Tortillas 101

Set up your grinder in preparation, or if you don’t have a grinder, skip this step.

Pull out your bucket of grain, and pour into the grinder. Then, grind the wheat.

Set out your ingredients; this helps those of us who can tend to forget an ingredient. (Recipe below.)

Pour the flour into a bowl, cupful by cupful.

Dump the salt in.

Measure the oil (your choice of canola or olive oil, melted butter may also be used).

Pour the oil in, and cut it in with a pastry cutter until the mixture is in semi-fine crumbles.

Pour the water in. It’s often wise to not pour the entire amount in, since sometimes it can be too much, and you’ll need to add more flour. The dough should be sticky, but not gooey, and definitely not firm! You will use flour later when rolling them out.

Cover with a towel and let sit.

Grab a golf-size ball of dough (approximately 2-3 ounces), and place on a well-floured surface. (Important note: We use white flour for flouring the surface and handling the dough.) I was given a large pastry mat for Christmas, and it works well (I still flour it). You can also use a pastry cloth.

Begin rolling! We no longer use a tortilla press. We prefer the outcome of the hand-rolled tortillas, and really, they don’t take that long.

If you can find a helper, things will go even faster. For this time, we set up two fry pans plus a griddle. The tortillas are cooked on a dry fry pan. I don’t have an actual time for baking them, but it probably is anywhere from 45 seconds to a minute and a half per side, depending on the thickness of the tortilla and the heat of the fry pan. If they’re cooked too long, the tortillas will be dry. You want them just past the dough stage. Use a spatula to flip the tortillas.

Then, you find a younger brother or sister (or, in my case, a delightful niece), and let them help. Abby knows how to flour the mat and roll the tortillas out. Her first project was to make a little one for her to eat and enjoy.

Go, girl!

The tortilla might not be in a perfect, round shape, but the taste is just as good.

Notice the flour? I love you, Abby (and you too, Anna).

The tortilla bakers: Aunt Sarah, Aunt Anna, and Abby

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Maxwells’ Tortillas

  • 10 cups flour
  • 1 TB. plus 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 and 1/3 cups oil
  • 4 cups water

Combine the flour and a salt in a large bowl. Cut in the oil (or butter). Using a large spoon, add the water until the dough is soft and sticky. Let the dough sit on the counter anywhere from 1-3 hours. Then, portion the dough into golf-size balls or 2 ounce size (or, just figure out what size your family wants). Flour a surface such as a pastry mat or cloth. Heat fry pans. Cook each tortilla until lightly cooked. It could be anywhere from less than a minute to a minute and a half, depending on your heat settings and the thickness of the tortilla. You don’t want the tortilla to be doughy, but you don’t want it overcooked, otherwise, the tortilla will be tough.

Use a spatula to flip the tortillas. Place the cooked tortillas on a plate and cover with a towel. ENJOY! (Refrigerate tortillas after the first use. You can also freeze tortillas to make them last longer. When ready to use tortillas that have been refrigerated, you’ll want to warm them up in the microwave for a little bit to soften them.)

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Sarah

“And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God” (Luke 4:4).

18 thoughts on “Tortillas 101”

  1. I especially like the last picture of you,Anna, and Abby. And Abby’s dress is so pretty! We’ve never made tortillas from scratch before! Oh, by the way, how is the CD project going? ‘Been praying about it!

    God bless! Rebecca K.
    >>>>>>>>>>>
    Thank you for praying. It went to the CD replicator today.
    Steve

  2. Thank you for both the tutorial and the recipe ladies! What fun! And you all look so lovely in your aprons. 😀 It’s so sweet to see you all encouraging and helping Abby with her homemaking skills! 🙂 I’m sure she loves helping you all!

    Such a perfect verse to accompany this post too. 🙂 What a wonderful reminder!

