Tamales are a traditional Mexican food made with masa dough and a filling that typically consists of meat, although it can be made with beans and vegetables for a vegetarian alternative. Because it takes so long to make homemade tamales, making a very large batch and freezing most of it will help you to get the most out of the time you put into making tamales. When properly frozen, homemade tamales will keep for 6 months and taste nearly as good as they did when they were freshly made.
Things You'll Need
- Cooling racks
- Large plastic food storage containers or freezer bags
- Tamale steamer
Freezing Homemade Tamales
Leave the cooked homemade tamales in their corn husks and cool them completely on wire cooling racks. Check frequently to see if they have cooled yet, as they will spoil if they are left at room temperature for too long.
Place the tamales in airtight food storage containers. Large plastic food storage containers work well, although they can be bulky and hard to pack into a small freezer. Another alternative is plastic food storage bags designed for freezer use. If the tamales are not packaged well, they may get freezer burn and not have as good of a texture.
Put your homemade tamales in the freezer, where they can be stored for up to six months.
Reheating Frozen Tamales
Thaw the tamales thoroughly in the refrigerator. This will typically take just two to three hours for a few tamales, but can take a day for a larger container of frozen tamales.
Leave the husks on the tamales if you are going to reheat them by steaming them. They can be steamed in a tamale steamer for 30 minutes or in the microwave with a small amount of water for 2 to 5 minutes.
Remove corn husks to reheat the tamales by frying or baking. Homemade tamales can be fried in a small amount of cooking oil for 5 to 10 minutes, turning frequently to get a crispy brown outside. Alternately, they can be baked in a buttered or oiled dish at 425 degrees F for about 30 minutes.
Tips & Warnings
- Tamale steamers can be bought at Mexican specialty shops or online and will allow you to steam dozens of tamales at a time.
- Microwaving tamales, although it is the fastest way to reheat them, will often cause tamales to lose some of their moisture.
- Homemade Tamales: FAQ
- Vegetarian Journal; "Vegan Tamales;" Cecilia Peterson; 2006
- Photo Credit Jack Hollingsworth/Photodisc/Getty Images
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