Tortillas are delicious and versatile menu items that are found in kitchens all over the world. These nutritious staple is affordable and comes in large packages. I find I often don’t eat everything I get from the store, and after a few days, I end up tossing half the pack.
Recently I got to thinking that maybe I could save some waste and toss unfinished tortillas right into the compost pile. I like variety, too. I often have some spinach tortillas, maize flour, wheat flour, plain flour tortillas, and tortilla chips floating around the kitchen, and now I want to see if I can compost them all.
Can Tortillas Be Composted?
Every form of tortilla can go into either hot compost or cold compost. Tortillas are like bread and will very quickly soak up moisture and get eaten by bacteria. Tortillas are made of compostable materials and can contribute to the nitrogen-rich materials in finished compost. Dry carbon-rich materials need to be added with food scraps and other green materials to get good soil.
Unwanted pests can be an issue when adding tortillas to a compost pile, as creepy crawlers like to dig them up, and unwanted visitors drag them away. Use closed compost or sealed compost bins, or bury leftover corn tortillas and other non-vegetable food scraps in the middle of the compost pit to keep them safe from pests. Like stale bread, stale tortillas get old with air exposure and the passage of time.
Do Tortillas Go Bad?
Tortillas go bad if they are left open and uneaten for too long. Tortillas in chip form last the longest, but even those will get old and stale. If tortillas are exposed to fluctuating temperatures or moisture, they can become moldy tortillas.
Stale tortillas can be reused, but tortillas that are too flaky or wet and moldy should be discarded. Tossing them into the compost pile with wheat flour and rice can help you get rid of unused kitchen scraps.
Types of Tortillas
Different types of tortillas are used for different meals full of meat or green leaves. Tortillas can be made from many different plants, and in some cultures, it’s a way of life. Learning which tortillas to use for different meals can get you out there buying more tortillas which in turn will lead to even more compost.
|Tortilla Material||Can It Be Composted||Used For|
|Flour||Yes||Tex-Mex soft tacos|
|Yellow Corn||Yes||Fried foods|
|White Corn||Yes||Tortilla chips|
|Homemade||Yes||Soups and wraps|
These tortillas are often made of white enriched flour that makes them elastic and strong. Flour tortillas have a very neutral flavor which allows them to be eaten with many types of proteins and spices. Flour tortillas are common for fajitas and soft-shelled tacos and can be found in many kitchens in the US.
The white flour tortillas last a fairly long time before they get moldy. Once flour tortillas get stale, they break easily and can no longer bend and wrap. If your tortillas are not good for eating anymore, toss them into the compost, where they will quickly break down.
These tortillas have a harder grain and held more moisture than other wraps. Whole wheat tortillas are often used as dipping bread like pita or as a substitute for whole wheat bread with sandwiches. Whole wheat tortillas have a heartier grain and will break down quickly in water.
These can go into the composting process quickly as the nutrients and moisture content of whole wheat tortillas are excellent for composting. Flour-based foods break down quickly and feed the microbe starches enabling them to grow faster and eat other food wastes. Adding wheat tortillas can raise your compost temperatures with the addition of brown materials.
A common tortilla for tacos and quesadillas, these torts are often fried and hold oil well. The corn adds additional antimicrobial properties that help to keep these corn tortilla pieces fresh for longer. Make sure corn tortillas that have already been in oil are not added to the compost pile.
Yellow corn tortillas come in huge packs, and there are always a bunch of corn tortillas left. Sometimes I freeze them, but often I forget about them, and when I check, they have grown moldy in the fridge. The bacteria on the tortillas will be transferred with the rest of the organic material in the waste bin.
White corn is usually made into crunchy tortillas and served as chips. These corn tortillas will stay fresh for a long time, especially once they have been fried. They can be used in many dishes, from soaps to dips to casseroles, and are always delicious.
When fried, these chips are dry and can be mixed with food scraps higher in moisture. They should balance and create a better environment n the pile. Crispy tortilla strips can add soil structure and break up anaerobic compost.
A plant-based tortilla is used for diets that restrict the number of carbs and aim to increase the amount of green material eaten each day. Tortillas with spinach add nutrients, carbs, and green ingredients to the compost list.
These tortillas can be made of any type of flour and are usually best eaten right away. Store-bought tortillas are formulated to last on shelves, but fresh homemade tortillas need to be eaten in a day or two. Higher moisture levels and more interactions with bacteria can cause homemade tortillas to age faster.
What to Do With Stale Tortillas?
Composting tortillas should be a last resort. Before we toss food, even if it’s going to become a part of our garden, we should try to think of a way to reuse it. Most stale tortillas are not bad and just need some creativity to make a great meal amazing.
Layered tortilla lasagna is one way to incorporate old tortillas into a meal. By using ground beef and cheese, you can layer your tortillas and bake them in the oven. Add your favorite sour cream and spices to make it your own. Save money and reuse old food with layered tortilla lasagna.
If a tortilla is no longer pliable, then it can be used in a breakfast mix. Eggs with corn tortillas are a classic and delicious way to start the day. The protein from the eggs gets you going, and the carbs from the tortilla fill you up. Sprinkle with a hot source or add some meat to really kick it up a notch.
Tortillas that are really old and have broken up can be fried to make crispy tortilla strips. These go perfectly on top of salads to add a little crunch. You can use these in several dishes and soups to add a little flavor and crispiness wherever it is needed.
How to Compost Tortillas?
If you can’t possibly think of a single thing to do with your old tortillas or simply couldn’t eat another one, then composting these food scraps is the best option. If you throw your tortillas directly on top of your outdoor compost heap, you are going to have a bad time. You need to compost tortillas the right way to give your pile the best ingredients.
Take all old and moldy tortillas and break them or cut them into smaller sizes. Once they are separated, mix them with other food scraps and materials from around the house. Be sure to add brown materials to decrease moisture levels and prevent anaerobic conditions. Once you have all the food together, bury it in the middle of your compost pile to prevent animals from getting to them. After several months you can enjoy fresh, finished compost.