    Blessings in Christ!
    ~Miss Rachel~

  3. Aloha Sarah!
    I noticed you didn’t knead it. Does letting it sit for a few hours eliminate the need to knead? No pun intended! haha! I also noticed you didn’t use baking powder which I understand isn’t necessary but for puffiness. Hope you are having a wonderful day.
    Aloha in Christ,
    Denise
    ——–
    Interesting question. It’s not necessary to knead it–just mix it up so that it forms a dough without globs of flour being stuck in the bottom of the bowl. It doesn’t require baking powder either.
    Sarah
    ——–

  4. How many tortillas does this make? I’ve only got 3 people (1 is a toddler) to feed so I don’t need very many tortillas at a time. Does this freeze well?
    ——-
    I think it generally makes 30-35 large tortillas. If I were to measure them based on how the stores do, I would say they might even be 10″ shells? So, you could easily cut it down to a “3 cup batch.” I don’t always make the full recipe. You can vary and make smaller batches.
    Sarah
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  5. Thanks for the recipe! Maybe I’ll start with homemade tortillas and work my way up to homemade bread. Do the tortilla shells freeze well?
    —–
    Fairly well. I would make sure they’re wrapped tightly to prevent freezer burn. For you all, I would do a small batch (maybe a 2 cup batch), and then your leftovers wouldn’t be too many. They are always best fresh. Yumm.
    Sarah
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  6. Do I take it you grind your own grain to make the flour? Can you actually buy grain like that? (Excuse my ignorance.) Is that so you can avoid preservatives etc?
    ——
    Yes, we do grind our own grain. We buy the wheat in buckets, and then we use a mill (Nutrimill in our case, but there are other brands) to grind it. You can also buy whole wheat flour from stores. There are a lot of health benefits to grinding your own grain.

    As a small side note, if I’m remembering this fact correctly, fresh-milled flour can begin to lose its nutrients after 24 hours. So, if we grind a batch of flour and don’t use the entire container, we’ll freeze the leftover flour, and then use the flour at another time. We also freeze our leftover bread (we usually eat one loaf with dinner the night we make it) too.
    Sarah
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  7. I enjoyed this post! 🙂 Your tortillas sound yummy and the pictures are cute (especially the last one of the “3 bakers”). 🙂
    Blessings from Georgia, Patti M.

  8. Yummmmmmmmmm! Now, when can you come and make them at MY house?

    I’m curious — since you no longer use a press, the rolling pin is made of what? I get frustrated with my wooden rolling pin (and I don’t have a “cozy” for it, not even sure where to get one), but we eat tons of store-bought tortillas and would love to make our own. We’ve done corn, just never wheat.

    Also, what kind of grain do you buy and where? I buy flour in a bag at the supermarket (gasp, I know!) and would love to know more about grinding what I need instead. Tips?

    Thanks for the photos! Abby is so cute! And I love the aprons! Is there a pattern that you’ve used?
    ——
    I’m not sure what the rolling pin is made of, but we bought it at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and I love it.

    We buy Organic Hard White Wheat in buckets. I think it can often be purchased through coops. Our is just through a lady who has a small, home business (she orders just once a year).
    Sarah
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  9. I love Abby’s proud and happy face – she loves being included in ‘grown up’ activites – you aunties are the B E S T! I love baking, and my younger siblings love to ‘help.’ 🙂 My youngest sister, however, usually ends up being sometimes more messy than Abby! BTW, where to buy your grain? We have two grain mills/blender, but we just don’t know how to use them! Got some tips!?
    ———-
    We buy Organic Hard White Wheat in 45 lb. buckets. I think it can often be purchased through coops. Our is just through a lady who has a small, home business (she orders just once a year).

    Our Nutrimill grinder is very simple to use, and our previous mill (different brand) also was great and lasted MANY years. Are yours electric or hand-grind?

