When I wrote about chemicals in our food that are worse than the yoga mat ingredient (azodicarbonamide) in Subway’s bread, a lot of people mentioned how disheartening it was to try to eat well cause organic is just so darn expensive.
It is true that there’s a premium on organic foods. What a lot of people don’t have a clear picture on, though, is how much money they spend on convenience. It’s like a latte factor. Store-bought cookies and/or granola bars, instant oatmeal packages, boneless skinless chicken breasts, taking your lunch, and buying your coffee rather than making it at home are all prime examples of a pile of cash that goes out the window on stuff that only takes you an hour a week to do yourself. If you pick and choose some of your biggest drains on cash, plan smart, and dedicate a little time in the kitchen (truly, it doesn’t have to be a lot, especially if you plan well) you’ll have a lot more money at your disposal than you’d think.
So would you want to make tortillas? For your answer, just read the ingredient label of any store-bought tortillas. The last time I picked up a package of 6″ tortillas, there were no fewer than 15 ingredients in them, and they cost about $4 for a package of 6 store-bought tortilla with a bunch of chemicals and conventionally-grown white flour that’s probably been all sprayed up with glyphosate to boot before harvest.
What if I said you can make any tortilla you want to: whole wheat, white, or spelt with one easy recipe? What if I told you that they could be made with only 5 ingredients? And then what if I told you you could make a batch of 8 of them with organic ingredients for less than $2?
Hey, that’s less than half of what they cost for conventional!
Just by making food from scratch, you’re eliminating tons of additives and preservatives from your life. Pick and choose the worst of the commercial foods to spend the money on to buy organic. I personally like to recommend that if you can afford nothing else, choose organic and/or sprouted and/or stone-ground flour and items that are on the dirty dozen list.
A Note on Soaking Grains
How do you soak a grain? In a nutshell, you combine the flour with water and maybe an acidic substance and let it sit for a minimum of 12 hours, up to 24. Allegedly, this helps break down some of the grain and makes it more nutritive.
Soaking is a relatively new thing to me and something that I’ll state up front I’m pretty skeptical about. I’m not going to go in depth on my opinion of soaking or what it’s supposed to do, but given what I know about pH of water, vinegar, and our stomachs and given the very short duration for soaking, I’m inclined to write it off as a harmless practice that may have unproven health benefits. So far the only supporting evidence I’ve seen is anecdotal and is not hard science.
Whether you believe you ought to predigest your food for better nutrition or not, there’s other good reasons to soak some grains for at least 15-20 minutes. Oats and anything with a high percentage of bran are dry and require time to soften up and balance the liquid. They don’t tend to bake or blend as well in flours otherwise. Letting your dough rest also gives the gluten a chance to relax.
Watch the Cookware
You’re going to need something that can take a lot of dry heat. Enamelled cast iron, cast iron with a hard-dry seasoning and high smoking point, or the cast-iron griddle insert that comes with a gas range, or stainless steel. No Teflon. No cast iron pans with animal-fat seasoning.
Simple Flour Tortilla Wraps
|Prep time||40 minutes|
|Cook time||10 minutes|
|Total time||50 minutes|
|Dietary||Diabetic, Vegan, Vegetarian|
|Meal type||Bread, Side Dish, Snack|
|Misc||Child Friendly, Pre-preparable, Serve Cold, Serve Hot|
- 2 1/4 cups flour, divided (whole wheat, white, or spelt--your preference!)
- 1/4 cup olive or sunflower oil
- 3/4 cups warm water
- 1 pinch coarse salt
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Spelt wraps are very delicate and will require a little more flour and kneading to prevent tearing when rolling out. Cool tortillas completely before refrigerating or storing in a Ziploc bag in the freezer.
|Step 1.||In a bowl or a dish with high sides, combine 2 cups of the flour and the oil using a pastry cutter or a fork until no large lumps remain.|
|Step 2.||Add the salt, vinegar, and water, kneading only a few times with your hands until you get well-mixed ball of dough. If the dough feels dry or crumbly, add more water by the drizzle and mix again. The dough should be fairly moist and feel slightly oily. It will press together well, but not be very wet or sticky.|
|Step 3.||Cover the bowl with plastic and allow the dough to rest for 30 minutes, especially if you've used a whole grain flour, to let the gluten relax and allow the bran to absorb the moisture. If you wish to soak the grains, let sit for up to 12-24 hours.|
|Step 4.||With a sharp knife, divide the ball of dough into 8 pieces of roughly equal size. Pinch each piece into a ball, and flatten into a puck.|
|Step 5.||Set the remaining 1/4 cup of flour in a small bowl or saucer. Dip each puck of dough in the flour and roll out into a rough circle as thinly as possible, flipping over occasionally. Ideally, your flattened dough will be nearly translucent. Finished tortilla will be about 6 inches across.|
|Step 6.||Preheat an ungreased cast-iron griddle (such as comes with a gas range) or a steel skillet to a high enough heat to make a droplet of water dance on the surface. Level off the temperature at this point to keep from overheating, if using steel.|
|Step 7.||One at a time, carefully transfer your tortilla to the skillet, spreading it flat lightly with your fingers. In under a minute, bubbles and small brown areas will begin to form on the surface. Using a spatula or silicone-tipped tongs, flip the tortilla over and allow the other side to brown the same way. Air pockets may form inside the tortilla when flipped (this is desirable and will enhance the flakiness). |
|Step 8.||Store the cooked tortillas in a tea towel until they are all cooked and ready to serve. A fully-cooked tortilla will not have a dark, wet-looking appearance, and will not taste like soggy dough. If the tortilla appears wet, let your griddle's temperature increase and allow it to cook a little longer.|
|Step 9.||If you wish to freeze the tortillas or save them for later, cool them completely before storing in a plastic ziploc bag.|