Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lots of tortillas!

As promised in our last post, we reviewed a bunch of tortillas for today's analysis. Given that there are many types of name brand tortillas, we didn't want to compare the Great Value Flour Tortillas against just one brand, so we compared them to three others: La Banderita Flour Tortillas, Mission Flour Tortillas and Ole Flour Tortillas. Yes, we will have plenty of tortillas for a while - luckily they freeze well! In each case we reviewed the medium/soft taco size (we assume they will taste the same no matter the size, but you never know!)


This was another situation where we couldn't just look at the price per package, because the Great Value tortillas contained 8 tortillas per package (12.8 oz), while the three non-generics we reviewed each had 10 tortillas per package (Mission: 17.5 oz; La Banderita: 16 oz and Ole: 16 oz). We are including the ounces contained per package because that's another way to measure how much you're getting for your money (the Mission tortillas seemed a little denser, as described below). This generic version was the best value we've found so far, costing 28% less than the La Banderita and Ole brands, and a full 30% less than the most expensive Mission brand tortilla.

Ingredients: We discovered tortillas consist of three primary ingredients (which a lot of you may already have known!), but certain brands added more "extras" than others: 

Great Value Flour Tortillas: Enriched bleached flour (wheat flour, malted barley flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin and folic acid), water, vegetable shortening (partially hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils, or palm oil or corn oil), contains 2% or less of the following: baking powder, salt, calcium propionate, sorbic acid, mono and diglycerides, fumaric acid, sugar, dough relaxer (sodium metabisulfite, cornstarch, microcrystalline cellulose, dicalcium phosphate).

La Banderita Flour Tortillas: Enriched bleached flour, water, vegetable shortening (hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed olis); contains 2% or less of the following: salt, calcium propionate, socium bicarbonate, fumaric acid, sorbic acid, distilled mono and diglycerides and sugar.

Mission Flour Tortillas (btw, on Mission's package it says they are "the world's best-selling tortilla"): enriched bleached wheat flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), water, vegetable shortening (interesterified soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil and/or palm oil), contains 2% or less of: sugar, salt, leavening (sodium bicarbonate, sodium aluminum sulfate, corn starch, monocalcium phosphate and/or sodium acid pyrophosphate, calcium sulfate), preservatives (calcium propionate, sorbic acid, potassium sorbate and/or citric acid), distilled monoglycerides, enzymes, wheat starch, calcium carbonate, antioxidants (tocopherols, ascorbic acid), cellulose gum, dough conditioners (fumaric acid, sodium metabisulfite and/or mono- and diglycerides). Yikes that's a lot of extra added stuff for something so simple!

Ole Flour Tortillas: Enriched bleached flour, water, vegetable shortening (hydrogenated soybean and cottonseed oils); contains 2% or less of the following: baking powder, salt, calcium propionate, distilled mono and diglycerides, sorbic acid, fumaric acid baking soda, and sugar. Interesting note: these looked so similar to the La Banderita tortillas, the packaging included, that upon closer inspection it is clear they are made by the same company. We're not sure why virtually the exact same product is sold under two different names... can anyone shed light on that?

After reviewing these ingredients we have to say we're not sure why we don't just make our own tortillas - it can't be that hard, can it, with three, maybe four basic ingredients plus a little salt/sugar (once you take out all the chemical preservatives)? Has anyone made their own tortillas before? Is it worth it?

Calories/Nutritional Information: The Great Value tortillas had 130 calories per tortilla and the most fat (3.5 g), 300 mg sodium, 22 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, and 8% of the daily recommended value of calcium and iron. The Mission tortillas had the most calories per tortilla, at 140, along with 3 g of fat, the highest amount of sodium (420 mg), 25 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein and the same amount of calcium and iron as the generic. The La Banderita and Ole tortillas were the healthiest, each with 110 calories and 1 g fat per tortilla, 286 mg. sodium, 21 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein, and 6% of the daily recommended value of calcium. Only the amount of iron was different between these two, at 4% RDV for the La Banderita tortillas and 3% RDV for the Ole brand (see what we mean when we say they're basically exactly the same?)

Appearance: The tortillas all looked pretty similar, except that the Mission brand tortillas looked and felt smoother/less puffy, and looked a little more "cooked" (had more browning than the others).

Mission vs. Great Value

La Banderita (and Ole) vs. Great Value

Texture/the chew test: The Mission tortilla seemed denser/stiffer than the others, which were softer/lighter. It makes sense that the Mission tortillas were denser than the others - that accounts for the extra weight in the same amount of tortillas (17.5 oz. vs. 16 oz.). The Ole/La Banderita tortilla seemed the thickest/fluffiest. We also did a "structure" test to see how the tortillas would hold up. The generic didn't hold up as well against the others in this test - it seemed to tear more easily when filled and rolled up. 

Taste: The generic tortillas had an aftertaste we don't know how to describe, but it's not particularly pleasant; the Mission tortillas seemed to taste the best - you can tell there's more salt in them; they also have more of a wheat flavor. The La Banderita and Ole tortillas didn't have much taste to them other than flour (they also have the least amount of salt!)

Bottom line: Although the price is right on the generic, we likely won't buy them again due to the higher calorie/fat content, unpleasant aftertaste, and propensity to tear.

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