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Tortilla Presses: Overview

Tortilla presses make it easy for cooks to create nice round tortillas

Skilled Mexican cooks are able to press out a corn or flour tortilla in no time using their hands. Tortilla presses, or tortilladoras, make it easier and quicker for the rest of us to turn out these wonderful round objects.

Presses are used mainly for corn tortillas, although the flour versions can also be flattened between the plates. Either way, to prevent sticking, you should place plastic on both sides of the dough before pressing out.

Presses come in a variety of materials. It is up to you which product to use, but here are a few suggestions. Note that standard sizes range from 6.5 inches to 10 inches in diameter.

Plastic. Inexpensive, but over time, these models may not be able to take the pressure needed to press out the dough.

Wood. Be selective - know the type of wood these are made of. Hardwoods such as mesquite will hold up well to the pressure, while pine is probably not a good choice. Some of the are bulky, but the wood models are still commonly used in Mexico.

Electric. Easy to use and usually have a large-diameter griddle plate. Some traditionalists believe you won't get the true flavor - or necessary brown spots - with the plug-in models. If you like to make other types of flatbreads, however, these are versatile enough to handle everything from foccacia to moo shoo pancakes.

Cast Aluminum. A good choice for easy clean up, but can be a bit on the lightweight side. Some have been reported to break under the pressure of pressing the dough.

Cast Iron. You'll find these in local mercados and are recommended for their weight and strength. Don't worry if the finish looks rough - your dough should never touch the plates, anyway, as you'll be covering them in plastic wrap. They still require special care, however, as rust can easily form after several washings.

If you purchase anything but cast iron products, make sure it states that the handle is "leveraged."

You may need a little practice to get the hang of making tortillas with a press. Don't worry if they're not perfectly round every time - they'll still be so delicious that no one will care.

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