The original tortilla was made from nixtamalized† maize/corn flour. However, today’s tortillas are commonly made from less nutritious, less flavorful wheat flour. Wheat is easier to work with. While maize/corn tortillas have a heartier texture and flavor, the gluten in wheat flour tortillas enables them to be made larger and thinner without breaking.
†Nixtamalization is a process that prepares the maize/corn, in which the grain is soaked and cooked in an alkaline solution, usually limewater, and hulled.
For better flavor and nutrition, go for the corn tortillas (wheat tortillas also provide more flavor and nutrition). Another benefit of corn tortillas: they can be gluten free, depending on the manufacturer (Mission tortillas are gluten free). Check the package. Some brands add wheat gluten to corn tortillas to tackle the breaking problem.
Yet, nothing beats the flavor from homemade corn tortillas. Today’s commercial soft corn tortillas are made by stirring hot water into instant masa/corn flour, which is to regular masa what instant mashed potatoes are to the real thing, or what bouillon cubes are to homemade chicken stock.
If you want to make the best corn tortillas ever, buy artisan hominy from Anson Mills and make their tortilla recipe. Their hominy is to supermarket hominy as…well, you get the picture.
You won’t believe how good a tortilla can be until you make these. We like to make them on Saturday morning and enjoy them all weekend.