Corn tortillas today are made from masa harina, a special type of corn flour. While it should be naturally gluten-free, there is an issue with cross-contamination with gluten during processing and packaging. Several masa harina products are milled and packaged in facilities that also handle wheat, rye, and/or barley. Look for masa harina labeled "gluten-free."
Keep a bag of certified gluten-free masa harina in your pantry or freezer and you can make easy, delicious corn tortillas whenever you feel like it. All you need are three really simple ingredients, masa harina, salt, and water. A recipe doesn't get much more basic than that.
A tortilla press is not at all essential to making homemade tortillas but a press does make a nice, uniform tortilla quickly. Waxed paper and a piece of tile (or a plate) work amazingly well to shape tortillas without having to buy special equipment.
- 2 cups/232 grams gluten-free Masa Harina corn flour
- 1 teaspoon/5 grams Kosher salt (or sea salt)
- 1 1/2 cups/350 milliliters water (hot)
Put gluten-free masa harina and salt in a large bowl. Pour in about 1 cup of the hot water and mix with a large spoon. Add more water, about 1 tablespoon at a time until you are able to form a soft ball of dough. You may not need the entire amount of hot water to form a ball of dough that's soft, pliable and easy to shape.
Place the ball of dough on a clean surface and divide into 12 to 16 equal pieces. Roll into small balls and cover with a damp towel while you flatten each ball into a flat tortilla.
Heat a cast iron griddle or heavy safe non-stick skillet over medium heat. Don't add any fats or oil to the griddle.
Shape tortillas and then, one at a time, place each tortilla on the hot griddle and cook. Flip after about 1 minute or when the tortilla just begins to brown. This should take about 2 minutes. Stack cooked tortillas and wrap in a towel or place in a tortilla bowl to keep them warm until serving.
- Always make sure your work surfaces, utensils, pans, and tools are free of gluten. Manufacturers can change product formulations without notice. When in doubt, do not buy or use a product before contacting the manufacturer for verification that the product is free of gluten.
Masa Harina Nutritional Notes
Masa harina is made from dried corn that has been soaked in a special water solution called lime water. Soaking ground corn in lime water makes masa harina more digestible than plain cornmeal. The lime water, which contains calcium hydroxide significantly improves the nutritional value of corn flour.
An important nutritional feature of masa harina is that the niacin, or vitamin B3 is more easily absorbed than when it's bound in cornmeal that isn't soaked. Cultures that eat a diet high in untreated corn are at high risk for developing a severe niacin deficiency disease called pellagra.