An unopened bag of commercial beef jerky won’t go bad if it has been cooked, dried, packaged, and kept in good condition. It will, however, gradually lose freshness in texture and flavor. The window of peak freshness is indicated by the best-by date on the package. 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.
|Shelf Life of Beef Jerky
|Unopened Manufacturer Sealed Bag
|Vacuum Sealed at Home
|Opened and stored in the refrigerator
How Long Does Beef Jerky Last?
Whether beef jerky is homemade or purchased from a store will determine how long it will last. Generally, commercial beef jerky is best enjoyed within one year.
However, we advise eating the jerky within six months of purchase to enjoy its premium flavor and textures.
On the other hand, if you store homemade beef jerky in an airtight container after making it, it should last for one to two months. Beef jerky will last about a week if you keep it in your pantry in a Ziplock bag. Additionally, you can anticipate your beef jerky to last one to two weeks if you keep it in the refrigerator.
Check out our turkey jerky if you’re looking for an alternative to beef jerky!
How to Tell if Beef Jerky is Still Good
It can be difficult to determine whether beef jerky is still safe to consume. Beef jerky doesn’t always exhibit obvious signs of deterioration, unlike regular cooked meat, which develops an odor if not consumed promptly.
The beef jerky may have gone bad if its color has changed, or if it has grown darker or harder. Sometimes there may be a faint odor to spoiled beef jerky.
Check the package’s expiration date every time you buy beef jerky, whether you did so online or in a physical store. The bottom seal of the bag is typically where you’ll find the expiration date. But keep in mind that just because the beef jerky has passed its use-by date doesn’t mean it’s dangerous to consume. Simply put, the “best-by” date denotes when the jerky is at its freshest.
Check the jerky package for any rips or tears as well. If you discover any, this could mean that the jerky has degraded because moisture got inside the bag.
How to Store Beef Jerky
You must concentrate on proper storage if you want your beef jerky to last as long as possible. Here are the different methods for storing beef jerky:
Using a vacuum seal bag to store your beef jerky may be the best option. You can preserve your jerky’s softness and tenderness by using vacuum seal bags to keep moisture in and air out.
The only drawback is that vacuum sealers can be rather pricey; a new one typically costs between $100 and $200. However, it’s well worth the investment if you intend to make a lot of beef jerky or other foods that require sealing.
We advise freezing the vacuum seal bag of beef jerky if you want it to last even longer. Your beef jerky can last up to a year using this technique.
Mason Jars/Dry Cans
You can keep beef jerky for months by dry canning it in a mason jar or other dry container. Plus, this method is much more affordable than vacuum sealing. What you must do to store your jerky in mason jars is as follows:
- Set your oven to 350 F.
- Mason jars with lids removed should be placed on a cookie sheet.
- Place the jars in the oven for about 10 minutes.
- Put on mitts as you take the jars out of the oven, then quickly stuff them with your jerky strips.
- After tightly sealing the jars’ tops, let them cool to room temperature. As the mason jars cool, they’ll create a vacuum seal. The jars are creating the seal if you hear popping noises.
After sealing it, you can keep the beef jerky in the refrigerator or on a shelf in the pantry.
Ziplock or Paper Bag
If you’re in a hurry, you can also store beef jerky in zip-top or paper bags. If you intend to eat the jerky soon, this method is a great choice because it will keep the food fresh for 3–4 weeks.
You can always add a food-grade desiccant bag to the paper bag or Ziplock bag if you discover that your jerky is a little too moist.
How to Make Your Beef Jerky Last Longer
Here are some additional steps you can take to extend the shelf life of your beef jerky:
Fat is detrimental to the preservation of beef jerky. Fat spoils quickly and can hasten the rate at which the beef jerky turns rancid. Before drying your jerky, buy lean meat and remove all the fat to avoid this problem.
To give beef jerky an additional year or more of shelf life, the majority of commercial producers use a cure made of sodium nitrate. The sodium nitrate prevents bacteria from harboring in the meat. Although making your own cure is not advised, you can buy beef jerky online or at your neighborhood supermarket.
The cure also contributes to the beef jerky’s redder hue and flavor.
Dry It Right
Generally speaking, beef jerky will last longer the longer it is dried. However, avoid over-drying your beef jerky because doing so will make it very chewy. To make the jerky last longer, dry it to the desired texture and concentrate on proper storage.
Additionally, make sure your beef jerky is kept in a dry, cool space, like a pantry. If you leave jerky out in the sun, the condensation it creates inside the bag can breed mold.
Time to Store Your Beef Jerky!
Your beef jerky should have a long shelf life if you follow these storage recommendations.
Check out our products if you’re looking to buy beef jerky with a long shelf life!
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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.
Can beef jerky last 10 years?
Beef jerky is non-perishable. Unlike perishable foods, which have an expiration date, jerky has a “best-by” date, which designates the window of time during which it is at its freshest. It begins to lose flavor, texture, and freshness after the best date has passed, which is typically one year after the date of production.
How long is beef jerky good after opening?
Although beef jerky can be stored for several days, it is best to consume it within three days of opening. After opening, our jerky will last longer than three days if you refrigerate it. Beef jerky will remain fresh and maintain its texture for longer if it is kept in a cool, dry environment, preventing it from quickly turning tough and stale.
How long is dehydrated jerky good for?
Beef jerky will last about a week if you keep it in your pantry in a Ziplock bag. Additionally, you can anticipate your beef jerky to last one to two weeks if you keep it in the refrigerator.