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  1. Right off the bat, I will tell you that tamales are not simple to make. If you want simple, open a can and pour out the tamales.

  2. I have made tamales for years but two years ago, I volunteered to help several Mexican-American ladies during a pre-Christmas tamale making session to see how it is done by 'professionals'. We made thousands (or so it seemed) of tamales that day from start to finish. We made pork, chicken and sweet tamales. The ladies sold the tamales at their church to raise funds for their missionalry program.

  3. Tamales consist of four sub-parts. Each are separate and go together to make the finished tamale.

  4. First is the corn husk that defines the shape of the tamale and holds it together.

  5. Second is the masa (a flavored cornmeal dough) that forms the body of the tamale. Do not substitute for the lard in the recipes.

  6. Third is the filling that goes in the middle of the tamale. It can be meat or non-meat and hot, mild or sweet.

  7. Forth is the sauce that goes over the tamales just before they are served. Not all tamale recipes will tell you how to make a sauce for serving the tamales. Often at home, I will use a green or red taco sauce, like La Victoria or Old El Passo brands. They work just fine.

  8. Tamales are steamed to cook them and I have a tamale pot, that is a 12 quart enamaled kettle with a lid (it looks like a small boiling water canner). It has a special base insert that goes inside the pot and forms a platform that keeps the tamales out of the steaming water.

  9. There are many web sites that give step-by-step procedures on how to do each of these steps. Do a search on for "tamale making". Here is a good web site: / click on the "Definitions and Recipes" menu bar.

  10. If you happen to live in an area where you can buy pre-made masa, then the process is a little simpler.

  11. I have frozen my homemade tamales for up to 6 months with good success.

  12. Bill Wight


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