Tortilla presses, called tortilladoras in Mexico, allow you to make corn tortillas at home. Flour tortillas don't work well in a press -- they are usually rolled by hand with a rolling pin. Either can also be mass produced in a tortilleria or a factory by machine. Plastic and wooden tortilla presses are available for purchase but aren't a smart buy if you plan to make any volume of these taco wrappers. Opt for sturdy cast-aluminum or the heaviest, easiest-to-use models made of cast iron.
You can also find electric versions on the market, if you want to save your muscles.
Using Your Press
Once you have your hands on a tortilla press, the process for squeezing them out is relatively simple.
Pinch off a piece of dough and roll into a size approximately that of a golf ball.
Place the ball of dough on the bottom plate of the press. Close the press shut using the handle, which closes the hinge.
To keep your press clean and prevent dough from sticking, place a large square of plastic wrap over the bottom plate of the press. Put the dough on top of the plastic wrap and cover with another large square of wrap. Use the wrap for multiple tortillas, and discard when it becomes overly crinkled or tears. A large zip-top plastic bag can also be split open and work as a liner.
Close firmly and you'll feel the dough expand. The dough should not sneak out the sides of the press. This means you've pressed too firmly or you've added too much dough.
Every press has its own feel, so it may take some practice to get yours just right. Be patient and willing to consume some "mistakes" along the way.
Tortilla Press Care
You may need to sand a wooden press once in a while with fine grit sandpaper if you notice it becoming slightly rough inside. Massage the outside with wood oil every few months to keep it supple.
Using the plastic-lining approach detailed above when you make tortillas will make your iron, aluminum or wooden press last. After a tortilla-making session, do wipe the press clean with a damp paper towel to catch any drips of batter. Place a few layers of paper towels between the plates to absorb excess moisture between uses.
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.