I’m hosting our annual tamalada this weekend. I am so excited! It’s my favorite family event of the year.
Nothing makes me happier than seeing my entire Familia together, making tamales.
My Abuelita would be so proud we are carrying on this beloved tradition.
Have you attempted making homemade tamales at home?
Are you intimated by the process? Don’t be. I’m here to help.
Let’s start off by prepping the corn husks that we will use to wrap our tamales.
What are Corn husks? Corn husks are the outer covering of an ear of corn. They are dried, to be used in making tamales or encase foods to be steamed. You can find corn husks year-round here in Texas, pero come December you find them located near the produce area, in huge displays along with dried chile ancho. Look for bags of corn husks: free from tears, free of moisture (which causes the husks to mold) and free of debris. Corn husks are used to make tamales, they hold the tamales together and help keep them from drying out. The corn husks allow the steam to penetrate while the tamales cook. You can also find dried corn husks online.
How to Prepare Corn Husks:
The evening before you are set to make tamales, remove your corn husks form the pkg. I like to give them a quick look over, to remove any debris, threads, molded corn husks, or torn husks.
I place my corn husk in large restaurant plastic storage containers. Depending on how many tamales you plan to make, use a container or a few to soak your corn husks in. You can use a cooler, ice bucket, a stockpot or your sink. Clean each container thoroughly before adding corn husks.
Before we add the corn husk to our container give them a quick rinse under cold water to remove any dirt, dust collected in shipping/storage and any threads.
Place corn husks in the appropriate container, then top with hot water. You will want to weigh down the husks, so they don’t float to the top – you want the husks to be submerged in the water the entire time.
I use my Abuelita’s molcajete, but you can use any heavy pot, a Dutch oven works well. My uncle uses bricks from his garden to weigh down his corn husks. He washes them thoroughly then wraps them in foil before adding them to his container to weigh down the husks. Once he is finished making tamales, he unwraps from foil, washes and he returns them in his garden.
I like to soak my corn husk overnight since we make a TON of tamales, but if you only plan to make a few dozen you can soak the corn husks for at least two hours in hot water. You want the husk to be soft and pliable, ready to wrap your tamales.
When you are ready to assemble your tamales, remove corn husks as needed leaving the remaining to soak. Place on a baking sheet, cover them with a damp paper towel to help retain their moisture. If the corn husks begin to dry out, return to water and allow to soak.
I hope this helps you plan, prep to make tamales. Find more info here on how to make tamales and how to host a tamalada. Good luck, tomorrow we chat masa!
Dana Preston says
What if you use fresh husks from straight off the corn?
Mary G says
Thank you! I grew up in Texas and live in New England now. I just just got a batch of corn husks from our produce store. I plan to make tamales in about 3 weeks. Do I need to do anything with them until then, or can I just put them in a bag and put it aside?
Thank you so much for this helpful information. Can you tell me the best way to store leftover corn husks and how long they will keep?