Tortillas are a type of Mexican cuisine popular around the entire world. They are a kind of unleavened bread that’s round, thin, and flat. You can use them to make quesadillas, burritos, wraps, and many other foods. They are becoming more and more popular as an alternative to thick slices of sandwich bread. Tortillas also come in a range of flavors, so you can find the option that best suits your taste buds.
If you’ve decided to buy some tortillas, there’s an important question you might have: do they go bad? More specifically: do flour tortillas go bad? Keep reading to find out how long different tortillas last and how to keep them fresh for as long as possible.
Do Tortillas Really Go Bad?
Tortillas, like most foods, do go bad. They can get hard and brittle, which makes them unappetizing. But, they can also grow mold and become dangerous to eat. When determining how long your tortillas last, first figure out if they’re made with wheat flour or corn flour. Corn tortillas are the more traditional type, but flour tortillas are also a common staple you can pick up at your local grocery store or whip up on your own in your kitchen.
Do Flour Tortillas Ever Go Bad?
Flour tortillas go bad, and they go bad faster than corn tortillas. This is because corn is heartier than flour and resists old better. Flour soaks up moisture more quickly and therefore molds easier.
While flour tortillas might seem like an affordable pantry item to stock up on, be wary of how much you buy, because they won’t last forever.
How Long Do Tortillas Last?
The time it takes for tortillas to go bad depends on a few different factors. It can be a couple of days or it can be months. Factors to consider include:
- Type of tortilla (wheat, corn, or flavored)
- How they’re stored (pantry, fridge, or freezer)
- Type of packaging (unopened or opened)
- How they’re packaged (airtight or improperly)
To see how long yours are likely to last, consider what kind they are and how you’re planning on storing them. This could also impact what kind you buy to ensure you don’t waste your money on food you can’t eat quickly enough.
How Long Can Tortillas Last Opened?
Tortillas can last anywhere from two days to two months once they’ve been opened. Unopened tortillas typically last much longer than opened tortillas. If they’re store-bought, the manufacturer’s packaging is the best packaging to make them last. Some tortillas even come with a resealable bag to zip them up in between uses.
Once you open tortillas, you expose them to air, moisture, and other conditions that can lead to condensation, mold, and other unfavorable conditions.
How Long Do Packaged Flour Tortillas Last?
Packaged flour tortillas usually last up to one week in a pantry or cupboard. They typically last up to one month in the fridge. Let’s look at how this compares to other tortilla types:
- Flour tortillas: Up to 1 week (pantry/cupboard) or up to 1 month (fridge)
- Whole wheat tortillas: Up to 1 week (pantry/cupboard) or up to 1 month (fridge)
- Spinach tortillas and other flavors: Up to 1 week (pantry/cupboard) or up to 1 month (fridge)
- Corn tortillas: Up to 7 – 10 days (pantry/cupboard) or up to 1 – 2 months (fridge)
- Homemade tortillas: Up to 2 – 3 days (pantry/cupboard) or up to 1 week (fridge)
Different types of tortillas have different lifespans mainly because of their ingredients. Pay attention to what ingredients are in your tortillas to get an idea of how long you can use them for your meals.
How Long Do Opened Flour Tortillas Last?
Opened flour tortillas don’t last as long as unopened flour tortillas. They also don’t last as long as opened or unopened corn tortillas. When looking at the rough timelines above, opened flour tortillas are more likely to last days instead of beyond a week. They’re also less likely to last an entire month in the fridge.
Once you open your tortillas, keep a close eye on how they look and smell before eating them. You should also always refer back to the date stamped on the packaging.
Can You Use Tortillas Past Their Expiration Date?
It may be safe to use tortillas past their expiration date. If you look at the original packaging, you should see a date. Tortilla packages either have a best-by date or an expiry date.
The best-by date tells you how long the tortillas will maintain their quality. Any time past the best-by date and the product might not be as good of quality. This means it could lose its flavor or not be as fresh.
The expiry date tells you how long the product is good for. Any time past the expiration date and the product risks going bad. This could mean it’s rotten, moldy, sour, or overall not safe to be eaten. In some cases, you might not have any problems eating tortillas past the expiration date, but you should be extremely careful.
Can Expired Tortillas Make You Sick?
Expired tortillas can make you sick. Some expired tortillas may show no signs of going bad and can be eaten with no problem. Others can make you sick, especially if they are made with flour and are extra susceptible to bacteria.