    Sarah
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  10. When I have made these in the past, they come out so hard/crispy. How do you get them softer for the intial use? I buy tortillas from our natural food co-op and it cost me about $45 a month so making these would really be great as I buy huge amounts of wheat berries already for all our flour needs (do you use hard or soft wheat berries…maybe if I used softer since there isn’t yeast here that would help???). Burritos are our favorite lunch so I would really like to master these…
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    My guess is your heat is too high on the fry pan, and/or you’re cooking them too long. They really don’t require much cooking. I should have timed it when I did them Sunday, but I didn’t. I would try your heat turned down to 300-325 on the fry pan, and cooking them until just past the “dough” stage. Then, as you stack them, they will stay soft. Oh, I also cover mine with a towel to prevent them from drying out. We use hard white wheat berries. Hope this helps!

    Sarah
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  11. All,

    If you have a Whole Foods in your area, they say that they sell grains in bulk, but I would imagine they are a bit expensive. We are getting one here opening sometime this year, so that is one of the things I am going to find out because my son can eat his weight in oatmeal, and I would try my hand at grinding my own flour if I had the chance. I may have to ask for a mill for Christmas. There is also a local food co-op here,, so you might look for a local one where you are located. Most local co-ops (like the grain elevators you see) are simply places where farmers store their wheat harvested out of the fields until they want to sell it, or it wheat already sold by farmers awaiting transport to be shippped.

    Sarah, this looks seriously easy, and I may have to coerce my daughter into helping me with this. She loves to piddle in the kitchen, so this would be ideal. One question though, does grinding your own flour change the flavor and texture in baked goods (cakes, cookies, etc.)? I hope you and your family made it though all the snow and terribly cold weather without any major repairs or illnesses.

    K.
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    Yes, you’ll find your baked goods will change, but we enjoy whole wheat rolls, bread, and tortillas. Now, for the cookies and other similar items, since we’re already eating a treat, we leave them with white flour :-). Yes, we’re great after the storms. We didn’t get much snow here.
    Sarah
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  12. I’m so grateful that you posted this. We have gotten away from most pre-made foods because of the preservatives. The one hold over that I’m having a hard time giving up is the convenience of pre-made tortillas that we buy from Sam’s and use all of the time. I read the back of the label a couple of months ago and saw hydrogenated oils on the ingredient list…yuck! I’ve been trying to give them up since then. You made it look so easy. I also kept saying we’ll have to wait until we can afford a tortilla press, but obviously we don’t need one. I think I’ll grind some wheat and make some tortillas tonight. Thanks!

  13. Who is the person in the background in picture # 11? I can see Anna and Sarah, but the person in the left – is that Mary?
    I love the last picture, and the aprons are very cute!
    >>>>>>>>>>
    Pretty sure it is Teri.
    Steve

  14. Hi there, I just wanted to say a big thank you for all the time that you put into your website and these blogs.

    I just found them for the first time last night, and have been reading and reading them (in my spare time) and have found them so encouraging.

    I have come across many ideas which challenge the way I do things currently, but I feel it is God directed, and a necessary part of my own growth, and that of our family too.

    It is a real blessing to see how your family does things and how well everyone has grown up and God-centred everyone is, and how devoted you all are to each other and to God. It gives me hope for the years ahead, with my own little young family!

    I love that these blogs are regular and that you have a comments section, so we can read ideas from other people as well.

    Thank you again, and God bless you all!

    from Lisa (in New Zealand – you should come here!)
    —–
    Thank you, Mrs. Lisa, for your encouragement. Our desire is to bless and encourage others, even in “normal” daily life.
    Blessings,
    Sarah
    —–

  15. Our family loves homemade tortillas and we just put several batches in the freezer last week. My kids love to help cook them and it does help the process go quicker! 🙂 Your recipe is basically the same as mine, although I don’t remember where my mom got it, but we’ve been making them since I was a kid! Fun pictures and love the aprons!

    ~Jessica

  16. Making these for supper. Thank you for the recipe! And, as a visual learner, I found the pictures helpful, too.

  17. these look great – i used to be good at making my own bed (ie, do it regularly), but have got out of doing it since my last baby was born. I got some flour for a good price (grinding your own is not an option readily and inexpensively available in the UK! :-s ) so I plan to start again. I have got back to making my own pizza dough, so the tortillas would be another nice thing to try! thanks!

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