What went wrong with my tamales?

I made two dozen tamales, one pork with red chile and one cheese and roasted poblano. It was taking forever for the masa to cook so I pulled out one of the green tamales to check and the cheese (meunster) had turned orange and became the texture of a sponge. The poblano was bitter/sour and the masa was still mushy and tasted stale. The masa from the red tamales is the same and the pork has taken on that flavor as well. What happened???

Jami Archuleta


raskinsm May 11, 2020
Hello, I made South American style tamales wrapping them in banana leaves with braised pork. The pork turned out well. I used Masa Harina and lard. Neither had an aftertaste individually. However, the final product had an aftertaste. Thoughts?
Smaug June 7, 2019
I don't think it's really your problem, but the usual supermarket Maseca product is a white corn masa ground for tortillas; tamales are better with a coarser grind and yellow corn is better for pretty much anything. Maseca makes a yellow corn masa and, I'm sure, has coarser varieties for tamales, but they're not as easily available. Bob's Red Mill has a fairly coarse yellow corn masa which you may be able to find- it is a bit pricey
Jennifer K. April 20, 2020
I know om late to the game but I been using maseca for years for tamales and u have to add rice flour and lard or shortening to make it cook right.
Carlos C. June 7, 2019
If you are making Mexican or Central American-style tamales made with nixtamalized corn, the processing of the corn may have affected the flavor of the meat and poblanos. Where did you get your masa?
Jami A. June 7, 2019
My masa was made with masa harina that had gone stale in my cupboard I figured out. I used new masa and that fixed everything except the cheese part. The meunster cheese still shrivels up and becomes orange inside the tamale and I don't know why. The masa harina comes in a bag that says maseca on the front in green and yellow lettering, and I find it at every grocery store down the hispanic aisle.
Jami A. June 7, 2019
Oh and I used the white bag that says maseca on it, not the brown bag
Carlos C. June 7, 2019
Yes. Masa Harina can go stale and it will ruin everything, including tortillas. The orange coloring on the rind of muenster can easily turn the whole thing orange, and the alkaline nature of the masa can also react with the cheese. Think about an avocado - only the exterior is green, but when you mash it up, the whole avocado turns green. A lot of cheeses also get shriveled up when you cook them. I have seen the same thing happen with cheese empanadas and pan de queso - you end up with a film of rubbery cheese and a big hole in the finished product. You may want to look into a soft Latino cheese like cuajada, requeson, or quesillo. These will have a texture similar to strained ricotta and may give you better results. Queso fresco will also work very well.
Jami A. June 7, 2019
Thank you! I'm going to swap out the cheese to one of those and see if that helps
Naveyblue40 December 3, 2023
Hi! I was reading everything and was unaware Maseca harina can go stale in your cabinet. How long is good for? Or do I need to transfer like my flour into a sealed container to keep it past a year?

Will it going stale make your cooked tamales have a weird taste?

I’m trying to get this down. I’d like to make that home instead of buying them.
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