No matter what variety of jerky you prefer, we can all agree on one thing: fresh beef jerky is delicious. Whether you buy in bulk or just a single package at a time, maintaining good knowledge of how to store beef jerky will ensure that your supply stays flavorful and fresh.
The shelf life of beef jerky is determined by a variety of factors, the most important of which is the number of preservatives in the product. Storing jerky bought from a store that completely relies on preservatives to longer, stay fresher, or nitrate-free craft jerky with no additives is not difficult.
How Long Does The Beef Jerky Last?
“How long does jerky last?” is one of the most frequently asked questions. If you follow these instructions, your homemade jerky should stay good for 1-2 months after being airtight packaged. Jerky stored in ziplock bags in a dark pantry will keep for approximately a week; whereas, it will keep for 1-2 weeks when refrigerated.
Also Read: How To Eat Shredded Beef Jerky
Maximizing Beef Jerky’s Shelf Life
We have all been in that situation: rifling through the pantry for a snack to satisfy our salt, savory, and delicious cravings. Lo and behold, you discover a bag of half-eaten jerky that has been hidden in the back and are immediately thrilled. However, as you come to terms with the fact that your potential meal is hard as a rock and producing fuzzy things, your joy fades away.
There is no need to worry about running out of beef jerky when you know how to maximize the flavors and keep it fresh for longer. We have got some helpful tips below that will extend your meat snacks’ shelf life indefinitely.
Also Read: How Thick To Slice Meat For Jerky?
How To Make Beef Jerky Lasts Longer
Let’s have a look at what affects the shelf life of beef jerky, as well as the steps you may take to extend it.
When it comes to creating jerky, fat is the enemy. Fat spoils quickly and causes the jerky to go rancid faster than if there were no fat. Purchase lean meat with as little visible fat as possible before drying it.
Also Read: How To Tell If Jerky Is Done Dehydrating
Most commercial jerky makers utilize sodium nitrite as a curing agent to extend the product’s shelf life by one year. This keeps germs that can survive on uncooked flesh from growing in your food. It is not necessary to use a cure, and most homemade recipes do not include one. This is why you should cook your own jerky to 160° F rather than using a cure since it will be bacteria-free without one.
Also Read: How To Keep Beef Jerky Soft
Refrigerate Your Beef Jerky
Storing beef jerky after it is been opened is all about refrigeration. To keep the texture, flavor, and freshness of beef jerky, it must remain cold once the seal has been broken. Pro tip: To keep your jerky fresh for a week, store it in a zip lock bag and press out any air before placing it in the refrigerator.
Freeze Your Beef Jerky
When you are not going to eat the cooked beef jerky right away, it is best to freeze it. If frozen correctly, beef jerky can last up to 7-12 months on the shelf. Vacuum-sealed packages may be frozen without further preparation. To prevent freezer burn, use an airtight container or wrap opened bags in aluminum foil before placing them in the freezer. A pro tip: Label and date your meat so you can remember when it was made.
Also Read: How To Eat Shredded Beef Jerky
The length of time that dried jerky will keep is determined by how long it is prepared. However, if you dry the meat for too long, it will become very chewy. So aim to achieve a particular texture when drying your jerky and concentrate on the storage methods outlined below to maximize its shelf life.
Storage (Lack Of Oxygen)
One of the main reasons that business beef jerky lasts so long is because they make sure there is no oxygen in their finished product packaging. This is generally achieved by firing nitrogen into their packages to eliminate the oxygen before putting the jerky inside and sealing them up. I do not know about you, but I do not have any nitrogen on hand for jerky production! So here are some of the best procedures for storing your jerky so that it lasts longer.
- Allow cooling for at least several hours before taking in airtight containers.
- When stored in a paper bag for a day or two, the jerky will release any existing moisture, ensuring that it keeps longer. This may be done ahead of time before being placed in an airtight container.
- To add food-grade oxygen absorbers to a plastic bag or canning jar, fill it with your dried meat. By eliminating the oxygen from your package, you can help prevent bacteria development, extending its shelf life.
- To avoid deterioration, vacuum seal your food. Vacuum sealers are simple to use and ideal for maintaining homemade jerky in storage. If you’re a hunter like me, there’s a good chance you already have one of these in your kitchen. I frequently employ mine for game meat and fish. It significantly increases the longevity of your catch by keeping out oxygen.
- Keep jerky in a cool, dark location like a pantry. Warning, do not leave jerky out in the sun because this may cause condensation within the bag, which might lead to mold. A little fogging is acceptable; however, if water droplets is found inside the jerky bag, and remove it and dry it longer. Water droplets indicate that the meat was not dried long enough.
- If you want to store jerky for more than a few months, put it in the freezer. Freezing can alter its flavor, so I do not recommend it. Making smaller batches and consuming them within a month or two is preferable to making a large batch and having too much jerky at once.
How Long Does The Beef Jerky Last After The Opening?
If you are going to eat jerky straight from the bag, it should be consumed within a week. Even after being in vacuum-sealed packaging for two months, it will undoubtedly appeal to your taste buds! Most commercial jerky bags advise consumers to consume it “within three days of opening.”