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6 Easy-Peasy Ways on How to Revive Your Tamales (Reheat and Save the Day!)

Tamales dish has been a well-known Mexican dish, made from diverse ingredients mixed with rice dough. Originally, it is meat-filled rice or corn dough wrapped in bundles made from corn husks.

It was first recorded make ahead, packed and reheated food of the army cooks of the Pre-Columbian history of Incan, Aztec, and Mayan tribes.

There are many versions of tamales today in the market. Recipes online offers both sweet and savory tamales too. From beef to chocolate, there is a lot to consider.

I found interesting chocolate tamales from Frontera which teaches how to properly storeit for you to get the best quality when you reheat tamales.

There are many ways cooking tamales. These can be steamed, fire-roasted, oven-roasted, grilled, barbecued or boiled. But the method of cooking greatly affects the quality of the dish, once you reheat tamales.One of the most popular and efficient ways to cook would be steaming.

If you cooked this ahead of time or there are left-overs from the batch you made, it is very important for you to know how to store it properly.

One tip that most home cooks and professionals advice are to leave the wrapper on. Whether it is corn husks or banana leaves, keep it on. This will help the dough inside from drying out.

The second tip is not to keep tamales in the refrigerator for more than 2 days. Otherwise, put it in the freezer instead, especially for store-bought tamales. This will last for more than 2 months. Make a projection ahead of time as to when you would eat it.

Storing properly will not only prolong the shelf life of foods, but it also preserves the nutritional aspect of the food. As for your tamales, which is largely made from “masa”, a treated corn packed with nutrients especially when added to the rest of the tamales ingredients.

Now once you have this dish, whether you prepared it or bought in the supermarket, it would be best to know how to properly reheat tamales in order to maximize its palatability and nutritional quality as well. You wouldn’t want to waste this dish, right?

How to reheat tamales – Methods:

#1- Stove top

One of the easiest methods of reheating since utensils needed is basic from your kitchen.

What you will need:

  • Stockpot
  • Steamer rack
  • Meat thermometer or
  • Coin if you don’t have thermometer

Step by step instructions:

1. Thaw tamales at least 30 minutes from the freezer.

But if you forget to take it out from the freezer, you can use your microwave defrost setting to thaw it. If you don't like to follow these, you can just put it directly on the steamer rack, but reheating time would be longer.

2. Fill the stockpot with water just below the steamer rack. Place the coin below the steamer rack if there’s no thermometer.

3. Place tamales on the steamer rack, open end up and do not over crowd.

4. Turn on the stove and set to medium heat.

5. Meat thermometer instructions:

  • Open the lid of the stockpot and insert the thermometer into the deep center of the tamales. It should have an internal temperature of 165F.
  • If it doesn't reach 165F yet. Put back the lid and wait for another 2-3 minute and check the temperature again.

6. No meat thermometer instructions:

Follow this reheating time (for about a dozen tamales):

  • Tamales from refrigerator: 15-20 minutes
  • Tamales from freezer (not thawed): 20-30 minutes
  • Tamales from freezer (thawed): 10 minutes

*Once you hear the coin rattling from the bottom of the pan, replenish water of the stockpot.


#2 - Steamer / double boiler

Steaming is the most preferred method of reheating tamales by commercial manufacturers and recommended by most food bloggers because it is the easiest way to do!

What you will need:

  • Steamer/ double boiler
  • Timer

Step by step instructions:

1. Prepare steamer/ double boiler by placing water at the bottom part of the pan, about ¼ to ½ full.

2. Place tamales on the top part of the steamer/ double boiler.

3. Turn on the stove and set to medium.

4. Follow this reheating time (for about a dozen tamales):

  • Tamales from refrigerator: 15-20 minutes
  • Tamales from freezer (not thawed): 20-30 minutes
  • Tamales from freezer (thawed): 10 minutes

#3 - Oven

What you will need:

  • Pyrex dish or baking pan
  • Timer
  • Meat thermometer
  • Aluminum foil (optional)

Step by step instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 325F.

2. Using a Pyrex dish or a baking pan, arrange tamales accordingly. Do not remove the husks. Cover with aluminum foil to prevent tamales from drying out.

3. Set timer to 15 minutes.

4. To check doneness, take the tamales out from the oven. Don't forget to use oven mitts! Insert meat thermometer and check if the temperature has reached 165F. Otherwise, put it back the oven and wait for another 2-3 minute and read again the temperature.

#4 - Microwave

What you will need:

  • Microwaveable pan or microwaveable plastic bag
  • Small damp cloth or paper towel (optional)

Step by step instructions:

1. Defrost tamales (if stored from the freezer) using the microwave's defrost setting.

Defrost and reheat using a microwave oven

2. Arrange tamales, leaving the husk on, on a microwaveable plate. When using a plastic bag, leave the bag open.

3. Place a damp cloth or paper towel inside the microwave if you are using a microwaveable plate to prevent tamales from drying out.

4. Set microwave to the highest notch and heat for 15 seconds.

#5 - Frying

This method will be the tastiest, but surely add up certain calories, but why not try?

What you will need:

  • Cooking oil (vegetable oil is advisable)
  • Frying tongs
  • Colander or plate with paper towel on it

Step by step instructions:

1. Here it is very important to thaw tamales 30 minutes before deep-frying in order to cook it evenly.

2. Preheat a pan containing cooking oil. Oil should be shallow enough to dip the tamales in.

Deep frying pan

3. Remove the husk, and gently place in the heated oil.

4. Fry until golden brown in color. It should be one by at least 2-3 minutes.

5. Place in a colander to remove excess oil or place on a plate with paper towel.

#6 - Reheat on a Cast Iron/ Skillet Pan

Eat-Drink Garden shared this other technique for an even tastier way to reheat and enjoy tamales.

What you will need:

  • Cast iron/ skillet pan
  • Dipping sauce (sour cream with Sriracha sauce)

Step by step instructions:

1. Heat pan to medium high.

2. With husks on, arrange tamales to the pan accordingly.

3. Allow husks to be charred as it adds to the flavor. About 8 minutes on each side.

4. Serve with dipping sauce

Allowing yourself to get to know how to reheat foods properly is a big deal, not only to your family but to the whole society. I’m sure you are familiar with the increasing percentage of food wastage happening in the different parts of the world.

As I write this, I encourage you to consider reheating left-overs foods to take part saving food. Also, if you’re up in the supermarket and happened to pass by the frozen foods section, you’ll be confident enough to get that item and serve it to your family and friends.

Let us know how this post helped you! Share your photos, comments or even a different method of reheating tamales!

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Sarah Smith
 

I have met a lot of people who hate being in the kitchen basically because they think that it is complicated. Yes, cooking is difficult, but only when you do not know the right way to do so. I want to change this perspective through this blog, which is why I will be sharing with you insights that will make it easy to be a pro in the kitchen, even without formal training.

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