How to store masa dough?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “How to store masa dough?” and will discuss how to freeze masa dough.

How to store masa dough?

To store the masa dough, Wrap the masa in plastic wrap and place it in an airtight container in your refrigerator to keep it fresh as long as possible. The low temperature will help keep mold at bay, and the airtight seal will keep it from becoming too dry.

Currently, the United States, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, India, France, Indonesia, South Africa, and Italy produce 79% of the world’s maize production. Between 1990 and 2011, the number of millions of maize hectares harvested ranged from 129.1 to 163.9. During the same period the production of maize in metric tons per hectare increased from 3.7 to 5.1, and total maize production increased from 482.0 to 832.5 million metric tons. Worldwide, 60–70% of maize production is used domestically as livestock feed, and the remaining 30–40% is used for production of items for human consumption (1).

What does Masa mean exactly?

Masa is a common ingredient in Latin American dishes. All sorts of things may be prepared with this maize-based dough, including corn tortillas and fruit-filled dessert tamales. There’s no waiting around for this dough to rise; it’s ready in seconds and has a mildly sweet taste that’s unmistakably maize.

To create masa quickly, just combine masa harina and water in a bowl. Alternatively, masa preparada is available in Mexican grocery shops and may be made in seconds. You may cook masa in a variety of ways, so make sure you read the ingredients list or label before you purchase.

Masa is prepared with just two ingredients: wheat and water, or broth if you want. However, to make the dough fluffier for tamales, lard is also included. Tangelo masa is often not vegan-friendly unless otherwise indicated. Of course, you have more say in the outcome if you make it yourself.

Industrially, masa is nixtamalized corn flour. In alkali processing or nixtamalization, whole maize is cooked with an excess of water treated with calcium oxide. The alkali process improves flavor, starch gelatinization, and water uptake (1).


Treatment of maize with calcium hydroxide or lime is known as nixtamalization. Nixtamalization is a process where corn is boiled in a 1-5% lime solution. This process weakens the cell walls and softens the pericarp, making it easier to remove the pericarp. The cell wall in the peripheral endosperm is softened and the starch granules are partially gelatinized and damaged. During this process, corn starch granules are changed both physically and chemically, which has a direct impact on the functional properties of the masa, such as the texture, crispiness, color, flavor, and shelf life (2). 

In the industry, first, dried maize is soaked in a solution of water with lime, often with ashes mixed in. The grain is then cooked, steeped, drained, and rinsed multiple times. The grain is then ground to make a wet dough from which tortillas are formed or allowed to dry into flour. Nixtamalized maize has several benefits compared to unprocessed grains: they are more easily ground and have a higher nutritional value (increased bioavailability of niacin, improved protein quality, increased calcium) and reduced mycotoxins content (1).

For this recipe, we first boil and soak the corn kernels in lime water rather than grinding them up straight from the can. After that, the corn is carefully washed to get rid of the lime and the hulls. When it has dried completely, it is ready to be ground.

After the husk is removed, the nutrients in the corn are simpler to absorb thanks to nixtamalization. It also boosts the amount of niacin in the diet, which helps to better balance the nutritional profile.

The kernel has been renamed to nixtamal and has many uses as a result of nixtamalization. The fine masa harina flour is created after grinding, and it may be reconstituted immediately with water to form masa, which is a dough.

Is Masa’s life expectancy short?

It’s best to use your dough right away or keep it in a cool, dry place. The corn dough spoils fast if you don’t keep an eye on it. Masa is kept for three days in the refrigerator. Furthermore, it is more prone to spoil or be too dry to handle and adequately cook.

If it is not going to be used for several months, it is best to store the masa at a temperature just above freezing in a low moisture environment. When it will only be stored for a few days, a 70-75 ºF room with low moisture will maintain the masa quality (2).

It is possible for poor masa to grow mold or start to get sour, which is distinct from the intentionally soured sourdough masa, called Madre (literally “mother” in Spanish). During incubation of sourdough and dough fermentation, biochemical changes occur in the carbohydrate and protein components of flour owing to the action of microbial and endogenous enzymes. Lactic acid bacteria are responsible for the fermentation of masa (4).

Masa, Are You Able to Freeze It?

If you’d rather prepare your masa ahead of time, you can store it in the freezer without losing any of its nutritional value. Masa will keep in your freezer for 3 to 6 months if properly packed. After that, the taste and quality will degrade. Dough that is prone to breaking and crumbling will be less delicious, as well as more difficult to work with and cook.

Always mark the dates on the packets of masa in your freezer so you’ll know when to take them out of the freezer.

How to freeze Masa?

The freezing of masa is possible, in order to extend its shelf life. However, it will change the properties of the dough. Studies show that frozen dough gradually deteriorated and led to altered morphology and lower texture retention ability. The altered structure results in leaching of lipids, proteins, and characterization of gelatinization and pasting behavior of dough. Corn flour was found to be supreme for frozen dough quality, where freezing brought about some stress on the granules and caused deterioration of granules and loss of integrity. Previous studies clearly indicated that freezing can cause coarse and broad granules which may be due to the formation of ice crystals (3).

When it comes to freezing masa, you have two choices. Depending on how you want to use it, you may shape and prepare it into tortilla or tamale dough or freeze it as is, which is less dependable but still quite efficient.

  • Make a Dough and Shape It

Before freezing your masa dough, press it if you know you’ll be using it to make tortillas

 Use plastic wrap or parchment paper to separate the tortillas, and then gently stack them in a freezer-safe bag of the right size. If you’re making tamales, dumplings, or anything else with the dough, freezing it uncooked is the best way to store it.

Spread them out on a baking sheet and freeze them one at a time until solid. Then store them in a freezer-safe container for future use. Reshaped masa may be stored for up to six months if properly stored.

  • The dough should be frozen in an unshaped state.

Even if you know what you’re going to do with your masa, you may freeze it in a freezer-safe bag or container if you’re not sure. As a result of the freezing process, the dough will lose part of its structure, making it more difficult to work with and form when thawed. It must be used within three months after the purchase to prevent any complications.

Frozen Masa Thawing Instructions

Fully prepared meals, such as empanadas made from masa, may frequently be cooked frozen or thawed in the refrigerator overnight if you’ve already made them.

Tortillas thaw fast if stored packed in a refrigerator or freezer bag and kept at room temperature. Within an hour, they’ll be ready to go.

You should let the frozen dough sit in your refrigerator overnight to defrost. You may alternatively defrost the dough on your counter by covering it with a cold, damp cloth and leaving it there for up to 3 hours, depending on how big your dough is.


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “How to store masa dough?” and discussed how to freeze masa dough.

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Gwirtz, Jeffrey A., and Maria Nieves Garcia‐Casal. Processing maize flour and corn meal food products. Ann New York Acad Sci, 2014, 1312, 66-75.


Weber, Rebecca J. Shelf life extension of corn tortillas. 2008. Kansas State University.


Aplevicz, Krischina Singer, Paulo José Ogliari, and Ernani Sebastião Sant’Anna. Influence of fermentation time on characteristics of sourdough bread. Braz j pharmaceut sci, 2013, 49, 233-239.