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Is there any better snack than tortilla chips with guacamole and salsa? It never fails, even as a side dish to some pasta, soup, or sandwiches, while being the primary ingredient in nachos. The thing about tortilla chips is not many people know what’s in them. Most people eat them and assume they are better for you than potato chips. Let us find out what tortilla chips are made of.
Tortilla chips are made of dry flour or fresh masa, a dough made from ground nixtamalized corn. Varieties of yellow, white, whole grain or blue cornmeal varieties are used for masa flour. Salt, oil, and flavoring are also added. Some brands mix wheat flour with corn flour to make tortilla chips.
The corn goes through a process before it becomes masa and can be used for making tortilla chips. Tortilla chips also contain oil, salt, and flavorings. Now let us discuss the process of masa and how other ingredients are incorporated when making tortilla chips.
What Do Tortilla Chips Contain?
The primary ingredient in tortilla chips is masa, a maize dough. Masa comes from ground nixtamalized corn. Nixtamalized corn is the process in which corn is dried, and the dried kernels are then cooked and steeped in an alkaline solution like lime water.
The corn is then washed and hulled. Hulling is the process used to remove the outer covering of the corn. The corn is then ground into a dough. You can make tortilla chips from this fresh masa dough.
Fresh masa dough is usually dried and powdered, creating masa flour, also known as masa harina. You can buy the flour in stores to make tortilla chips. The masa flour is what tortilla factories use to make the chips we buy in ready-made bags from grocery stores.
Varieties of yellow corn, white corn, whole grain, and blue cornmeal can be used to create tortilla chips for different textures, color shades, and flavors.
Do Tortilla Chips Contain Anything Other Than Masa?
Apart from the primary ingredient, masa, tortilla chips contain oil, water, and salt. These ingredients are mixed with masa flour to create a dough rolled into a sheet and then cut into the desired shapes – typically triangles.
The salt, water, and oil help create the dough, provide a little flavor, and help preserve the chips. Flavored tortilla chips will also contain flavorings like cheese or BBQ. The flavoring spices are added as soon as the chips are fired and removed from the oil.
From the above, we can see the main ingredients that tortilla chips are made of are:
- Fresh masa or masa flour (made from corn)
Is Flour Used To Make Tortilla Chips?
Masa harina is flour made from corn and is used to make tortilla chips. Most tortilla chips are made from 1000% ground corn. That is the reason why most tortilla chips are gluten-free. There are tortilla chip brands that tend to mix wheat flour and corn. Those tortilla chips would then contain gluten.
You often find wheat flour tortilla products in wraps and soft taco shells. The chips are more often made from corn and used for eating with dips like guacamole and salsa. Another common way tortilla chips are eaten is in nachos.
Are Tortilla Chips Healthy?
Most people believe that tortilla chips are healthy or a healthier option. And while it can be, it is not always the case. Corn tortilla chips are gluten-free, but gluten-free does not always mean healthier.
Tortilla chips are much lower in calories and fat compared to potato chips. You can enjoy them as a healthier option if you have them in moderation. Traditional corn chips contain three basic ingredients: vegetable oil, corn, and salt. The flavoring can add extra salt and calories, but they are a better option overall.
The one reason that tortilla chips are not necessarily healthy is that they are fried in oil. Oil frying corn chips significantly increase their fat and calorie count, not forgetting that deep frying is never a healthy option.
Tortilla chips can be much healthier if baked instead of fried. Some brands bake them to provide that healthy option. If you are looking out for your health, it is best to buy tortilla chips that are baked, not fried.
Original tortilla chips with no additional flavorings and preservatives will also be a healthier option. When you have flavored chips, they contain more calories, sodium, and fat. Just as you get healthier options for potato chips, you can choose better options for tortilla chips. Tortilla chips will be better if you compare the two because of their ingredients.
Are Tortilla Chips Made From Tortillas?
Do you ever wonder if tortilla chips are made by cutting up and frying a bunch of tortilla wraps? Yes and no. Ready-made, original tortilla chips that you purchase in stores are in factories that produce tortilla chips. They make the chips directly from masa flour.
If you want to make tortilla chips at home, you can use an easy method by cutting up some corn tortilla wraps. You can rub oil and your desired spices over and bake or fry them till crispy. It gets done quickly and comes out super tasty. The best part is that you have not added unhealthy preservatives, sodium-filled spices, or flavorings.
How Does Tortilla Chips Taste?
The taste and texture of anything you eat will depend on what is in it and how it is made. The same goes for tortilla chips. The nixtamalization helps the tortilla chips to be thinner and less rigid. Adding the oil and salt gives it some flavor. Frying the chips also adds additional flavor. If the tortilla chips contain a cheesy, BBQ, smokey, spicing, you will get that favor when eating the chips.
Time To Enjoy Some Tortilla Chips
The next time you pull out a bag of tortilla chips for nachos or to enjoy with salsa, you will know what they are made of and what to look out for in the ingredients. The primary components of tortilla chips are masa flour, oil, salt, and water. Anything else is additional, and you want to be mindful of that.