Chipotle Working On A New Tortilla That Cuts Ingredients From 11 To 4

While homemade tortillas don’t require a plethora of ingredients or a time-consuming process — throw together some water, flour, oil and salt and cook, basically — it’s not so easy when it comes to churning out millions of tortillas daily. That’s why Chipotle is working on a new formula that would cut the ingredients list down from 11 to just those four, but allows the company to mass-produce the tortillas at the same time.

The Bread Lab at Washington State University is working on the project for the restaurant chain, as the company says it wants to improve the quality of its mass-market food, reports the New York Times.

The current recipe has 11 ingredients: Flour, water, whole-wheat flour, canola oil, salt, baking soda, wheat bran, fumaric acid, calcium propionate, sorbic acid and sodium metabisulfite.

The new four-ingredient tortillas have been tested at a Chipotle in Washington already, with Chipotle aiming for a homemade taste that can be produced on the scale of close to a million tortillas per day to cover all those burritos and tacos.

“We aspire to make artisanal tortillas on an industrial scale,” Steve Ells, founder of Chipotle told the NYT.

The reason tortillas sold at grocery stores or in restaurants have so many more ingredients than the homemade variety boils down to two things: They make it easier to produce tortillas by the millions and they help give the tortillas a longer shelf life. Which makes taking them all out not as easy as it might seem.

“Not only did we need to change ingredients, we needed to get most of them out,” Ells said. “We also would have to go back to the tortilla bakery and really change the whole way tortillas are made en masse.”

For now, Chipotle is continuing to test the tortillas at the bread lab, with plans to increase the batch size and then eventually put it into production at a small group of test restaurants.

“As we prove that’s successful, we’ll expand until we’re supplying the whole region with tortillas, and then move on to the next region,” Ells explains.

Chipotle’s Quest to Develop a Better Tortilla [New York Times]

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