People in good health with strong digestive systems may not have any issues if they accidentally eat tortillas with a small amount of mold on them. Those that are particularly adamant about eating tortillas, even with mold, can remove the affected pieces and cook the tortilla. A vinegar wash is also a way to kill any mold.
People who should never consume bad tortillas, especially moldy tortillas, include pregnant women and individuals with digestive issues, digestive diseases, and food sensitivities. They could face more serious consequences from spoiled food and are better off purchasing a fresh pack or making a fresh batch.
How Can You Tell If Tortillas Are Bad?
The best way to tell if tortillas are bad is to use your eyes and nose. How do they look? How do they smell? You might even pay attention to how they feel.
Bad tortillas often smell musty or moldy. Any unusual smell is a warning sign they should be tossed in the trash. You should also look for any abnormalities in how tortillas look. Color changes, like dark spots, could be a sign that mold is growing. You might also see spots of mold actually growing on the tortilla. They could be black, greenish, or bluish, and might even have fuzzy white spots.
Finally, you might notice bad tortillas feel a bit different. If they feel wet or slimy, it’s usually a sign that mold is about to start growing, so you might want to toss them out.
How Do You Know If Flour Tortillas Are Bad?
To tell if flour tortillas have gone bad, check if they smell odd, feel slimy, or have any unusual color changes or mold growing. If anything about the flour tortillas is unappetizing, it’s probably time to get rid of them.
Tips to Make Tortillas Last
Luckily, there are many ways you can help make sure your tortillas last as long as possible. One of the main factors impacting tortilla quality is storage. With most foods, it’s important to properly store them to extend their shelf life and ensure they taste good when you finally eat them.
How to Store Tortillas
Store-bought tortillas left in the packaging can be stored in the cupboard, a pantry, the refrigerator, or a freezer. To extend the shelf life of tortillas for as long as possible, pop them in the freezer. This is ideal if you know you aren’t going to be consuming them for a while. Other tips include:
Keep them in an air-tight container: Keep your tortillas in the original package or an airtight container where air can’t get to them. Make sure it’s properly sealed with no moisture inside.
Store them in a cool, dry place: Make sure the unopened package is in a cool and dry area where there isn’t a lot of humidity or drastic temperature changes. That can create perspiration or condensation, which is the ideal environment for mold.
Consider the fridge or freezer: Storing tortillas in cold air can help them last longer. Similar to other fresh foods, heat can foster unfavorable conditions and make food go bad.
Don’t open them until you’re ready to eat: Don’t open your tortilla packaging until you’re actually going to cook with them or eat them. The longer you keep air away from them, the longer the shelf life of the tortillas.
How to Store Homemade Tortillas
Homemade tortillas are a special case. Tortillas are relatively easy to make with just some wheat flour or corn flour, water, and a little bit of salt. If you decide to make your own, make sure you store the leftover tortillas properly.
You should allow the hot tortillas to cool until they reach room temperature. To speed the process up, you may place a damp towel or paper towel over them. Once they reach room temperature, separate the tortillas. Consider placing a piece of parchment paper in between each one. Then, put them in an airtight bag or container. You may also wrap them in aluminum foil before placing them in the container for further protection.
Can You Freeze Tortillas?
Tortillas can be frozen, and freezing tortillas can make them last a long time. To freeze tortillas, place them in an airtight, freezer-ready container. Frozen tortillas usually last 6 – 8 months. This is much longer than a couple of days or a couple of months when they are kept on the shelf or in the refrigerator.
Once the package of tortillas is frozen, you will only be able to thaw them once. They should not be refrozen. If you know you won’t eat them all at once, consider breaking them up. For example, you can put individual servings in freezer bags and take them out as you want them.
Fixing Stale Tortillas
The best quality tortillas are fresh tortillas. However, that might not be an option for you. When kept in the fridge, tortillas often become hard, brittle, or stale. The best way to fix this is to warm them up, such as in a pan on the stove. If the tortilla still seems too dry after heating, you might get the best result from adding a drop or two of oil.
Overall, tortillas are a versatile food option that can be used to make a variety of different dishes. From enchiladas and burritos to quesadilla burgers and wraps, there are many different options to choose from. To ensure your tortilla meal is the best it can be, check the dates and make sure you’re eating tortillas that you can enjoy without stressing that they may have gone bad.