortillas gluten-free?

There are two versions of tortillas: flour and corn tortillas. A corn tortilla is naturally gluten-free while flour tortilla is not unless otherwise stated.

To be entirely sure, check the ingredient list, allergen information, or gluten-free certification. It is possible that both products are produced in the same facility where cross-contamination might occur.

Summary

Tortillas, just like most foods, will go bad eventually. Tortillas are generally divided into corn and flour tortillas. How long tortillas last depend on the brands and storage methods. Good hygiene and proper storage are important to maximize their shelf life.

Make sure to always observe the date printed on the label for your guidance. With proper storage, tortillas can last beyond this date. But, if you see any signs of tortillas going bad, such as molds, discoloration, and bad smell, don’t risk your health and discard the products immediately.

tortillas shelf life

*Photo by AndreySt/depositphotos

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