How to Dry Corn Husks for Tamales

To make traditional tamales, you need to wrap the savory filling in packages made of dried corn husks. Instead of purchasing the husks, you can dry them from freshly shucked corn yourself in the oven or in the sun, but note that oven drying works better in humid climates, where husks can develop mold during the longer sun-drying process. Always discard moldy husks, whether fresh or dry, to avoid contaminating your tamales.

Things You'll Need

  • Chef or other large knife
  • Paper towels
  • Cooking rack(s)
  • Cookie sheet(s)
  • Resealable plastic food storage bags
  • Cardboard or wooden box
  • Cheesecloth

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Preparation

Step 1

Grab the corn husk at the top of an ear of corn and pull it gently down to the base of the cob.

Step 2

Cut the husk off at the base, or stem end, of each cob.

Step 3

Rinse each corn husk with cool water, removing any excess debris or dirt. Pat them dry with paper towels.

Oven-Drying Method

Step 1

Put a cooling rack over a cookie sheet.

Step 2

Place the corn husks in a single layer on the cooling rack.

Step 3

Heat the corn husks at 140 degrees Fahrenheit or the lowest possible setting for 8 hours with the oven door propped open. The open door promotes proper air circulation during the drying process.

Step 4

Check the corn husks. They should have a brittle texture and appear light brown in color due to the loss of moisture.

Step 5

Cool the husks for 1 hour until they reach room temperature.

Step 6

Store the dried corn husks in a resealable plastic bag for up to 1 year in a cool, dry place.

Sun-Drying Method

Step 1

Place the corn husks in a single layer in an uncovered cardboard or wooden box to promote proper air circulation and prevent mold. Cover the box with cheesecloth to protect the husks from insects and animals.

Step 2

Dry the corn husks in direct sunlight outdoors in temperatures of at least 86 F or above, with humidity levels below 60 percent, recommends the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Service. Bring the husks indoors at night or during inclement weather to protect them from outside moisture and prevent them from molding.

Step 3

Check the husks daily until they turn light brown, brittle and completely dry, which can take up to 2 weeks.

Step 4

Place the sun-dried husks in a single layer on one or more cookie sheets and put the sheets in the oven.

Step 5

Pasteurize the husks by baking them at 160 F for 30 minutes. This kills off any insects, bacteria or mold spores, increasing the shelf life of the husks.

Step 6

Cool the husks for 1 hour until they reach room temperature.

Step 7

Store the corn husks in resealable plastic bags for up to 1 year in a cool, dry place.

Tips & Warnings

  • Soak the dried corn husks for 30 minutes in hot water before using them to wrap your tamales.
  • Never use moldy dried corn husks to make your tamales because they could contaminate them and make you sick.

References

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