The pH of tortillas not only affects their shelf life, but also affects their quality. The best pH for flour tortillas is from 5.2 to 6.2. Tortillas outside of this range will either spoil very quickly (above 6.2) or have an acidic taste (below 5.2). Flour tortillas with a higher pH will tend to have better flavor, aroma and appearance. As the pH is reduced to increase activity of preservatives and extend the shelf life of flour tortillas, these attributes are lost. It is important to monitor tortilla pH to achieve the code date and to have a product people want to eat. The optimum pH for flour tortillas is around 5.8 with an acceptable range of pH 5.6 – 6.0 to achieve most shelf life requirements and have a good quality tortilla.
The best pH for corn tortillas depends upon the tortilla type. Table corn tortillas generally have high moisture content and require the lowest pH, that is, between 4.8 and 5.2. Low-moisture corn tortillas used in frying applications should have a pH from 5.2 to 5.5, if used over several weeks after production. High-lime corn tortillas should have a pH between 10 to 10.5.
The tortilla pH can fluctuate up or down about 0.1 units without too much concern. When the tortilla pH fluctuates 0.2 units up or down, you should be concerned and start trouble shooting the problem. Changes in pH are usually caused by the ingredients (including water).
By: Daniel J. Brooker