How Long Can Tamales Last in the Refrigerator?

Tamales are a beloved food, but many tamale enthusiasts are unsure about how long they can be stored in the fridge. If you have been pondering this question, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we will explore the shelf life of tamales and uncover some lesser-known facts about this delectable treat.

What Are Tamales?

Tamales are a Mexican delicacy made from a combination of savory fillings and corn dough, known as corn masa. This popular street food originated in Mesoamerica as early as 8000 to 5000 BC. Tamales are typically wrapped in corn husks or banana leaves.

The word “tamal” has its roots in Nahuatl, an ancient Mexican language. In Nahuatl, “tamali” means “wrap.” Tamales have a rich history and are often served during holiday festivals, parties, and family gatherings.

Tamales’ Basic Ingredients

The primary ingredients for making tamales include sweet corn dough, lard, water, broth (chicken, beef, or vegetables), salt, baking powder, and dried corn husks. There are countless variations of tamales worldwide, with fillings ranging from savory options like beef, turkey, venison, and pork, to sweet fillings like fruits, salsas, and mole. Vegetarian fillings with herbs, rice, legumes, beans, cheese, or vegetables are also popular.

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How Long Do Tamales Last in the Fridge?

The shelf life of tamales depends on whether they are cooked or uncooked and how they are stored. Here is a quick recap:

  • Cooked tamales can last for about 1 week in the refrigerator.
  • Uncooked tamales, without meat, can last anywhere from 4 days to 1 week in the fridge.

To extend the shelf life of tamales, freezing is a great option. Cooked tamales can be frozen for up to 6 months, while uncooked tamales can last for 4-6 months in the freezer.

Storing Tamales in the Fridge the Right Way

Storing tamales in the fridge is quite simple. Here is a step-by-step guide for storing both cooked and uncooked tamales:

A Well-rounded Guide

  1. Step 1: Cool Down Tamales
    Allow the tamales to cool down at room temperature (around 21-22°C) before refrigerating them. This helps prevent condensation and maintain their texture.

  2. Step 2: Store Tamales Inside Containers
    Place the tamales in sealed plastic bags, aluminum foil, or Ziplock containers. To preserve their shape and flavor, make sure to cover each tamale layer with plastic before adding another layer. Seal the containers properly.

  3. Step 3: Label the Containers
    Write the storage date on each container to keep track of their expiration date and ensure freshness.

  4. Step 4: Refrigerate Tamales
    Arrange the containers in the refrigerator, allowing proper air circulation. Consume the tamales within 7 days of refrigerating them.

Significant Notes for Tamales Storage in the Fridge

Here are some essential tips to remember when storing tamales in the fridge:

  • Cooked tamales can stay fresh for up to 1 week, while uncooked tamales can last for up to 6 months in the refrigerator (4 months for tamales with meat).
  • Avoid placing warm tamales directly in the fridge, as this can foster microbial growth. Let them cool down before refrigerating.
  • A frozen compartment is ideal for storing uncooked tamales.
  • Always check the expiration date on the packaging and consume them within one month after purchase.
  • Use airtight containers to protect the tamales from oxygen and potential cross-contamination.
  • Keep in mind that the texture and quality of tamales may decline with extended storage.
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How to Reheat Tamales

Now that we’ve covered how to store tamales, let’s discuss how to reheat them. Here are various methods you can follow:

Using a Steamer to Reheat Tamales

A steamer is the traditional and optimal method for reheating tamales. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Step 1: Pour Water into the Pot
    Fill a pot with 2-3 inches of water, ensuring that the water level does not touch the steaming basket’s bottom. This prevents the tamales from becoming overly soggy.

  2. Step 2: Place the Basket in the Pot
    Put the steaming basket into the pot and cover it with a lid.

  3. Step 3: Steam the Tamales
    When the water starts boiling, add the tamales to the steaming basket. Cover the pot again and set the steamer to medium heat. Steam the tamales for approximately 30 minutes. If reheating frozen tamales, add 10 more minutes to the steaming time.

Other Reheating Methods

If you don’t have a steamer, don’t worry! You can also use an air fryer, rice cooker, microwave, or frying pan to reheat your tamales.

For detailed instructions on each method, and to find the one that suits your needs best, visit the full article on 5 WS.

How to Tell if Tamales Have Gone Bad

It’s important to know when tamales have spoiled. Signs of spoiled tamales include a sour or rotten smell, mold growth, and noticeable discoloration. If you observe significant color changes, such as a shift from yellowish to orange or pink, it’s time to discard the tamales. Moldy tamales should also be thrown away, as consuming them can pose health risks.

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Can Moldy Tamales Make You Sick?

Absolutely, moldy tamales can make you sick. Expired tamales often harbor bacteria such as campylobacter, clostridium, salmonella, and staph. These bacteria release toxins that can cause food poisoning even when the tamales are fully cooked. Always exercise caution and order fresh tamales if you notice any signs of spoilage.

If you have any more questions or tips to share, feel free to leave a comment! Let’s keep the conversation going and explore endless exciting ideas!

References:

  1. Nawa.gov.pl. How Has the Language of the Aztecs Changed.
  2. Medlineplus.gov. Phosphorus in diet.
  3. Medlineplus.gov. Atherosclerosis.
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