How Long Do Corn Tortillas Last (And Why)?

Exact Answer: Up to 8 months

A tortilla is a popular flatbread derived from Mexican culinary traditions. Tortillas can be made with a variety of base ingredients including corn, flour, and whole wheat. This base ingredient determines the longevity of the product. Apart from the store-bought, packaged tortillas, making them at home is also a common practice.

Tortillas have a versatile and extensive role to play in a variety of Latin American delicacies. Famous dishes like burritos, quesadillas, and tacos are made with this special flatbread. Corn tortillas can also be deep-fried to make tortilla chips. Moreover, when stored under the right conditions, tortillas can be used over an extended period of time.

How Long Do Corn Tortillas Last

Unopened and sealed corn tortilla packets can be stored well for a long duration. The sole concern for storing these otherwise perishable items is to keep them away from humidity and high temperatures.

Corn tortillas are known to have one of the longest shelf lives when compared to those made with other base ingredients like flour or wheat. Under optimal storing conditions, corn tortillas remain fresh and usable for prolonged periods of time.

The shelf life of the corn tortilla varies in proportion to the condition of the product. If a sealed pack of corn tortillas is kept in the cupboard, then the duration of its usability is severely compromised. Such a pack of corn tortillas will only last for 7-10 days.

When you refrigerate a sealed pack of corn tortillas, you essentially help extend the shelf life of the product. If a packet of corn tortillas is refrigerated under the right temperature settings, they will remain fresh for up to 8 weeks. Refrigeration of the product helps extend its longevity and preserves its freshness.

Corn tortillas stored in the freezer remain viable for consumption for the longest time duration. Freezing a pack of corn tortillas will extend the longevity of the product for up to 8 months. However, handmade tortillas have a shorter shelf life and must be consumed within a shorter window of time.

Once the seal is broken, corn tortilla packets must be refrigerated and consumed within 7-10 days. In the cupboard, an unsealed corn tortilla pack will only last for 2-3 days.

In Summary:

Condition of StorageDuration of Shelf Life
Cupboard (Sealed)7-10 days
Cupboard (Unsealed)2-3 days
Refrigerator (Sealed)6-8 weeks
Freezer (Sealed)6-8 months
Refrigerator/Freezer (Unsealed)7-10 days

Why Do Corn Tortillas Last This Long?

The longevity of corn tortillas is a result of the starchy nature of its base ingredient. Corn tortillas outlast their flour or wheat-based counterparts because they are made with a cornmeal base. This makes them more durable than any other core ingredient used in the manufacturing of tortillas.

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Much like other perishables, when storing corn tortillas, the goal is to delay the process of decay and the growth of harmful microbial contaminants. The seal of the packet is the most important barrier between the infectious contaminants on the outside and the food product inside. The chances of retaining the freshness of the product remain quite high as long as the seal remains unhindered.

When stored in the cupboard, corn tortillas have a limited shelf life because the heat of the outer environment accelerates the process of decay. This may also result in the formation of mold or other microbial growths on the tortillas.

Refrigerating the pack eliminates this catalyst of decay. Under cool conditions of storage, the sealed pack of corn tortillas is protected from any form of bacterial or fungal contamination. The colder subzero temperatures of the freezer help extend the durability of the product even further.

Nevertheless, if a packet of corn tortillas has been opened, it is vulnerable to microbial contaminations. Keeping it out in the cupboard will make the possibility of fungal growth more plausible. Refrigerating the unsealed pack can help decelerate the process of decay. However, the constant freezing and thawing of the product can truncate its shelf life.

Conclusion

Tortillas have become a part of the long list of comfort foods for most people. Their simple and healthy constituents make them a popular choice for most individuals. The diversity of their usage is an added advantage. The only catch in using these flatbreads remains the dilemma of storing them.

When stored under conducive conditions, corn tortillas can be enjoyed over a prolonged period of time. Keeping them away from moisture and fluctuating temperatures is key. Refrigerating or freezing the sealed pack can help increase its longevity. However, once the pack is opened, the contents must be consumed at the earliest.

References

  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2621.1984.tb10430.x
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0260877410003572

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