Fresh tortillas, where have you been all our lives? Chewy, savory, and crispy-edged in all the right ways — they turn your shlubby Tuesday night tacos into an extravaganza!
To figure out how to make them, we went straight to the masters: Chocosol Traders. They’ve been working hard to champion local maize production and bringing traditional methods back into out kitchens with their Feast On Certified Tortilla Project.
“Our community-based tortilla project reflects our commitment to a crop-to-tortilla approach and provides customers with whole corn, stone ground, local, sustainable tortillas” said Michael Sacco. “Maize is rooted in 10 thousand years of culture, while corn has, for the most part, become an input in our industrial food system.”
They use organically grown purple maize raised by Bob Kerr from Wolfe Creek Organic Farms in Chatham. The maize is nixtamalized and stone ground in the traditional way. That means no gluten, it’s more digestible, and there’s no packaging in the process. Nixtamalization is the the lye-ing process that takes off the hard outer pericarp of the maize kernel and makes it more digestible while activating the niacin. When asked why purple, Bob Kerr mused, “Anthocyanins account for the purple colour of Purple Maize, more concentrated on a dry matter basis than blueberries. The indigenous people were definitely onto something.”
Sounds like a lot, doesn’t it? Well, the team at Chocosol teach workshops on making tortillas and also have them on offer at events and farmers market’s around Toronto. If you want to try your hand at making them yourself check out the recipe below!
PRO TIP: While you don’t have to have a tortilla press, it makes the whole process much easier and more fun. The beauty of the tortilla press is that it provides very even pressure, making perfectly round, thin tortillas batch after batch. If you don’t have a press, have no fear. Use a rolling pin to roll your tortillas as thin as possible. They won’t be perfect but they’ll still serve just fine as vehicles for tasty tacos fillings!
- 2 cups masa harina
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups hot water
- Whisk maize and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in 1 1/2 cups water; knead in bowl until dough forms. The dough should feel firm and springy and look slightly dry (think Play-Doh). Add more water by tablespoonfuls if too crumbly; add a little more masa if too wet. This is not an exact science -- it's more trial and error!
- If you have the time, cover the bowl with a towel and rest the dough for 15 to 30 minutes. This gives the masa time to fully absorb the water and improves the taste and texture of the tortillas.
- Measure 1 heaping tablespoon or so of dough and roll it into a ball. Flatten on a tortilla press lined with plastic -- used a cut open ziploc as it's a little thicker and sturdier than cling wrap.
- Heat a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat; lightly brush with oil. Cook 2–3 tortillas until charred in spots and edges start to curl, 1–2 minutes. Turn; cook through, about 15 seconds. Transfer to a kitchen towel; fold over to keep warm. Repeat, in batches, with remaining dough.
- They will keep in an airtight container or zip-top bag, refrigerated for up to 3 days. To reheat, dampen a kitchen towel slightly and wrap the tortillas loosely. Microwave in 30-second bursts until the tortillas are warm and pliable. Eat immediately!
- Any leftover tortillas that become too stale or dry to eat as tacos can be fried or baked into tortilla chips!