Tortillas are such a versatile food option, and I use them in several meals. Sometimes I consider buying them in bulk, never having to run out, but my biggest concern is, do tortillas go bad or expire?
Tortillas do go off and have expiry dates. You can keep tortillas for a long time because they are made with few ingredients, but as with all food, they will eventually get hard, smell off, and grow mold. Different types of tortillas will have expiry dates depending on the ingredients involved.
Tortillas don’t go off very quickly, and sometimes you can still use them. They do expire because they are edible food but have different lifespan lengths depending on the ingredients in each kind of tortilla. We will take a look at all the aspects involved in the lifespan of tortillas below.
- Do Tortillas Go Bad?
- Do Tortillas Expire?
- What Causes Tortillas To Go Bad?
- How To Know If Tortillas Have Gone Bad
- Can You Use Expired Tortillas?
- Can You Use Spoiled Tortillas?
- Is It Safe To Consume Expired Tortillas?
- How To Store Tortillas To Preserve Them
- Do Homemade Tortillas Go Bad Faster Than Store-Bought?
- How Long Will Tortillas Be Good After Opening?
- How To Store Prepared Tortillas To Prevent Spoilage?
- It’s A Wrap!
Do Tortillas Go Bad?
Besides having an expiry date, tortillas typically have a best before the date that determines the edible time frame, which manufacturers measure by the best quality of the product. Manufacturers have to do this for safety reasons. However, if it passes the best by date, it simply means that the quality of the ingredients will start to deteriorate from that point onwards, and you should start looking out for any rotting.
Tortillas will eventually start to go off if you don’t freeze them. The refrigerator will preserve it for a bit longer, and leaving it out at room temperature will cause it to go off within a couple of days.
Do Tortillas Expire?
Like any other edible food item, tortillas do go off even if it takes a long time. You can find the printed expiry dates on the packaging, and it is necessary to check them before you purchase any tortillas.
There is a range of tortillas, such as corn, flour, whole wheat, spinach, beetroot, and homemade. Each one will have a different lifespan depending on the specific ingredients that make up each kind and how long they will last before expiring.
Take a look at the shelf life of some standard tortilla options below:
The Shelf Life of Tortillas
Flour tortillas contain regular flour that you would use for making any dough-based recipes. They last about a week in the pantry at room temperature. They will hold up for about a month in the refrigerator and 6-8 months in the freezer.
Corn tortillas contain Masa Harina from ground nixtamalized corn and is a form of flavored corn flour. The corn tortillas hold up for 7-10 days in the pantry and up to 2 months in the refrigerator. They last about 6-8 months in the freezer.
Whole Wheat Tortillas
Whole-wheat tortillas, similar to flour tortillas, contain whole wheat flour instead of the regular one. They last for about a week in the pantry at room temperature. They hold up for a month in the refrigerator and up to 6-8 months in the freezer.
Spinach tortillas are made with actual spinach leaves and will last about a week at room temperature. It will hold up for a month in the refrigerator and last 6-8 months in the freezer.
Homemade tortillas are not processed for long-lasting shelf life and will last for only 2-3 days in your pantry, a week in the refrigerator, and 6-8 months in the freezer.
What Causes Tortillas To Go Bad?
The basic answer to this question is that tortillas are a food item, and food goes bad. To get into a little more detail – you have to explore the concept that the combination of the ingredients, exposure to oxygen, change in temperature, and lighting all affect the quality and lifespan of tortillas.
Take a look at some of those components below:
The main ingredients in tortillas are some form of flour base and water. Flour is a long-lasting dry ingredient, but when combined with water, it can ferment in certain conditions. Even if the tortillas are not raw, over time, the contents change in texture by separating. They form bacteria and ferment. That causes the tortillas to go off and smell bad.
If the tortillas contain other flavor ingredients like spinach, beetroot, sweet potatoes, black beans, etc., they will go off much faster, especially in your pantry. Those are fresh foods used in tortilla recipes and will go off like any other recipe where you use them.
Another ingredient that most tortillas have (while some recipes don’t) is oil. Oil tends to go rancid after a long period. Oil going rancid can cause your tortillas to go off.
Temperature & Exposure
Food changes its elements and composure when switched between temperatures. If it is frozen, then hot, then warmed, then room temperature, and cold again, etc., it will eventually go off, and the texture will change.
If exposed to air (not sealed or covered correctly), it will get hard and grow bacteria and mold. The texture is not a huge problem, but mold is unsafe to eat and a health risk.
Now take into consideration the combination of all these aspects happening in or around the same time frame. That’s why you will sometimes find that a particular batch of tortillas will last longer than others before going stale.
How To Know If Tortillas Have Gone Bad
You can look out for a few pointers when checking for stale tortilla wraps, such as texture, taste, smell, color change and spots, and mold.
If your tortillas are gone hard, crumbly, or slimy, there is a chance it is stale.
If the tortillas taste weird like crayons, lead, or have a sour smell, then they are probably gone off.
