Beef jerky is among today's most popular and healthy snacks. It's nutrient dense, portable and easy to consume, which makes it an ideal snack for a wide range of activities. But before you pick up some supply, you'll want to know how long beef jerky lasts.
Beef jerky has been prepared for thousands of years with the primary purpose of remaining delicious and edible for long periods of time, so it's designed to last. An ancient method of preparation, jerking meat is a simple but effective way of preserving meat that continues to this day. The combination of simple ingredients and a basic process creates food with remarkable longevity. The most important components include:
Fortunately, the magical combination of ingredients and traditional processes create a delicious treat that has stood the test of time. While ancient peoples may have developed beef jerky to make it through scarce times, today we still reap the benefits of their work.
Even with a long shelf life nothing lasts forever, and that includes beef jerky. Generally, there are two primary culprits that accelerate deterioration and make beef jerky go bad. They are:
Beef jerky that has been exposed to either of these elements will deteriorate much more quickly than jerked meat that's been kept snug and sealed in a vacuum sealed bag. So proper storage is the key to extending the life of your jerky.
All real beef jerky will eventually go bad, but it can be hard to determine what to look for. Keeping a close eye out for common signs is the best way to avoid a bad experience:
Proper storage is the single most effective way to extend beef jerky shelf life. From commercial products that are sealed by the manufacturer to home prepared jerkies, the key to extending shelf life is minimizing exposure to moisture, light and heat.
Among the many different methods to store your jerky, a comparison suggests that keeping the product sealed is among the most important:
|Shelf Life of Beef Jerky|
|Unopened Manufacturer Sealed Bag||Vacuum Sealed at Home||Zip Lock Bag||Opened and stored in the refrigerator||Vacuum Sealed in a Freezer|
|1-2 years||3-6 months||1 week to four months||1-2 weeks||Indefinitely|
Clearly keeping the jerky in a cool place can make it last longer, but once the bag has been opened deterioration will accelerate dramatically.
No, beef jerky does not need to be refrigerated; however once the package has been opened refrigerating it will prevent deterioration.
Refrigeration can be particularly important for naturally made beef jerky that does not contain chemical preservatives, since the temperature will inhibit the growth of microorganisms naturally. However, when keeping jerky in the refrigerator be sure to protect it from moisture to avoid the growth of mold.
The shelf life of beef jerky can range from one week to indefinitely based on how it's stored. If you're looking to stock up on a snack ideal for your active lifestyle, beef jerky will remain a high-quality, delicious snack when stored in a dry, cool, dark place. So if you've been wondering whether you can snack on a bag you found in your backpack from your last hiking trip, you'll likely be OK.
At Karl Family Farms, we have an assortment of delicious beef jerkies ready for activity.