Tortilla, how are they made and what are they?
A tortilla is a flat bread that originates from Mexico in South America. The word tortilla is Spanish and means “small cake” in English.
The use of wheat, rather then corn, to make tortillas was thought to be first introduced by Sephardi Jews. This is because wheat was deemed to be kosher rather than corn meal which is not.
It is made from dough that is unleavened or has no yeast present.
The process of cooking the tortilla is quite simple. A ball of dough is placed on to a hot plate then squashed into a round flat disk. The heat transferred from the hot plate quickly cooks the tortilla.
The system of cooking them is highly automated with flat bread production being a multi billion dollar industry. This particular in North America.
There are a number of market leaders in the sector such as General Mills & Gruma Foods. Both companies have large tortilla production facilities all over the world.
Over the past decade the use of tortillas has become more popular in Europe especially in fast food chains such as McDonald’s and KFC along with other major quick service restaurants.
In a modern day production facility tortillas are made with great efficiency and speed. A production line can produce thousands of units per hour and are often run 23 hours per day.
Specialist conveyor belts made from PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene), known as Teflon are used to process them on. The reason for specifying such a conveyor belt is because PTFE will operate at high temperatures and allow the product to release after being pressed in to a disk. PTFE conveyor belts used are generally blue in colour.
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