The days leading up to picking out a new piece of equipment for your kitchen are often full of research and shopping around. When you’re on the lookout for a tortilla press, it is no different. With a few other options to choose from, it can be a little confusing. Here’s a little pointer on how to choose between cast iron and aluminum.
What is a Tortilla Press?
The time it takes to roll a tortilla to perfection expertly is almost cut in half with a tortilla press. Most presses are manually operated with a base plate, a top plate, and a leaver on top that applies pressure evenly across the tortilla to create perfect textbook tortillas every time.
The press is often made from robust materials that can withstand pressure and use. There are less robust options, such as a plastic tortilla press; however, they tend to buckle and break easily.
Types of Presses
Tortilla presses come in several materials and shapes; each has its own benefits and disadvantages. These are the most common tortilla presses.
- Electric tortilla press – Talk about fancy, these presses not only make the tortillas, but they cook them too. They can be pretty pricy, and unless you are making stacks of tortillas each day, you might just opt for a manual version.
- Wooden tortilla press – Old school and robust these traditional presses are an aesthetically pleasing addition to your kitchen. They are not as robust and don’t last as long as the metal counterparts due to warping and cracking.
- Aluminum tortilla press – Made from aluminum, these are a popular and cost-effective choice for aspiring tortilla chefs. Aluminum presses are lightweight.
- Cast iron tortilla press – Hailed as the most effective tortilla press on the market, these are the strongest and most durable. They are heavy and do require a bit of additional care.
While there are benefits for each tortilla press, the most popular are cast iron and aluminum.
Durability and Longevity
Cast iron and aluminum are common materials used to make tortilla presses. They both have their advantages and disadvantages. Both options last long with proper care and use.
Cast iron is known to last longer than its aluminum counterparts if adequately maintained. Cast iron tortilla presses are long-lasting and can withstand knocks or minor drops without damage to the equipment; however, your floor might not get off so easily if dropped. Cast iron is a little more expensive than other options; however, they are lifetime pieces of equipment if looked after.
Cast aluminum presses are not as strong and may buckle over time and break under pressure. They are easy to clean and maintain; if you do not need to make tortillas on a regular basis, the aluminum press is a budget-friendly option.
Sizes and Weight
Tortilla presses come in a standard size that produces tortillas between 8 and 12-inches. The bigger tortilla presses are a better investment as they can make smaller tortillas when needed.
The cast aluminum tortilla press comes with a thin base; they are lightweight and easy to move around the kitchen. They are not likely to damage your countertops if you shift them around. They are great for making slightly thicker tortillas. Too much pressure on the press may lead to breakages.
The cast-iron press is made with a thick base and can withstand high pressure. The heavy top plate makes pressing tortillas easier. They are heavy, which would make them a little harder to clean. However, most cast iron cookware requires a gentle wipe with a damp cloth. The plates need to be seasoned once in a while.
Seasoning your tortilla press
To season your tortilla press, just follow these simple steps:
- Scrub your tortilla press very well, using hot soapy water.
- Dry the press thoroughly, making sure there’s no remaining moisture (otherwise, the oil that you apply in the following step won’t penetrate the metal).
- Spread a thin layer of vegetable oil or melted shortening over the tortilla press.
- Open your tortilla press and place it on a middle oven rack. Put some foil over a lower oven rack to catch any oil drips.
- Bake your tortilla press at 375 degrees F for one hour.
- Turn your oven off and let your tortilla press cool inside.
Once you’ve been using your cast-iron tortilla press for a while, you may see some black residue on your cast iron, which you’ll want to know how to handle. Black residue does need to be cleaned up to avoid buildup, and this is easy to do.
The Corn vs. Flour Debate
Tortillas come in two varieties: corn and flour. Both have different uses.
Corn tortillas are usually used for :
- Hard tacos (when the corn tortilla is fried and in a u-shape with filling inside)
- Tostadas (putting filling on top of a flat corn tortilla)
- Tortilla chips
Flour tortillas are most typically used for:
- Soft tacos (the flour tortilla is warmed, not fried, with the filling inside)
Most die-hard tortilla enthusiasts only ever use a tortilla press for traditional corn tortillas. A tortilla press might be a little too heavy to make a flour tortilla.
North Mexican flour tortillas are often made using a rolling pin and a floured work surface. This is due to the soft breakability of the flour-based dough. Corn flour, also known as masa, is a lot more robust and can withstand higher pressure during pressing.
When pressing flour tortillas with a press, place the dough ball between two pieces of parchment paper before pressing to ensure it doesn’t stick to the press.
A Quality Investment
Cast iron tortilla presses are a quality investment that can last a lifetime with proper care and maintenance. Tortilla presses are designed for easy tortilla making. Undoubtedly, it is a wise option to invest in a more robust tortilla press, as it lasts longer in the long run.
Enjoy making your own delicious tortillas!