Even though beef jerky is shelf-stable, it needs to be stored properly to remain tasty at all times. However, whether or not jerky needs to be refrigerated really depends on the kind of meat snacks you buy. Let’s dive in.
Some unopened jerky from a store is vacuum-sealed, while other unopened packages are sealed in a modified atmosphere. As a result, you can store unopened jerky in your pantry for up to a year or until the expiration date printed on the package.
How to Store Beef Jerky
An airtight container kept in a cool, dry location, such as a pantry or kitchen cabinet, is the best place to keep beef jerky.
As a fully cooked, shelf-stable food, beef jerky is extremely robust and can withstand most circumstances. But it’s crucial to store beef jerky correctly in order to maintain its best flavor and freshness. Beef jerky should be kept in dry, cool, and out of the sun’s direct rays conditions.
Here are some suggestions for preserving beef jerky.
Store your beef jerky in an air-tight container.
Oxygen is the enemy of fresh beef jerky.
The shelf life and freshness of the jerky will increase if there is little contact with air. Additionally, it will eliminate any environmental factors like heat, humidity, and other gases that the jerky might encounter.
When it comes to commercial beef jerky, the original packaging is your best bet. Nearly all of the oxygen inside the package is removed during packaging in a commercial facility. An oxygen absorber, which scavenges and removes all free oxygen from the bag, is that tiny white packet in the bag.
The packaging quality is one of the primary distinctions between store-bought jerky and homemade jerky. Commercial jerky lasts longer because of the quality of packaging. Additionally, commercial jerky is produced to specific dryness standards to ensure shelf life.
It’s crucial to keep the jerky away from air once the package is opened. Most jerky bags will come with a resealable enclosure. This makes things easy. We advise placing the jerky in a ziplock bag if the package doesn’t have a zipper. Don’t forget to remove as much air as possible.
Keep your air-tight container of beef jerky at ambient temperature.
Temperature can also negatively affect beef jerky. Both opened and unopened bags of jerky may experience condensation from high heat, which can result in mold. It’s not just heat, though. Temperature swings from hot to cold and from cold to hot can also harm the jerky. These quick changes may be detrimental to the flavor, consistency, and appearance.
Read our guide to mold on beef jerky if you’re concerned.
Between 40°F and 75°F is the ideal range for storing beef jerky. The texture and freshness of the jerky may be negatively impacted by prolonged exposure to these temperatures. When it comes to temperature, a pantry or kitchen drawer is the best place to store items.
You can freeze beef jerky if you want to keep it fresher for longer. Jerky will lose texture, flavor, and freshness after being frozen, so freezing is a great way to keep it for longer than a year.
Learn more about Freezing Beef Jerky.
Keep your beef jerky out of the sun.
Direct sunlight is not ideal for beef jerky, especially for extended periods of time.
First, sunlight causes heat damage. Mold can grow on beef jerky due to the sun’s increased temperature. The jerky can also be denatured by sunlight, losing color and freshness. A little sun exposure is okay, but prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays will harm the jerky.
Why doesn’t unopened beef jerky need to be refrigerated?
The secret is in the dehydration.
Moisture is taken out of the meat during the cooking and drying process. This makes beef jerky lightweight, nutrient dense, and shelf stable. If something is shelf stable, it can be safely kept at room temperature in a sealed container without needing to be refrigerated.
From a scientific perspective. Water is necessary for the survival and reproduction of a variety of enzymes on food, whether they are bacterial, fungal, or naturally occurring in meat. These enzymes are prevented from growing and contaminating the food by the removal of moisture, which preserves the food.
So why does some jerky require refrigeration after opening?
Modern food packaging techniques, such as vacuum sealing, nitrogen flushing, and oxygen absorbers, enable jerky producers to produce a type of jerky with more moisture. The packaging’s oxygen-free environment prevents any potential problems that could arise from additional water activity. However, once the package is opened and exposed to outside air, this changes. It needs to be refrigerated at this point because of the amount of moisture present.
The good news is that every piece of packaging that needs to be refrigerated will be clearly marked. If the jerky package contains no information about refrigeration, it can be kept at room temperature without needing to be refrigerated.
What about homemade jerky?
Our discussion has focused primarily on store-bought jerky.
Commercial jerky is processed and packaged differently from homemade jerky. It is advised to keep home-made jerky in the fridge from the start.
Unless you can measure the jerky’s water activity and find that it is at an acceptable level of under 0, 85, then refrigeration is the best place to store homemade jerky.
Homemade jerky will, on average, keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 months.
An in-depth look at How to Store Homemade Beef Jerky is provided here.
Storing Beef Jerky in Mason Jars
Mason jars work well for preserving a wide range of foods, including pickles, jams, jellies, and grains. It’s not ideal, however, for beef jerky. It’s challenging to empty a mason jar of all the oxygen. The freshness and flavor of the jerky may be diminished by the air that surrounds it.
A unique and entertaining way to serve beef jerky is in mason jars. Stick to plastic bags and other containers that can remove more oxygen when it comes to storing beef jerky.
One of the oldest and most popular methods of food preservation in the world is dehydration. Prior to the invention of refrigeration, food was preserved by drying. Jerky has been enjoyed for centuries by Native Americans and ancient Egyptians alike. Traditional jerky is so thoroughly dried that it doesn’t need to be refrigerated or packaged differently.
Beef jerky is a favorite snack of campers, hikers, and outdoor sports enthusiasts due to its shelf stability. Jerky that hasn’t been opened lasts a long time, doesn’t need refrigeration, and has a high nutritional content.
Check for any instructions that say to “refrigerate after opening” after a package has been opened. “We advise discarding the package if you see this warning and it has been out of the fridge for more than three days.
Check out our article Does Beef Jerky Go Bad if you’re not sure if the beef jerky you have is still safe to eat.
Looking for a new beef jerky?
We bring the old school to the new school. Our jerky is made by hand in Downtown Los Angeles following a 90-year family tradition that spans four generations. A tradition that produces better-quality, better-tasting, and healthier jerky is based on premium ingredients and a handcrafted manufacturing process. This is not gas station junk food. This is not a trendy snack that was created to emphasize product benefits over flavor. This is real food, made by real people. Small batch, artisan-quality beef jerky delivered direct to your door.
A food fanatic and lover of all things beef. Sara has an unhealthy obsession with all things beautiful, so you can usually find her playing with her dog Pearl, checking out new wine bars, or experimenting with makeup.
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Do you really have to refrigerate beef jerky?
Jerky that has been properly dried will last two weeks at room temperature in a sealed container. Refrigerate or freeze jerky for the best results, to extend shelf life, and to maintain the best flavor and quality.
How to make beef jerky that doesn t need to be refrigerated?
It doesn’t need to be refrigerated if the jerky is dried properly. Modern food packaging techniques, such as vacuum sealing, nitrogen flushing, and oxygen absorbers, enable jerky producers to produce a type of jerky with more moisture.
Why is beef jerky safe to eat even though it is kept at room temperature?
The magic of beef jerky lies in the dehydration process. Beef jerky is a shelf-stable product because all of the moisture has been removed. It can be stored without refrigeration. Lack of moisture and air-sealed packaging make for a product with a long shelf life.
Can you eat beef jerky left out overnight?
A perishable food, such as meat or poultry, may not be safe if it has been out at room temperature for more than two hours or overnight. Discard it, even though it may look and smell good.