Have you recently purchased some tamales and stowed them in your fridge, only to wonder if that was actually a good idea, and whether they will stay fresh in there?
It’s important to handle food in accordance with current safety guidelines, so you need to make sure you are keeping your tamales for an appropriate amount of time, in the right conditions.
How long do tamales last in the fridge? Tamales should last in the fridge for about a week if they are refrigerated promptly. Tamales should be stored in the fridge, both when they are raw and when they are cooked. It’s important to keep them cool to minimize the spread of foodborne bacteria and ensure that they stay safe to eat for as long as possible.
How Should You Store Tamales in the Fridge?
You should wrap tamales well before refrigerating them. Either cover them in plastic wrap or put them in an airtight container that will protect them from oxygen and minimize the risk of cross-contamination with other foods you have in the fridge.
Some people recommend storing tamales in aluminum foil so that reheating them is easier, and this will also work well. If you don’t wrap them up in some way, they will go off much more quickly, because being exposed to air will increase the bacterial spread.
If you haven’t wrapped the tamales, try to use them up within two or three days. You should also be more vigilant about using up meat tamales, whereas vegetable ones may last better, both cooked and uncooked.
Don’t store raw tamales that contain meat for more than a couple of days prior to cooking them; this may be unsafe. If you are unsure, think about what kind of meat they contain and how you would usually store this to ensure it remained safe to eat.
Can You Leave Tamales at Room Temperature?
No, you cannot leave tamales at room temperature for more than an hour or two. If you are not going to eat them promptly, place them on the counter to cool, and then wrap and refrigerate them once they reach room temperature.
Don’t refrigerate your tamales while they are still warm. Doing so will raise the temperature of other foods inside your fridge and could cause them to spoil unexpectedly fast. If your fridge rises above 40 degrees F, everything in there will be compromised, so keep hot foods out until they have cooled down.
You should also leave the tamales unwrapped while they are cooling, especially if you plan to use foil to wrap them. Aluminum foil is an excellent insulator and will keep the center of your tamales hot for hours. The faster you can cool them, the better they will keep in the fridge, so don’t wrap them up until they are already cold.
The USDA considers anything about 40 degrees F the “danger zone” because bacteria can spread significantly faster above this temperature. If you leave the tamales at room temperature for more than a couple of hours, they will likely become unsafe to eat, and should be thrown away.
This two-hour window is shortened to just an hour if the room’s temperature is above 90 degrees F. Make sure you are following food safety guidelines and get the tamales in the fridge as soon as you can once they have been cooked and cooled.
Is it Okay to Freeze Tamales?
Yes, many people freeze tamales, and this is perfectly safe. Again, you should cool them (if you have cooked them) and wrap them tightly before freezing them to prevent any risk of freezer burn. Both raw and cooked tamales are suitable for freezing.
Wrap your tamales in foil individually and then place them all in a sealed container or a Ziploc bag. You can then just take as many tamales as you want out at a time and place them in the fridge to defrost.
They will usually take up to 24 hours to defrost in the fridge, but if that’s too long, put them in the oven to thaw and cook at the same time. Place them in a cold oven and heat them to around 250 degrees F. Make sure that they are hot right to the center before consuming them.
You can also thaw tamales in a microwave (minus the foil), but the fridge is often the best way. Once defrosted, cook them properly so you can fully enjoy the taste and texture.
Will the Tamales Taste the Same When Refrigerated?
Often, tamales that have been refrigerated or frozen will have lost a bit in terms of their quality and texture. They are still good, but you will find that the dough is a little heavier and less appetizing.
The longer you store the tamales, the more the texture will deteriorate. Try to use tamales up quickly, especially once they have been cooked. Reheating the tamales will soften the dough and make it a little fresher, but it won’t make them taste freshly made.
Will Reheating Make Moldy Tamales Safe to Eat?
No, reheating does not make an unsafe food safe again. If your tamales have gone bad, you need to throw them away, rather than trying to reheat them. Look for things like flecks of mold, sliminess, and a sour smell to tell you whether tamales have gone off or not.
Many people think that reheating a food will make it safe again. It’s true that it will kill off bacteria, but unfortunately, it will not get rid of any toxins left by bacteria. These could make you very sick, especially if the tamales contain meat.
You should be wary of vegetable tamales too. Although you are less likely to get serious food poisoning from vegetable tamales, it can happen, and it is important to avoid this.
You should be able to safely store tamales in your fridge for up to a week, although estimates may vary if the tamales contain raw meat. If you want to keep them for longer than this, consider freezing them for up to six months. Never eat tamales that have been left at room temperature for more than a couple of hours.