Tamales are delicious Mexican food that can be used at any meal, but how long do they last in the fridge? Tamales are made with corn masa dough, which is wrapped around a variety of fillings. The dough is then typically steamed or boiled before being served on banana leaves. Like all foods, tamales have an expiration date, and it’s important to know how long they will last in the refrigerator, so you don’t end up wasting them!
If you are storing leftover tamales in the fridge, how long do they last? It turns out that how long tamales will last in the refrigerator largely depends on how well they were stored when fresh.
If your leftovers have been properly refrigerated and never heated up since their original cooking date, then it’s possible to store them in the fridge for around five to seven days.
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What Are Tamales?
Tamales are a Mexican dish made with corn masa dough which is wrapped around a variety of fillings. They can be steamed or boiled before being served. Tamales originated in Central America and are now popular in many Latin American countries.
They taste slightly sweet with a firm, grainy texture and are typically filled with meat, cheese, or vegetables.
Tamales were traditionally eaten at Christmas time but are now enjoyed all year round. The word tamale is derived from the Aztec language and has an etymology that means “wrapped in leaves.” Tamal comes from the name of its main ingredient: tamal-a or maize dough wrapped inside corn husks.
Fillings can include corn tamales, bean tamales made from pinto beans, or black beans. They can also be filled with pork and chicken, which is then cooked in a sauce of tomatoes, chiles, garlic, and onion called mole Rojo.
What Are the Signs That Tamales Have Gone Bad?
It’s important to know when tamales will go bad so you can avoid food waste.
The tamales will become dry, and the corn masa dough will start to crack. This is a sure sign that they have gone bad! The tamale filling may also change color or get moldy, which are signs of spoilage. Tamales should be refrigerated immediately after cooking and consumed within five to seven days.
Tamales will often change color, as they were steamed or boiled while fresh, so if you notice a noticeable difference between how the tamale looked when it was freshly cooked versus how it looks after being refrigerated, then it’s probably gone bad.
Foods high in fat content or that have a lot of sugar will go bad more quickly, so if you see any signs of these ingredients on your tamales and they’re not stored properly, they’re likely to be already bad.
How long do tamales last in the freezer?
It is important to know how long Tamales will last in the fridge and how well they were stored when fresh. If your leftovers have been properly refrigerated, then it’s possible to store them for around five-seven days before eating or freezing. The freezer can be used to keep tamales for up to six months. Do not use Tamales that have been frozen for longer than 6 months.
Is it better to freeze tamales cooked or uncooked?
Cooking the masa dough will help reduce how long they last in the fridge because you are killing any bacteria that could spoil them! If not, then how much time is left before spoiling will depend on how well they were stored when fresh.
What is the best way to eat tamales?
Tamales are traditionally eaten with a variety of toppings like salsa, chiles, or butter. Tamale season is typically around the winter holidays as it coincides with Christmas in Mexico!
There are many ways that tamales can be eaten. However, tamales are traditionally served on banana leaves and typically with a red salsa called pico de gallo on top of sour cream mixed in with some lime juice and salt to create what’s known as curtido before being eaten. Tamales are usually steamed or boiled before being served on the banana leaves, so they should be heated up before serving them!
- First, remove the corn husk and discard, then pull the tamale out by the dough.
- Use a tortilla soup spoon to dip into salsa and scoop up some masa before taking a bite. Repeat this process as many times as you want!
- Tamales are best eaten with Guacamole or salsa on the side.
How long can cooked tamales last out of the fridge?
As already mentioned, how long tamales will last out of the fridge largely depends on how well they were stored when fresh.
If your tamales have been properly refrigerated and never heated up since their original cooking date, then it’s possible to store them for around five-seven days before eating or freezing. The freezer can also be used to keep tamales for up to six months.
If you do not refrigerate your cooked Tamales, you should consume them within 1 hour.
Cooked tamales don’t have a long shelf life because they will spoil. If you’re not sure whether or not your tamale is spoiled, then it’s best to dispose of them and eat something else!
How to reheat Tamales
Tamales are best served warm, although they can be eaten cold. If you have stored them in the freezer, you should leave them to defrost in the fridge for 24 hours before following the reheating steps below.
If you’re looking to reheat tamales in the oven or microwave, then be sure to do so gently and always check their temperature before serving!
– Microwave: wrap tamale tightly with plastic film and microwave for six minutes at a time (turn tamale midway if it’s too hot)
– Oven: wrap tamales in aluminum foil and place on a baking tray, then bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 180 Celsius for around fifteen minutes. Check tamales every few minutes to ensure they don’t overcook!
– Fryer/Deep Fryer: tamales can be deep-fried for around five minutes before removing from the fryer
– Steamer: tamales will need to be steamed over a pot of boiling water at medium heat, so they don’t overcook until cooked through. Check tamal every two to three minutes and remove when they’re ready!
Easy Tamale Recipe
Tamale dough can be made from scratch in just fifteen minutes using masa harina (ground corn flour) mixed to a paste-like consistency with water. But for this recipe, we’ll use the pre-made dough.
The tamale filling will vary according to personal taste, but you can try using minced beef with onions and tomatoes; cheese tamales (filled with shredded queso fresco); or vegetarian tamales filled with beans peppers, and corn kernels, for example.
Tamal dough is usually wrapped in banana leaves, but corn husks are also used and then steamed. Banana tamales will take around one hour to cook, while tamales wrapped in corn husk usually need two hours before they’re ready to eat.
– tamale dough (cornmeal, salt, hot water)
– masa harina (ground corn for tamales; not to be confused with regular flour!)
– lard or vegetable shortening*
– boiling water
– onion and garlic cloves finely chopped
-(optional) cumin seeds and oregano
– salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste
– grated cheese or crumbled queso fresco for topping (optional)
– Heat tamale dough and lard or vegetable shortening in a saucepan.
– Add onion, garlic, and spices to the tamales before adding boiling water. Bring mixture to a boil for about five minutes until it has thickened into enough of a paste that you can shape tamales with your hands without them sticking too much.
– Add cheese or queso fresco on top of tamales before wrapping with banana leaves, corn husks, or aluminum foil. Cook tamales in a steamer for one hour using banana leaves and two hours using other wrappings.
*Please note that tamale dough is traditionally made without fat, but tamales wrapped in banana leaves are usually made with lard or vegetable shortening.
Wrap Up (excuse the pun!)
Tamales are a popular dish that is typically served at Christmas time. The traditional tamale consists of masa (cornmeal) dough wrapped around a filling and some meat or vegetable mixture. Once cooked, they can be stored in the refrigerator for up to three days before freezing for later use. We recommend you cook your tamales first and then freeze them, so they maintain their flavor longer than if you were to pack uncooked ones straight into individual bags. When it comes to eating these delicious dishes, we recommend the following tradition by serving with salsa verde and mole sauce on top along with other Mexican side dishes like rice and beans! What’s your favorite way to eat tamales? Let us know!
If you enjoyed this article and want to consider making your own Tamales, please check out our ultimate guide to Kitchen Essentials to help you get started. We also have some other beneficial Kitchen articles like Freezing Chicken Salad and how to reheat Nachos.