When food was scarce, the need to keep a protein source edible for extended periods of time led to the invention of jerky.
Meat is preserved from spoilage by dehydrating it to remove moisture, which prevents bacterial or fungal enzymes from reacting with the meat. This increases the beef jerky’s shelf life so that it can be kept for longer.
What began as a Native American method of preserving meat for use in emergencies has transformed into delicious snack food. [feast_advanced_jump_to].
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Beef jerky is one of the greatest snacks available. Despite being dried, it still contains all of beef’s beneficial nutrients, including protein, zinc, iron, vitamin B12, and phosphorus. This makes it easier to eat on the go and lasts longer.
Beef jerky is dehydrated, but that doesn’t mean it keeps for ever. If you want to get the most benefits from the snack without getting sick, you should eat beef jerky before the end of its shelf life.
Does Beef Jerky Go Bad? Does Beef Jerky Expire?
Like most things, beef jerky will eventually expire.
Beef jerky, however, can be kept for up to a year in the refrigerator or pantry and for up to two years in the freezer when it is properly sealed.
You should consume unopened beef jerky within the first few months if it is kept in the pantry. Jerky that has been opened should be consumed within four months in the refrigerator, and it can last up to two years in the freezer.
Jerky has a very long shelf life compared to other products like eggs, deli meat, and sausage. This is because of how it is dehydrated and preserved, which is a long line of techniques used throughout the history of food to support other cultures all over the world.
How Long Does Beef Jerky Last? — Frequently Asked Questions
Use this as a quick reference for the shelf life of beef jerky.
How Long Does Unopened Beef Jerky Last?
Beef jerky that hasn’t been opened and is properly sealed can be stored for up to two years in the freezer or pantry.
How Long Does Open Beef Jerky Last?
An open package of jerky has a much shorter lifespan.
Within the first few weeks after opening unsealed jerky that is kept in the pantry, you should enjoy it. Any opened beef jerky can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three weeks and the freezer for up to two months.
How Long Does Homemade Beef Jerky Last?
When kept in the pantry, any homemade or self-made jerky should be consumed within one to two months of preparation. In the refrigerator, homemade beef jerky will keep for up to three months, and in the freezer, it will keep for six to eight months.
How Long Does Beef Jerky Last in the Fridge?
Whether the beef jerky is homemade or store-bought, its shelf life in the refrigerator varies:
- Beef jerky that is still sealed properly can last up to a year in the refrigerator.
- Refrigerator shelf life for opened beef jerky is three weeks.
- Homemade beef jerky can be stored in the fridge for up to three months.
How Long Does Beef Jerky Last in the Freezer?
In the freezer, beef jerky can last for up to two years.
Can You Eat Expired Beef Jerky?
You can eat jerky after it has expired or passed its best-by date if it is kept sealed and stored properly for a few months. However, it’s likely that your jerky has already gone bad if it was exposed to moisture, extremely hot temperatures, air, or other similar elements.
Signs of Jerky Spoilage
Like regular cooked meat, bad beef jerky doesn’t always exhibit signs of deterioration. However, there are a few telltale signs that your beef jerky is past its sell-by date. Ultimately, you must use your best judgment to decide whether or not your jerky is suitable for consumption.
It is definitely spoiled if it smells off or rancid in any way. It’s best to perform a sniff test to detect any unusual smells. It is beneficial to have someone else check your sense of smell if you have a poor sense of smell.
Another indication is if your jerky has any visible mold or other types of bacteria growing on it. If you notice either, throw it away without a doubt; do not take a chance by removing the unhealthy portions and eating the remaining food.
Last but not least, you should examine the color and texture of your jerky. For instance, it might be bad if it appears darker or feels harder. The flavor and texture will be unpleasant because they will taste different and be extremely difficult to chew, even if you want to keep eating it.
You want to consume dried jerky that is not rock-solid. Additionally, you want the flavors to be as fresh as possible to avoid tasting the effects of spoiled ingredients.
How to Store Beef Jerky Properly to Make it Last
There are a few ways to store your beef jerky, as was previously mentioned.
When vacuum-sealed, beef jerky can last for up to a year or longer. But that’s not all.
Your vacuum-sealed jerky must be kept in a cool, dry location away from light and moisture. The majority of people choose to keep their packaged jerky in a pantry or kitchen drawer. The ideal temperature for jerky is between 40 and 75℉.
Does Beef Jerky Need to Be Refrigerated?
You do not normally need to refrigerate jerky. If moisture has gotten inside a torn bag, it might be wise to either throw it away or try to repair it. Repackage the jerky in Tupperware or a plastic bag if you believe it hasn’t been exposed to moisture. You can also reseal it with the least amount of moisture and air possible by using a vacuum sealing machine.
Some jerky brands might have a “Refrigerate After Opening” statement. Without this declaration, all jerky is shelf-stable after opening and doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
Can You Freeze Beef Jerky?
You might not want to consume all of your beef jerky at once because you have too much of it, don’t have enough storage space, or for another reason.
If you want to keep your jerky for a longer period of time, think about freezing it. Your jerky will lose texture, flavor, and freshness if it is frozen, but it will have an extended shelf life of six to twelve months.
You won’t have to make an educated guess as to when something goes bad if you label the container with a date for future use. Try not to push the expiration date all the way to the back or bottom of your freezer; instead, place it in a prominent location on the container.
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Jerky for Survival Preps: Shelf Life, Storage and Uses.
How can you tell if beef jerky has gone bad?
Beef jerky should not be consumed if it displays any of the following signs of spoilage: mold, discoloration, or sliminess. Fresh jerky must be uniform in color and free from any mold or other growths that could be seen. It is best to throw away your jerky and find a replacement if you see these signs on it.
How long can beef jerky last once opened?
Shelf Life: Opened vs. Unopened Manufacturer Sealed BagVacuum Sealed at HomeOpened and stored in the refrigerator1-2 years3-6 months1-2 weeksUnopened Beef JerkyShelf Life of Beef JerkyUnopened Manufacturer Sealed Bag
Can I eat 10 day expired beef jerky?
After the best-by date, unopened jerky is safe to eat as long as it has been stored properly. But it won’t taste as good as fresh jerky. Commercial beef jerky should generally be consumed within a year.
Does dehydrated jerky go bad?
Jerky that has been properly dried is non-perishable, which means it will keep for a long time but eventually lose its flavor, texture, color, and aroma. Commercial jerky package labels include a best-by date. This usually occurs one year after the meat was placed in the package.