Any weird, sour or acidic smell will mean that your tortillas are stale.
Color Change & Spots
If your tortillas look like it has changed in color, either the entire tortilla, specific patches, or even some spots of color change will mean that it is off.
Mold spots on your tortilla will mean it is on its way to going stale, and if there are more than a few of them, it is entirely off.
Can You Use Expired Tortillas?
As mentioned above, you can use your tortillas if they have expired as long as they do not have any signs of staleness such as mold, smell, etc.
The expiry dates printed by the manufactures of the product are to ensure the safety and quality of the product and ingredients it contains.
The tortillas could last up to 2 weeks past their expiry date if it is at room temperature and for 2-3 months if frozen. It would be best to use it up as soon as possible because the ingredients will deteriorate faster. If there is any sign of spoilage, you should discard it.
Can You Use Spoiled Tortillas?
Spoiled tortillas would mean that there are signs of rotting, such as a change in texture, smell, color, and possible mold.
If your tortillas have hardened, you can bake or fry them. If they have turned crumbly or slimy, you discard them.
If your tortillas have changed color, it means it is off, and you should throw them away. The same goes for the smell.
If your tortillas have mold spots, you may cut the mold parts out and use the remaining. Heating it would be best to try and kill any bacteria. But this can be unsafe and a health risk. If you are doubtful or notice too many mold spots, it is best to discard them entirely.
Is It Safe To Consume Expired Tortillas?
You can consume expired tortillas if you have stored them correctly. If they were in the freezer, they would be safe to prepare and eat immediately. If they were at room temperature, you would need to first check for any signs of spoilage. If there are any signs, it will be a health risk, and you should discard them. If the tortillas were in the fridge, they would be safe, but you should check for signs of spoilage first.
How To Store Tortillas To Preserve Them
If you want to preserve your tortillas’ freshness, you can freeze them as soon as you purchase them. They will retain their composure and will last past the expiry date.
Tortillas keep super well in the fridge if you know you will use them within a few weeks. If you don’t use them fast enough and don’t want them to spoil, transfer them to the freezer, and they will hold up till you can prepare them.
If you keep your tortillas at room temperature, it is best to store them in your pantry, in a cool, dry spot, where there won’t be volatile temperature changes.
Exposure to temperature changes, excessive heat, sunlight, and humidity will cause them to rot and grow bacteria and mold.
Tortillas also keep best in their original packaging, sealed well. If the packaging is open, make sure to close it with a clip, tape, or transfer the wraps to a zip lock bag or air-tight container. You can also wrap the tortillas in foil which will help preserve the freshness.
Do Homemade Tortillas Go Bad Faster Than Store-Bought?
Homemade tortillas go bad much quicker than commercial ones. Homemade tortillas are made with only the necessary fresh ingredients, and the manufacturing, processing, and packaging methods of store-bought tortillas play a role in their longevity.
Store-bought products sometimes contain preservative components to help them last long, whereas homemade tortillas do not. That is why when you make tortillas at home, you have to use them up within 2-3 days or freeze them; otherwise, they will go off.
How Long Will Tortillas Be Good After Opening?
Once you open your packet of tortillas, it can go off quicker than an unopened package. That happens because the tortillas are exposed to air and bacteria. You should use your tortillas within 2-3 days if you keep them at room temperature.
The best method for storing your tortillas after you have already opened the packaging is keeping them in a sealed packet, container, or foil in the fridge. That way, it will last for about a week.
You can also freeze an opened packet of tortillas by making sure you seal it well first. It will hold up for about a month to 6 weeks in the freezer. Once the tortillas are opened, even if your store them properly, you might find that they will change in texture slightly. That does not mean they are gone off, but it is primarily because of the exposure to air.
How To Store Prepared Tortillas To Prevent Spoilage?
If you have prepared your tortillas (frying, baking, heating, etc.), you should pack them in an air-tight container with some paper towel on the sides of the wraps to absorb moisture and in the fridge. They will be okay for about 2-3 days stored that way.
You can also freeze your prepared tortillas if you need to keep them for a later time. Again, ensure that they are stored well in an air-tight container or cover them in foil and cling wrap to avoid freezer burn. They will hold for about 2-3 weeks in the freezer that way.
You must ensure they properly cool off before you pack them away, or else they will get mold from the moisture and humidity.
If you need to keep your tortillas out on the countertop for a few hours after preparing them, you can pack them in a container with paper towels to absorb moisture. Make sure the tortillas are completely cooled off before closing the container. Ensure that the kitchen is not hot and humid and keep it out of sunlight.
It’s A Wrap!
Tortillas have an expiry date and best before the date set by manufacturers, measured by the quality of the product and safety of eating it before it can start to deteriorate. Contrasting types of tortillas expire and go off at different times depending on the ingredients and manufacturing and packaging processes.
You can still use your tortillas past those dates after taking care of proper storage, preparation, and continuously checking for any spoilage before consumption.