Tortilla presses are not all made the same. They are available in cast iron, wood and even an electric model. Tortilla presses are used for making corn tortillas and flour tortillas are generally just rolled out with a wood rolling pin. Read on to discover which version is best for you.
Cast Iron Tortilla Press: Types and Buying Tips
You can find several different types of tortilla presses on the market. Some have more benefits than others and some actually work better than others do. You can make an informed decision after you learn about each type of tortilla press.
Exactly What is a Tortilla Press?
In Mexico, a tortilla press is called a “tortilladora.” It is a simple metal or wooden tool including a base, top and handle and it’s used for making corn tortillas. You simply place balls of masa in the center of the press and apply pressure with the top so the dough is flattened out into a round tortilla.
The Traditional Manner to Make Tortillas
The traditional method of making corn tortillas is an option to a tortilla press. It is used in both Indian and Spanish countries. The word for tortilla is the Spanish version and the Indian word is tlaxcalli. This involves making your masa and flattening the dough balls between your hands. It takes skill to pat the dough back and forth and create a perfect, round, and thin tortilla. Another method is to flatten the dough balls on a banana leaf while turning the leaf with one hand and patting it out with the other hand to form a nice and uniform tortilla. The modern manner to make tortillas is with a press or you can just buy them ready-made in the store. However, once you’ve made your own homemade tortillas, you will find that the flavor is really so much better than store-bought.
The Traditional Cast Iron Tortilla Press
Many chefs and experts will only use an authentic cast iron tortilla press for their fresh Mexican creations. You simply place your ball of dough on the bottom plate and close the top on it with one simple press–and viola!! You have made a tortilla very quickly. This is a real time saver if you are making several tortillas at once.
The primary advantage of using a cast iron tortilla press is the weight of the press to gain leverage, so you don’t have to press as hard downward to create your delicious flatbreads. If you make a lot of tortillas and quite frequently, this is the best type for you. The only downside is that the press weighs about 6 to 8 pounds, so you don’t want to have to lift it and move it around. Just place it in a good workplace in your kitchen and you’ve got it.
What Are the Sizes of Cast Iron Tortilla Presses?
The most common sizes of cast iron tortilla presses are 6 inch and 8 inch. The traditional cast iron presses are still made in Mexico and South America, although China is manufacturing a substandard product made of plastic or aluminum. These versions break easily and make your pressing job much harder.
What Kind of Finishes Are Available?
You have a choice of three different finishes for a cast iron tortilla press. The classic silver coating on the top and bottom or outside of it is typical for a Mexican manufactured press. It’s a painted on finish to prevent the cast iron from rusting. The appearance is quite rustic, but it doesn’t matter because your dough never comes in contact with the exterior of the press. These types of presses seem to be the least expensive. Powder-coated presses have an electrostatically applied finish. It’s smooth t the touch and it doesn’t flake as the classic silver coating does after it ages. This is a better choice to have a clean looking exterior finish. You can also get an unfinished tortilla press. It has a very light sealant coat on it, but no paint on the surface. Do remember though, that you can’t soak your cast iron cookware and kitchen helpers in water and they must be dried well after wiping them clean before you store them or they will rust.
The Cast Aluminum Tortilla Press
Cast aluminum tortilla presses are lightweight and easy to handle. It’s also pretty and shiny, but being lightweight has its drawbacks. You have to press much harder with this type of press so you can get a good workout, but you may not like this fact if you make a lot of tortillas. Also, if you apply too much pressure, you can make it snap and break your press. So, if you are planning on making delicious homemade tortillas more than once, you should get a higher quality product, such as cast iron.
The Wooden Tortilla Press
Wooden presses are quite pretty but have an overall larger footprint on your countertop than the other versions. They are commonly 8 inches square to enable you to make 8 inch tortillas. You should look at the types of wood it is made from to choose a good version. Many wood presses are made of pine, which is very softwood, and they don’t hold up for long periods of time. Look for a wooden press made of a quality hardwood of oak or mesquite. Wood presses do have a significant downside. The bolts and hinges are usually steel and in being so, they are highly prone to rust. It doesn’t affect the usefulness of the press, but rusty things don’t look nice in your kitchen.
The Electric Tortilla Press
As with most items that you use in your kitchen, it was inevitable that someone would make an electric version of a tortilla press. To use this kitchen gadget, you simply plug it in, place a ball of dough between the two plates and press to make your tortilla and then it automatically bakes it for you while applying heat to both sides. This is a quick manner to have fresh, homemade tortillas. You can also make flatbreads such as pita, Roti, Gyro and Moo Shoo Pancakes and Foccacia. The plates are 10 inches round and made of heavy weight cast aluminum to distribute heat evenly. It’s designed to be stored setting up on its end for compact storage too. The biggest disadvantage of this type of tortilla press is that you may have to test the different temperature settings to get your dough cooked to your liking and of course, it’s quite expensive too.
So there you have it. You can choose a reliable and long-lasting cast iron tortilla press, the lightweight style of cast aluminum to add to your workout routine and strengthen your arm muscles or an electric version, which may be expensive if you aren’t making tortillas on a regular basis.