As the holidays approach, so does the time to make tamales, but where to buy masa for tamales? I always find myself asking: where to buy prepared masa for tamales? There are so many locations near me and it is hard to make a decision!
Although making your own homemade masa for tamales is fresher, for those of us pressed with time, pre-prepared masa is great! Each brand and person, however, makes them different. It is important to first establish what kind of masa, texture, and flavor you want.
What Is Masa For Tamales?
Before you can choose a masa for your tamales, you should have a brief understanding of what it is. Masa refers to the dough, and tamales are meat-filled pastries that use corn husks and cornflour. The dough is not similar to cookie or cake dough, though.
Instead of having a firmness, the masa for tamales is stickier and lighter. This makes it difficult to form with the husks, but it is the best part! Tamales have a long history and are a traditional food made in a lot of authentic Mexican households.
Historians have evidence that tamales, like enchiladas and tacos, have been eaten, prepared, and served for thousands of years. The practice of making tamales began in Mesoamerica by the indigenous people. The inside, however, was typically filled with beans and other native plants instead of pork and non-local meat.
Surprisingly, the masa that we use today to make tamales is almost exactly the same as the masa indigenous Mesoamericans used thousands of years ago. They would grind corn kernels to create a paste and, with water and other liquids, make a dough that could be cooked and pressed into a rectangular shape. The corn husks held the shape of the tamale well and still do!
What Ingredients Are Needed To Make Masa?
Since every household has its own variation of tamales, the recipe changes slightly. While this is the case, masa usually only has a few basic ingredients. The outside of a tamale is made with:
- Masa Harina- Also known as Instant Corn Flour
- Chicken or Vegetable Stock
- Baking Powder
- Oil- Personally, I prefer to use olive oil for the additional flavor, however, you can use whatever oil works best for you! Canola oil is a popular choice in Mexican households.
How To Make Masa For Tamales
The process of making masa for tamales is long! It is a tradition where typically, family members come together and make these delicious meals. The process first starts by making the masa and collecting the ingredients. It is easier to start making Masa for Tamales when everything is measured out.
After you gather the ingredients, you can combine the dry ingredients together and mix them well. The mixing process depends on your preference. You can use a handheld blender or your own hands. It is important that all the ingredients combine well so that each tamale you make has a similar taste and consistency.
Once the dry ingredients are completely mixed together, you should add the oil. With your hands, mix the dry ingredients with the oil. During this step, you should press the ingredients together until the new mixture feels sticky and you can form it into shapes. It is ok if the dough or masa is dry as you have not added the last ingredient.
Some recipes stop here, but for extra flavor, I like to add either vegetable or chicken stock to the masa. Then mix well with your hands. You can use a spoon, but it may not saturate the dough mixture well. The masa should feel wet without being watery. As soon as you get your desired consistency, congratulations, your masa for tamales is complete!
What Can You Make Using Masa For Tamales?
Did you know that you can make other meals while using masa for tamales? Surprisingly, the same few ingredients can be used to create tortillas, fried chips, and other dishes. A common authentic Mexican dish that uses masa for tamales is empanadas!
If you have any masa leftover after making tamales, don’t worry, they won’t go to waste! This is especially true if you have other leftovers like meat and beans. You can shape the masa to make an empanada and stuff it with leftover savory fillings.
Where Can I Buy Premade Masa For tamales?
For those of us who like to use premade masa for tamales, there are many options! The first step should be to try and look for the premade masa in your local Hispanic grocery store. If you live in an area with a high Mexican population, you may find it easier!
Stores are not the only place you can buy premade masa for tamales! Small businesses and locals make their own masa at home and sell it online for pickup. This is a great option if you want a fresh and unique masa to make your tamales with!
While this is the case, premade masa for tamales also does not preserve well! Fresh premade masa only lasts about 24 hours in the fridge covered before it loses its elasticity and freshness. You can freeze masa, but it may not maintain the same texture.
There are many options when it comes to making tamales! While you can make your own masa from scratch, there are also stores and local people that sell the masa fresh and special!
How did you like this article? Did you learn anything new about looking for premade masa for tamales? If you did, let us know your thoughts in the comment section! We would love to hear from you! Share this article with friends and family interested in learning about authentic Mexican food!