How to Store Homemade Beef Jerky for Maximum Freshness

Homemade beef jerky is a tasty and protein-packed snack that’s fun to make. But improper storage can lead to lost moisture, texture, and flavor. Follow these tips to keep your homemade jerky fresh and delicious.

Why Proper Storage Matters

Beef jerky owes its long shelf life to being dried, which removes moisture that bacteria need to grow. But jerky can still lose quality over time, primarily due to these factors:

  • Moisture – Any remaining moisture or exposure to humidity will make jerky soggy.

  • Oxygen – Exposure to oxygen can cause fats to oxidize, leading to rancidity.

  • Light – Light can accelerate chemical breakdown, especially of fats.

  • Heat – Heat speeds up chemical reactions that lead to stale, unappealing jerky.

Proper storage blocks moisture, light, oxygen, and heat to keep homemade jerky tasting great. Let’s look at the best methods.

Store in an Airtight Container

An airtight container is the first line of defense because it:

  • Prevents oxygen and moisture from getting in
  • Keeps jerky-loving pests out
  • Blocks light to prevent oxidation

Good options include:

  • Plastic freezer bags – Sealable and flexible to remove air. Double bag for extra protection.

  • Mason jars – Screw-top lids provide an airtight seal.

  • Plastic containers – Look for airtight lids. Consider small containers for portioning.

  • Vacuum sealing – Removes oxygen but can overly compress jerky. Best for long-term storage.

No matter the container, press out excess air before sealing to reduce oxygen exposure.

Store in a Cool, Dry Place

A cool, dry storage spot gives your jerky the longest shelf life. Avoid:

  • Direct sunlight
  • Heat sources like appliances or heating vents
  • Damp areas like bathrooms or basements

Good spots include pantries, cabinets, and counter tops away from heat, light, and moisture.

Refrigerate or Freeze for Even Longer Freshness

For maximum shelf life, store homemade jerky in the fridge or freezer.

Refrigeration (40°F or below) greatly slows chemical reactions while still keeping jerky easily accessible.

Freezing (0°F or below) puts jerky in a state of suspended animation, stopping chemical reactions for even longer freshness.

Double wrap or bag jerky before freezing to prevent freezer burn. Defrost frozen jerky in the fridge, not on the counter.

How Long Does Homemade Beef Jerky Last?

With proper storage, here are general guidelines for homemade beef jerky shelf life:

  • Pantry – 1 to 2 months

  • Refrigerator – 6 to 12 months

  • Freezer – 1 to 2 years

Jerky may last a bit longer or shorter depending on ingredients, drying method, and other factors. If mold appears or jerky smells “off,” it’s time to toss it.

For the best results, store any jerky not eaten within 1 month of making in the fridge or freezer.

Storage Tips for Fresh, Delicious Jerky

Follow these additional tips to ensure your jerky stays fresh and flavorful:

  • Let jerky cool completely before bagging to avoid condensation.

  • Label bags or containers with the date for easier tracking.

  • Inspect periodically and discard if you see moisture, crystals, or fuzz.

  • If a container is breached, re-bag the jerky to block oxygen.

  • When taking jerky out, close the container quickly to limit air exposure.

  • Avoid Repeated thawing and refreezing as this speeds decline in quality.

  • If jerky seems dry, add a piece of bread or apple slice to bag to add moisture.

Enjoy Your Jerky Freshness

With a quality recipe and proper storage, you can keep homemade jerky tasting great for many months. Sample your jerky over time to find the ideal balance of ingredients and drying that suits your taste. Part of the fun of making jerky is tweaking recipes and methods to create your ideal snack.

Follow these best practices for storing jerky, and you’ll be rewarded with a flavorful, textured treat anytime you get a hankering. Making homemade jerky is very rewarding, and proper storage lets you enjoy the fruits of your labor for months to come.

Making Beef Jerky! || Preserving our Leftover Meat Before it Goes Bad! || Dehydrated Jerky


How long will homemade beef jerky last?

Homemade beef jerky, on the other hand, should last one to two months if you store it in an airtight container after making it. If you store beef jerky in a Ziplock bag in your pantry, it’ll last about a week. And, if you store your beef jerky in the fridge, you can expect it to last one to two weeks.

Does jerky go bad if not refrigerated?

Jerky can be kept in your pantry for up to a year or until the best-by date on the package. Once opened, you should keep your jerky in the fridge.

Does homemade dehydrated beef jerky need to be refrigerated?

Because most of the moisture is removed, it is shelf stable — can be stored without refrigeration — making it a handy food for backpackers and others who don’t have access to refrigerators. Jerky is a food known at least since ancient Egypt.

How do you keep homemade jerky from molding?

Minimal oxygen exposure will minimize the potential for mold growth. If you’ve opened a bag of jerky and want to maintain freshness and prevent mold, we recommend storing it in an airtight bag. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but the less air the better.

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