If you’re anything like me you’ll want to have a stock of tortillas on hand at all times so you can make use of them whenever you want. On any given day I’ll have a stock of leftover tortillas in my pantry, plus some unopened tortilla packages. If my guests ever want a burrito, I’ve got them covered!
Obviously, buying lots of tortillas from the grocery store or making them at home poses some questions. Do tortillas go bad? If so, how long can you keep them for? What can you do to extend their life?
Today I’ll be answering all of these questions and more. Read on for my complete guide on everything you need to know about proper food storage for tortillas.
How Long Do Tortillas Last?
First, the bad news. Tortillas will go off if you leave them for too long. Depending how far gone they are, the effects of them going bad range from losing their freshness to being completely covered in mold!
Now, the good news – you can prolong their shelf life!
So, the next question is how long can you keep tortillas for? Well, there are a number of factors that influence how long you can keep them for:
What’s your tortilla wrap made from? Whether it’s made of corn, flour, spinach or whole wheat, different ingredients mean a different shelf life. A homemade tortilla also has a different shelf life vs a store bought tortilla.
Do you store your tortillas in the pantry, fridge or freezer? The moisture and temperature of the place you store them can have a significant impact on how long your tortillas last. A tortilla kept at room temperature will go bad before one kept in a cooler environment.
Opened vs Unopened Tortilla
Whether or not you have opened the packaging they came in can determine how long your tortillas last and what you can expect their shelf life to be. An unopened tortilla will tend to last longer than an opened one.
If you’ve bought tortillas from the store you’ll notice that there is an expiration date printed on the tortilla package. This is actually a ‘best before’ date – oftentimes you can enjoy the tortillas after this date has passed. Read on as we explain how long beyond this date you can confidently keep the various types of tortilla.
How long do Flour Tortillas last?
Unopened flour tortillas stored in the pantry will last for around 7 days after their printed expiration date. Storing them in the refrigerator can add an extra 4 weeks to their edible life, whilst the freezer can allow you to store them for up to 8 months beyond their best before date.
How long can you keep Corn Tortillas?
Corn tortillas have one of the longest ‘natural’ edible lives of the bunch. Stored in the pantry or kitchen cabinet, they will last for up to 10 days beyond the best before date. You can keep them for up to 8 weeks in the refrigerator or up to 8 months in the freezer.
When do Spinach Tortillas Expire?
Unopened spinach tortilla packs will keep for up to a week in the pantry. Stored in the cool confines of the refrigerator they’ll last for up to 4 weeks. Placing them in the freezer means that you can keep hold of them for up to 8 months.
How long do Homemade Tortillas Last?
One of the great things about homemade tortillas is their freshness so you’re probably less likely to want to store them for too long! With that being said, if you’ve made too many you can store them in the pantry for a couple of days. For longer term storage they should keep their freshness in the refrigerator for up to a week. If you want to enjoy them later in the year, they’ll keep in the freezer for 6-8 months.
How Can You Tell if Tortillas Have Gone Bad?
Now that we’ve spent some time talking about the lifespan of various tortilla types, it’s worth discussing how you can identify tortillas that have already gone off and are no longer safe to eat. The last thing you want to serve your guests is a rotten tortilla, after all!
One of the first signs that old tortillas aren’t as fresh as they were before is that they stiffen up and become a bit crunchy. However, this doesn’t mean that they are inedible. Rather, it just means they’ve lost some of their freshness and may not be quite as tasty as before.
However, there are some signs that are indicators that your tortillas have gone bad and should be thrown away and replaced. Below are some key signs that your tortillas have expired and should be thrown out:
This is an obvious one but if you see any visible mold on tortillas they have absolutely gone off and are unsafe to eat. They cannot be salvaged as it’s not safe to scrape off mold .
One of the telltale signs that tortillas of any type have gone bad is if they change in color. Tortillas that are still safe to eat should be the same color as they were when you bought or made them. If you notice any green or yellow tint on your tortillas, no matter how faint, you should throw them out. Of course spinach tortillas are already green – so be on the look out for any browning or yellowing in their color.
