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Home ยป Why Are My Tamales Sticking to the Husk?

Why Are My Tamales Sticking to the Husk?

Anyone who knows how to make a tamale also knows that while they’re easy to make, there are some situations you want to avoid. These include mushy and sticky tamales, both of which can ruin their texture. When you first start making tamales, you may run into these issues more often than you want to admit, especially as you refine your cooking technique. 

Let’s discuss why your tamales might be sticking to the husk so you can fix this problem easily and avoid it in the future. We’ll also talk about how to fix mushy tamales so you’re prepared for any tamale-making mishap!

A tamale on a plate with the corn husk unwrapped.

What Are Tamales?

Tamales are a Mesoamerican dish made with ‘masa harina’ (corn flour dough) and filled with beans, meat, cheese, or vegetables. They might be topped with sour cream, guacamole, or pico de gallo. This portable dinner is popular throughout Latin America and was eaten by men in battle and on hunting trips back in the day. 

Tamales can be a meal on their own or part of a larger dinner. They’re filled with nutrients, including protein, fat, fiber, and vitamins. On average, one person can typically eat three to five tamales in one sitting. If you don’t want to make this many, two to three per person should suffice.

What Causes Tamales to Stick to the Husk?

If you didn’t use enough lard to make your tamales, they might stick to the husk. We all want to be health conscious, which may prompt us to leave out the lard when cooking. However, lard is what keeps the husk from sticking to your tamales. If you don’t want to use lard, substitute it with vegetable oil or butter.

Masa that is too wet can also cause tamales to stick to the husk. When preparing your dough, add enough water to make it moist (but not too much so that it gets too wet). If you mistakenly add too much water to your masa, you can fix it by adding more corn flour.

Lastly, proper wrapping is key when making tamales. If they aren’t wrapped firmly enough, they might lose their shape, or the filling might seep out, causing them to stick to the husk. On the other hand, wrapping them too tightly can lead to bursting. When preparing them, aim for a firm wrap with the corn husks or banana leaves so they maintain their shape and integrity during cooking.

What Causes Mushy Tamales?

When first removed from the steamer, freshly made tamales will naturally appear very soft, which can sometimes be mistaken for being undercooked. However, they tend to firm up as they cool down. If they still feel excessively mushy or soggy after allowing them to rest for about 10 minutes, it could indicate they need to be steamed longer. In that case, you can place them back in the steamer for an additional five minutes to ensure they’re cooked through.

When tamales are done cooking, you should be able to peel the husk off smoothly. A hard or brittle husk is a sign that the tamale is not completely cooked. 

In a Nutshell

Tamales are fun and relatively easy to make by using recipes from our website, but many beginners might run into some mishaps, which include mushy tamales and tamales that stick to the husk. Thankfully, both of these issues are avoidable by taking certain steps during the cooking process. With enough practice, you’ll be making perfect tamales for you, your guests, and your family in no time!

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