Many people associate sodium with salt. But sodium in food can also be found other forms. One of the highest forms of sodium in flour tortillas and baked goods is not salt, it is the sodium found in baking powder.
Baking powder contains sodium bicarbonate and usually some form of sodium acid such as sodium aluminum sulfate (SAS) or sodium acid pyrophosphate (SAPP). These components can add 30-35% of the sodium found in the nutritional facts on a tortilla product label. Salt is usually less, about 25%.
Formulating tortillas with sodium free or reduced sodium baking powders is a great way to significantly reduce the RDA of sodium for the average person. This is very important since tortillas are often served with other foods that are high in sodium such as meats, sauces and toppings.
By: Pat Jobe
For more information about sodium free baking powder:
The amount of water in corn and flour tortillas is critical to monitor and control. For tortillas, water content is the next most important measurement after pH. Moisture balances are commonly used to measure moisture. These instruments are fairly simple to use and provide quick results. A slower more accurate method is to use a laboratory oven set at 125 Celsius and allow the tortillas to dry for at least three hours before weighing the dried samples. Wheat flour tortillas usually have moisture contents around 30-32% wet basis. Corn tortillas have a much wider range of moisture contents. Table corn tortillas have moisture contents around 46-52% wet basis. Corn tortillas for frying have moisture contents from 25-46% wet basis. Lower moisture content is desirable for frying. Low moisture tortillas will have less problems with greasiness, texture, frying oil life, and profitability due to lower a fat content in finished chips.
By: Daniel J. Brooker
In recent years inspectors have become increasingly concerned about traditional nixtamalization methods. Many tortilla manufacturers across the US have had inspectors make them through away steeping corn. During inspections many tortilla manufacturers have been unable to demonstrate the safety of the steeping process to regulators. The inspectors concern is two fold. First they are concerned about the safety of the nixtamalization process, which lacks time and temperature controls and relies solely on pH for microbiological pathogen control. Second, as the regulations are currently written there is an exemption for acidified foods from time temperature controls but not for alkaline foods like nixtamalized corn. Tortilla manufacturers have been able to demonstrate the safety of the nixtamalization process to inspectors with the flow chart we have prepared (contact us for a free copy).
We have offered this resource to regulatory agencies across the country for several years and have always had them agree with our analysis at the end of the day. In particular, that the alkaline pH of the Nixtamalization process, which is typically around pH 11 to 12, does not permit the growth of pathogens (see table from the FDA’s website below). We agree that there is a point after steeping, after the rinsing of the corn, that there is a time/temperature concern.
|Table 3-5. Approximate pH values permitting the growth of selected pathogens in food.|
|Clostridium perfringens||5.5 – 5.8||7.2||8.0 – 9.0|
|Bacillus cereus||4.9||6.0 –7.0||8.8|
|Campylobacter spp.||4.9||6.5 – 7.5||9.0|
|Vibrio parahaemolyticus||4.8||7.8 – 8.6||11.0|
|Clostridium botulinum toxin||4.6||8.5|
|Clostridium botulinum growth||4.6||8.5|
|Staphylococcus aureus growth||4.0||6.0 – 7.0||10.0|
|Staphylococcus aureus toxin||4.5||7.0 – 8.0||9.6|
|Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli||4.4||6.0 – 7.0||9.0|
|Salmonella spp.||4.21||7.0 – 7.5||9.5|
Sources: Table 5.3 in ICMSF 1980, p 101.
1pH minimum as low as 3.8 has been reported when acidulants other than acetic acid or equivalent are used.