Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish wrapped and cooked in corn or banana leaves. Preparing them involves following a series of steps, so they are always made in large quantities. In this case, how can we store tamales?
What are tamales
Tamales are a traditional Mexican dish made of cornmeal masa dough filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables. Tamales are filled and wrapped in a corn husk or banana leaf, then steamed until done. They are delicious with a Jarritos on the side.
In many parts of Mexico and the Southwest, tamales are a traditional Christmas food.
Homemade tamales is a delicious food that can be prepared in different ways. Some people use beef, pork, or chicken to fill them, and others use beans or cheese.
The wrapping is discarded before eating. Tamales-making is a ritual that has been part of Mexican culture since pre-Hispanic times when special fillings and forms were designated for each festival or life event.
Tamales can be challenging because they require special equipment for steaming them.
But once you have made tamales, you will want to store them properly to stay fresh as long as possible.
How to store tamales
Tamales are usually made in big batches and served during the holidays or on special occasions.
This can lead to the problem of what to do with leftovers.
Luckily, tamales are easy to store and reheat.
Are you wondering how to store the leftover tamales without losing their rich flavor and consistency?
Whether you want to freeze a large batch or simply keep them fresh until you’re ready to eat them, you can use a few simple techniques to keep your tamales moist and flavorful for days.
How to store tamales in the fridge
To store previously cooked tamales, let them cool first.
This will prevent bacteria or mold from forming.
It’s important to follow this guidance, even if you plan to store them in the freezer.
Then, put the tamales in a resealable plastic bag like a Ziplock bag.
We advise you to remove as much air as possible from the bags. Also, place a paper towel under each layer of tamales to help reduce moisture.
This tip is essential because the humidity will cause ice crystals to form in or on the tamales.
When this happens, when reheating them, it will affect the texture of the tamales, leaving them too soft.
To keep them in the fridge, you should know that they can only last between 4 to 7 days.
It is advisable to keep them in the fridge if you have planned to eat them in two or three days, so it is ideal for keeping only the amount you need to avoid losing them.
How to store tamales in the freezer
If you need or want to keep the tamales longer, then freeze them.
To freeze tamales, cook them as usual, then wrap each tamal in plastic wrap or aluminum foil to avoid freezer burn and place in a resealable freezer bag or plastic container.
Also, you can put them in an airtight container.
Freezer storage should not exceed six months; however, when it comes to meat-filled tamales, they have a shorter shelf life of up to a couple of months in the freezer.
How to thaw tamales
If you store your tamales in the freezer, you must know how to thaw them.
If you want to thaw them without affecting the texture and flavor of the tamales, you’ll have the best results doing it overnight in the fridge.
It is essential that, before reheating, they maintain a cool temperature to the touch.
If we let them thaw out of the refrigerator too quickly, the ice crystals in the dough can turn the dough into mush.
On the other hand, if they are thawed in the fridge, they will be able to maintain their consistency.
Once they’re thawed, you can place them in a steamer and cook them for 20 minutes.
If you don’t want to thaw your tamales beforehand, you can cook them frozen.
Frozen tamales take longer to cook than thawed ones, so plan on about 40 minutes.
How to reheat tamales
There are different methods to reheat tamales.
In the steamer
If you have leftover tamales, you will need to reheat them before eating them.
The best option to do this is to steam them, so they retain their moist texture.
You can reheat them directly in their corn husks, then remove the husk when you’re ready to eat them.
You can even heat tamales with the husk removed.
Also, it is possible to place tamales directly frozen in the steamer.
1. Fill a large pot with about 2 inches of water. Place a steamer basket in the pot.
2. Cover the pot with its lid. Heat the pot over medium-high heat for about 10 minutes or until the water begins to boil.
3. Place the tamales upright inside the steamer basket.
4. Reduce the heat and let the tamales warm, covered, for about 30 minutes or until heated through.
5. Remove them from the steamer basket with tongs and serve immediately.
In a pan
You can add extra flavor with a frying texture.
If you have wrapped tamales in their corn husks, unwrap them.
If your leftover tamales are already without the husk, skip this step.
1. Heat a frying pan over medium heat, and add a little oil or butter to the pan.
2. Place the tamales in a skillet, and let them heat up until heated through and slightly crisp around the edges, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
In the oven
The oven is a great way and a reliable alternative to reheat tamales because you can make large batches of tamales at a time.
1. Place the tamales on a sheet pan, cover them with several layers of aluminum foil, and place them in a preheated oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Check them after 10 or 15 minutes to see if they are hot.
3. If they are not, continue to heat and check periodically until thoroughly heated.
4. You can turn them over halfway through the process, so they heat evenly.
In the microwave
It is a quick method and an easy way to reheat the tamales.
1.Wrap the tamales in a damp paper towel and put it on a microwave-safe plate.
2. Heat for one minute and thirty seconds.
3. Heat for another 30 seconds until piping hot if it’s not hot yet.
In the air fryer
Air fryers are a wonderful invention and have become our best friends. We use them for many things, and we can always count on them if we need to heat something in a short time.
To reheat the tamales in the air fryer
1. Put the tamales in the air fryer’s basket and spread them out.
2. Set the temperature to 350 degrees F and cook for 3-4 minutes.
3. Check, and if they are still cold, leave them another 2 minutes until they are warm all over.
How can you tell if tamales have spoiled?
This is a normal question when it comes to how to store tamales. The best way to know if your tamales have spoiled is by smell and touch.
To tell if tamales have spoiled, look for signs of mold or foul odors.
You should also check that the outer layer of corn is still soft and moist. If you notice any of these signs, throw away the bad tamales and use fresh ones.