Once tortillas start to go off you may notice that their texture changes to become a bit slimy, almost wet – even if they have been in dry storage. If you notice this, you certainly need to discard the top and bottom tortillas. However, it’s worth checking the texture of the other tortillas as they may be unaffected and still edible.
If you notice that your tortillas smell a bit ‘off’, throw them away. This is a sign of mold reacting with the wrap – not nice at all!
After they’ve been left for some time, you may notice that your tortillas are no longer soft and flexible and instead have quite a stiff feel. I’ve listed this change last as this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are no longer edible. Instead it may be that they have gone a bit stale but are otherwise safe to eat. In fact, stale tortillas can be given a second chance by using them to make homemade tortilla chips!
The Taste Test
If you’re uncertain as to whether your tortillas have gone bad, we have a handy tip that will help you find out. Simply take one tortilla and cut a small section from the main wrap. If the tortilla tastes off, you know that you need to throw them out and get some new ones.
Now, we’ve been asked before what to do if you can’t bring yourself to taste the tortilla. Our answer? If you can’t, you probably subconsciously already know that it’s gone bad!
How Can You Extend The Shelf Life of Tortillas?
Like most foods, one of the main factors that can cause tortillas to go bad is moisture. Therefore it’s important to store your tortillas in a dry place to extend their shelf life.
You should also make sure that the temperature where you store them is consistent. This is because changes in temperature can encourage the moisture that is in the air (even in dry places) to form condensation within the tortillas’ packaging. This can speed up the formation of mold and cause your tortillas to spoil more quickly.
Do Tortillas Need to be Refrigerated After Opening?
A good rule of thumb is to store unopened tortillas in the same way as they were when you bought them. For example, if they were refrigerated in the cold aisle, you should store them in your refrigerator as soon as possible at home.
On the other hand, if the tortillas were not refrigerated, you can store them in your pantry or kitchen cabinets providing that they are dry and relatively cool.
Always try to avoid keeping tortillas at room temperature as they tend to spoil much faster.
Be sure to check the packaging on your tortillas as it will usually contain storage information. As long as you have space we do recommend storing tortillas in the fridge where possible as this will prolong their freshness whilst reducing the likelihood of mold forming.
How to Store Tortilla Wraps in the Fridge
If you haven’t opened your tortillas yet you can put them in the fridge in their original packaging. Once opened though you should make sure that you pack your tortillas back in the fridge to ensure that they last as long as possible.
Some brands sell tortillas in resealable packs. If you’ve picked up some of these, your job is easy: just reseal the pack and pop them back in the fridge!
If, on the other hand, your tortillas don’t come in a resealable bag, not to worry. To keep moisture away from the surface of the tortillas wrap them tightly in aluminum foil. If you’re after an alternative to aluminum foil, you can use a large ziploc bag or airtight container.
Can you Freeze Tortillas?
In almost all circumstances you can freeze tortillas to prolong their life. We say almost because there are occasions when the packaging advises against freezing. In these cases, follow the storage instructions on the packaging.
How to Properly Store Tortillas in the Freezer
To properly freeze tortillas, you’ll need to make use of freezer bags or aluminum foil. This is because the packaging that tortillas come in is typically not designed for freezing. Remove your tortillas from their packaging and portion out as many as you will typically use. For example, if you usually make 4 tortillas at a time to feed your family, place 4 in the same freezer bag or aluminum foil wrap. If you want more flexibility, store one tortilla per freezer bag/aluminum wrap.
The reason we recommend freezing your tortillas separately or in portions like this is that it makes it easy to defrost them before cooking without needing to defrost the whole stack and potentially waste any of them.
How to Defrost Frozen Tortillas
To defrost tortillas safely, a small amount of planning is needed. Take the portion, or number or number of tortillas you require if you’ve frozen them individually, out of the freezer the day before and place in the fridge. Leave in the fridge to defrost overnight, and take them out 30 minutes to an hour before you need them. This will allow them to heat up to room temperature and be ready to go.