11 January 2023
Tortillas is a type of low, unleavened bread, consisting of water and corn or wheat flour. It is a typical product of Mexico and in Spanish literally means “small cake”. The first tortillas discovered date back to 10,000 BC and were made of corn: a Mayan legend tells how this type of bread was invented by a farmer for his hungry king. Simple flour kneaded with water, crushed and cooked in the sun on a hot surface.
When Hernán Cortés arrived in present-day Mexico in 1519, he saw that the local inhabitants (Aztecs or other native Mexicans) produced a flat cornbread called TLAXCALLI, later renamed Tortilla; it was, however, a product similar to the popular breads found in the Semitic, eastern Mediterranean and South Asian countries, only thinner and smaller in diameter.
Now they have a size ranging from 6 to 30 cm depending on the region or dish for which they are intended, and generally are never consumed alone but stuffed for typical dishes such as burritos, quesadillas and tacos.
What are the main differences compared to our Piadina? In addition to the size of the dough (the piadina tends to be thicker and larger) in the latter it is expected to use animal fat – lard in general – while in tortillas it is totally excluded.
Both products are not leavened, although a handful of baking soda has been used in the piadina for almost a century.
Being light, the cooling time of the tortilla is short, but it is a fundamental phase to ensure the quality of the product and an adequate shelf life: after the oven and before packaging, it is good that this product, with a significant water activity and therefore potentially at risk of contamination, is cooled quickly in an environment with certain technical and sanitizing characteristics.
A cooling system such as the one proposed by Standard Tech, Cryorapid, able to actively control the weight loss of the product and, therefore, the amount of water removed during this delicate phase, allows to limit or even eliminate the use of preservatives to prevent contamination.
In addition, the increase in shelf life is guaranteed if combined with packaging in an aseptic environment such as Steril Tech clean rooms.