Corn tortillas are one of the most useful staples that you can have in your pantry. They can be used to make everything from homemade chips to a bread alternative for your favorite sandwiches. Of course, they also make great tortilla shells and are an important ingredient in many Mexican dishes.
Even though they have a relatively long shelf life, you may find yourself in a situation where you wonder, can you freeze corn tortillas?
Freezing corn tortillas is a great way to keep them fresh longer. To freeze them you’ll first want to flash-freeze them to keep them from sticking together. Then you’ll place them in freezer bags to keep them from drying out and prevent freezer burn.
What Happens When You Freeze Corn Tortillas?
When you freeze corn tortillas the growth rate of bacteria and molds will slow down significantly. This can make it so that the tortillas stay fresh much longer than they normally would. In the refrigerator, corn tortillas typically have a maximum lifespan of two months but could go moldy sooner than that.
In the freezer, corn tortillas can stay fresh for up to 6-8 months as long as they are stored properly.
There are a couple of issues that you may run into when freezing your corn tortillas. The first is that over time, the freezer can dry out your tortillas which can make them brittle. Then, when you try to use your tortillas to make tacos or chalupas they may break apart and not hold up well. This is because, without moisture, the tortillas cannot bend as well.
The other issue that you could run into is the tortillas sticking together. This occurs when the moisture in the tortillas freezes together, making the tortillas like one giant ice cube. Then, when you try to pull the tortillas apart they can break.
How Long Do Corn Tortillas Typically Last in the Freezer?
As long as they are packaged properly, corn tortillas can last for 6-8 months in the freezer before they should be thrown out. After 6-8 months the tortillas will have dried out more and their flavor will have degraded. At that point, it is best to purchase fresh tortillas.
If you do not package them properly, for example not placing them in an airtight container, the tortillas could dry out more quickly. In these cases, the tortillas may only last for a matter of weeks before they need to be thrown out and replaced.
How to Freeze Corn Tortillas
To get the best results when freezing your corn tortillas it is important to follow the correct process. By following this process you will be able to keep your tortillas fresh for several months without the tortillas drying out and breaking apart.
1. Let Them Cool (Fresh Tortillas)
If you have purchased fresh tortillas, it is important to let them cool down fully before putting them in the freezer. Warm tortillas attract excess moisture which could cause ice to form on the tortillas if they are frozen right away.
Try separating them and spreading them out for several minutes to allow the tortillas to cool down. This will also let any excess moisture evaporate and prevent the outer layers of the tortilla from becoming soggy.
2. Flash Freezing
One of the easiest ways to ensure that foods do not stick together in the freezer is by flash-freezing them.
To flash-freeze corn tortillas you will first prepare a baking sheet by lining it with a layer of parchment paper. Then you will lay the tortillas out on the baking sheet in a single layer. Make sure that none of the tortillas are touching each other or it will defeat the flash-freezing process.
Next place the tray of tortillas in the freezer for 1-2 hours. This will allow all of the moisture in the tortillas to freeze so they don’t freeze together once in the freezer bags.
As an alternative, you can use a small square of parchment paper between each tortilla in the stack. This will also help to keep the tortillas from sticking together and eliminate the need to flash freeze them.
Keep in mind this method is more time-consuming and the tortillas will need to be fully cooled before you can do this.
3. Put Them in Freezer Bags
After the tortillas have been flash-frozen it’s time to place them in the freezer bags. Depending on the size of the tortillas you may be able to fit multiple stacks into the same bag.
Stack the tortillas before placing them in the freezer bags. This will help to protect them and prevent them from breaking while they’re in the freezer. As long as they have been flash-frozen they should not freeze together.
After you have placed your tortillas in a freezer bag make sure to squeeze out as much of the air as possible. This is a very important step that will help prevent the tortillas from drying out. Generally speaking, you want to protect the tortillas from the cold, dry air as much as possible.
4. Pack the Tortillas in an Airtight Container
After all the tortillas are in freezer bags, it’s time to transfer them to an airtight container. This is also an important step that will help to protect the tortillas from drying out which can cause them to break apart.
It will also help to keep the tortillas from breaking as they are jostled around in the freezer. Frozen tortillas are prone to breaking if they are tossed around too much and keeping them in a rigid container can keep this from happening.
Once you are ready to thaw your tortillas the process is fairly simple. All you’ll have to do is remove the tortillas you want to thaw from the freezer and leave them on the countertop for a couple of hours.
Alternatively, you can also thaw them in the refrigerator but this will take longer and is unnecessary since tortillas do not immediately spoil at room temperature.
Although tortillas have a fairly long shelf life, sometimes you’ll need to save your tortillas for several months before you plan on using them. In this case, you’ll want to make sure that you store your corn tortillas in the freezer to prevent them from going bad.
To do this you’ll want to flash freeze them and then pack them into freezer bags where they will stay fresh for the next 6-8 months. Once you are ready to thaw them you’ll simply take the tortillas out and leave them on the counter until they have reached room temperature.