Sunday, August 3, 2014

An Easy to Make and Easy to Use Tortilla Maker


The tortilla maker pictured above is nearly 70 years old.  You can make your own in less than an hour if you’ve got electrical tools and a little bit longer with hand tools.  All you need is a 1x10 inch board, a one-pound tin coffee can and a few nails or wood screws.  With a bandsaw the circular piece can be formed in about sixty seconds.  With a Dremel® tool the cutting strip is removed from the coffee can in less than a minute.  But you can use a coping saw to fashion the circular piece of wood and some heavy duty metal shears or even a hacksaw blade to cut the tin.


I decided to take this old tortilla maker out of storage and let it do what it was made to do decades ago.


The process is quite simple.  After you make the tortilla dough you plop a lump of it into the center of the circle as pictured above.  I experimented and placed wax paper under and over the tortilla maker and then I tried using a plastic baggie cut into two parts.  Of the two methods the plastic baggie worked best.





Place a pad of tortilla dough on the plastic in the center of the circular piece of wood as shown in the photo.  Now cover the dough with the other piece of plastic and carefully roll out the dough until it spreads past the tin lip.  The tin lip will cut off the excess dough leaving you with a perfectly round tortilla.


Carefully lift the dough off the circle then place the tortilla on the griddle and cook it.  It’s so simple you’re probably asking, “Why didn’t I think of that?”  My grandfather, Trinidad M. Valverde Sr. made the tortilla maker in the photos.  He’s been gone over forty years.  I think he would’ve liked knowing the old tortilla maker was used one more time.  But it’s too precious for me to mess up so I’ll go ahead and make a new one.  And then I’ll place the old tortilla maker in a spot where I can look at it and think about my granddad.  I learned a lot about the woods from him when I was a kid.  He knew every edible and medicinal plant in the Texas Brushlands.  He was a master carpenter.  And he loved to hunt and fish.  I miss him.

Corn Tortillas date back several thousand years in the Americas 

4 comments:

  1. Very cool. That's not how I thought it was going to be used. It looks like you could roll the tortilla out on the bottom board then cut it perfectly with the top piece like a cookie cutter. I'll have to make one of these for my wife. She learned from her grandmother and they always just roll them out on a board. Delicious, but not always perfectly round.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When my youngest son saw the tortilla maker he thought the same thing. The tin lip is about 1/8 inch above the round piece and thus acts like a blade to slice off the dough--like a cookie cutter but in reverse I guess. You could conceivably make a great big cookie cutter for tortillas except that the method used in this tortilla maker allows one to form a tortilla that is evenly flat and thus much easier to cook. Also, I think it's easier to just roll the dough out over the round piece than to try pressing out a tortilla. But that's an interesting idea you have (and my son) and if you decide to make a great big cookie cutter or I should say, tortilla cutter, then send me some pics so I can post them.

      Delete
  2. well, looking at it closer now I think the round cutter is attached to the board. So cookie cutter technique wouldn't work. Are they atached together

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, it's nailed on the bottom. But I think your idea is conceivable if you forego the bottom board and just place a handle on the round piece. The only problem would be that eventually the tin lip would fail if too much pressure was applied. But who knows. Give it a try and let us know how it turns out.

      Delete