Tamales, a Latin recipe that includes port or shrimp, are usually prepared in large quantities during family gatherings and celebrations. Therefore, it is natural to have sufficient leftovers that one would not like to waste. So, can you store tamales for later use? Yes, you can. Now, can you freeze tamales and make them available for extended periods?
Can You Freeze Tamales?
You can freeze leftover tamales in the freezer. But, following the proper procedures ensures that the tamales do not lose their taste, texture, and flavor.
Tamales are non-vegetarian recipes consisting of a corn-based starchy case (masa) filled with vegetables, pork, cheese, and fruits steamed in banana leaf or husk.
How Do You Freeze Tamales?
You can freeze cooked and uncooked tamales. Let us look at both the procedures.
Freezing Cooked Tamales
Generally, people freeze cooked tamales because it is easy to prepare large batches and freeze the leftovers. Besides, reheating pre-cooked frozen tamales saves tame. In addition, freezing cooked tamales causes a minimum change in their flavor and taste.
Step 1 – Cook The Tamales
While cooking tamales, you ensure that the masa structure encases the fillings as you peel away the husk. Once you cook the tamales, you can separate the pieces you wish to freeze from those you eat. The first step to freezing cooked tamales is to cool them to room temperature.
Cooling tamales should not take more than an hour. However, we recommend checking them frequently because exposing tamales to room temperature exposes them to bacteria and spoils them. Cooling the tamales is crucial because it prevents them from condensation in the container during the freezing process. Besides, it enables the solidifying of the masa casing.
Step 2 – Use Suitable Containers
Tamales can occupy sufficient space in the freezer. Airtight containers are ideal for freezing tamales because they protect the tamales from other foods freezing in the compartment. Freezer bags are also helpful in freezing tamales. Under such circumstances, it is advisable to wrap each tamale in cling film or aluminum foil tightly to prevent freezer burn.
Step 3 – Freeze The Tamales
Ideally, you should lay down the tamales flat inside the freezer to help them maintain their structure. It also protects the food from excess air trapped inside the freezer bag. But, removing the air from the container or freezer bag is crucial. Finally, label the containers/freezer bags before placing them inside the freezer for freezing.
Freezing Uncooked Tamales
Freezing uncooked tamales is challenging compared to freezing cooked tamales because the raw masa, the most perishable component of the tamales, can fall apart when exposed to cold temperatures. That explains why people prefer to cook tamales before freezing.
As the masa can fall apart, it will not hold the fillings together, creating a mess during the defrosting procedure. Therefore, it can result in a loss of flavor and texture. However, you can freeze uncooked tamales despite these issues by following the correct procedure discussed below.
Step 1 – Wrap The Fillings
Prepare the tamales as you usually do before the steaming process. Then, wrap them tightly in the husk or banana leaf. Wrapping them tightly is crucial because it enables the masa to stay in place.
An alternative is to freeze the masa and the fillings separately. However, it can entail occupying more space in the freezer. But, the benefit is that you can shape the masa around the fillings after the defrosting process.
Step 2 – Storing The Tamales
Storing the tamales in an airtight container is crucial, but it does not matter whether you wrap them in the husk or not. Airtight containers prevent condensation and ice crystal formation that adversely affect the tamales’ consistency and flavor.
Packing the tamales well ensures that the masa does not fall apart.
Step 3 – Freeze The Tamales
Stick a label on the container and enter the freezing date. Then, place the container inside the freezer to freeze well.
How Do You Defrost The Frozen Tamales (Cooked Or Uncooked)?
Defrosting tamales consumes a lot of time because you have to leave them in the refrigerator for a day. The correct procedure is to transfer the tamales from the freezer to the fridge overnight. It will thaw naturally and prepare for consumption the following morning. Subsequently, you can cook them in the steamer in the same way as you prepare fresh tamales.
Alternatively, you can steam them in frozen form.
You can cook uncooked frozen tamales in an air fryer. Before that, it is better to moisten the banana leaf or the husk with cold water. The air fryer temperature can be set to medium, but you mustn’t overcrowd the air fryer.
Cooking tamales do not take more than five minutes. However, it is better to ensure that the fillings are not cold.
If you have frozen the masa and fillings separately, they have to be defrosted in the refrigerator overnight. Subsequently, you can wrap the filling inside the masa and steam them as you usually do.
How Long Can The Frozen Tamales Remain Fresh?
The frozen tamales can last comfortably for six months if you have followed the proper procedure for wrapping and freezing. However, consuming them within six months is essential because the taste and flavor can deteriorate with excessive freezing. Secondly, the masa can dry during the freezing process and crack. It is common with both cooked and uncooked tamales. Therefore, we recommend not to freeze the tamales for extended periods.
How Long Can Tamales Be Refrigerated?
Tamales can remain fresh in the refrigerator for a week. Then, you can reheat them in an oven, steamer, or pan.
Can The Fillings In The Tamales Affect Its Freezing Process?
A lot depends on the ingredients used for preparing the fillings.
- Meat and fish fillings should not be a problem because they freeze well. They retain their flavor and taste even after defrosting and reheating.
- Vegetables can become mush after the defrosting process. A better alternative is to cook the vegetable fillings partially or even not cook them.
- Dairy fillings and cheese do not freeze well. The cheese can crumble and lose its flavor. So, we recommend freezing cheese tamales for three months instead of six.
Tamales are tasty recipes. Hence, one does not like to waste them. Freezing tamales is an excellent option to prevent them from rotting. So, you know how to freeze tamale. Therefore, you can prepare it in large batches without any worry. So, can you freeze tamales? Then, you can proudly say that you can, and you know how to.