How long does beef jerky last? Jerky means dried salted meat (any kind of meat), so beef jerky will mean dried salted beef meat. It is a slice of lean trimmed meat, sliced and dried.
The drying is a form of preservative to prevent spoilage. Salt is added when drying in order to prevent the growth of bacteria.
Nowadays, it is marinated with seasoned spice or liquid and dried by smoking on low heat of 160⁰F while store-bought beef jerky most times include brown sugar as sweeteners.
And some brands of beef jerky have high sugar and taste too sweet, and others have too much content of sodium. 30g portion of beef jerky contains 10 – 15 g of protein, 1g of fat, 3g of carbohydrates, and 600mg of sodium due to the salt cure.
This could pose a problem for some people who should mind their intake of sodium because excessive sodium intake can cause heart problems, blood pressure, and stroke.
Aside from the sodium error, beef jerky is rich in iron, folate, calcium, vitamins A and C, and protein.
So, how long does beef jerky last after opening?
Once opened, consume store-bought within 3 days to 1 week without refrigerating. If stored in a vacuum-sealed container, it can last for 2 months. Although beef jerky can last 1 week, 3 days is recommended for top quality and freshness.
After 3 days, inspect thoroughly before biting into it.
A drier form of jerky will keep indefinitely unopened, but once opened, the time starts NOW!
However, with salt here and drying there,
The shelf life can be extended so long it is properly stored away from oxygen (by keeping it sealed) and moisture (by drying it).
These are two potential killers of beef jerky. Refrigerating is safe as well, only that it will toughen the beef.
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How Long Does Beef Jerky Last After Expiration Date?
As long as it has been properly stored, and unopened, the package undamaged,
It will stay safe to consume even after the expiration date. Only that, there may be a slight decline in the taste.
Unopened beef jerky can last 1 – 2 years and even months beyond the expiry date if stored properly in the pantry.
For a longer keep vacuum seal beef jerky in a vacuum bag and freeze constantly at 0⁰F.
Otherwise, beef jerky will only last 2 months after the expiration date.
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Can You Freeze Opened Beef Jerky?
The answer is yes, especially when trying to preserve beef jerky beyond 1 year. If you’re not going to eat beef jerky immediately, vacuum seal it and put it in the freezer.
It is usually recommended that you freeze a few batches at a time,
And in an insulated airtight container, to prevent air from going in.
Freezing beef jerky will reduce the quality of taste, texture, and freshness.
So unless you’re storing beef jerky for more than a year, there’s no point in freezing cos it is shelf-stable for a long time.
There’s a trick to removing air use a ziplock bag and seal, leaving a small space in the middle,
Then suck out air as much as possible and seal quickly.
It is recommended that you wrap beef jerky in an aluminum foil before keeping it in a freezer bag or airtight container.
This extra layer prevents freezer burn, drying out, and toughening.
Always label the container with the date so that you can keep track of how long it is sitting in the freezer.
Some brands recommend against freezing beef jerky because, according to them, it will not provide an ‘optimal’ experience.
How Long Does Opened Beef Jerky Last In The Freezer?
Commercial jerky after opening will last 12 to 15 months in the freezer while homemade beef jerky after opening will last 7 to 12 months. Commercial and vacuum-sealed beef jerky will last for as long as 3 years in the freezer while homemade vacuum-sealed beef jerky will last 12 to 15 months.
It is advisable to get beef jerky out of opened bags and transfer it to an airtight container before freezing, to prevent freezer burn.
How Long Does Homemade Beef Jerky Last?
Beef jerky can last 1 to 2 months if stored in an air-tight container after making it, at least 3 months. If stored in the fridge, it will last 2 weeks, but the refrigerator will toughen it, so it’s best you leave it at room temperature in a cool, dry, dark place.
Always keep beef jerky sealed in dry cans, ziplock bags, or vacuum seals.
While store-bought has a longer shelf life because of the extra preservatives.
To keep homemade beef jerky for long, follow these steps;
- Always trim off the fat before slicing it into strips and drying
- Use salt to cure the beef jerky, it preserves it and adds flavor.
- Always dry it right and long. The longer you dry it, the longer it will last. However, don’t over-dry because it will make the texture extra chewy.
- Keep away from direct sunlight in a dry, cool environment because direct sunlight can attract mold.
Does Beef Jerky Go Bad?
Yes, after a while. Although an unopened bag of properly cooked, dehydrated, packaged, and stored beef jerky will last for long, it will go bad eventually beginning with deteriorating taste and quality.
If not properly stored, it will not even last a while.
Commercial beef jerky has an expiration date printed on packages which can guide consumers if to eat and when to discard it.
However, it remains good even after the expiration date but it is ideal to consume within 1 year.
If not properly dehydrated or stored,
It will develop mold and go rancid, which is a strike and unhealthy for consumption.
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How Can You Tell If Beef Jerky Is Bad?
It is pretty easy to know if beef jerky is still good. Follow these steps;
- Check for the expiration date, if it has elapsed or not.
- Inspect the package for any damage. Inspect thoroughly because if it’s opened, bursts or leaked, air and moisture get in to spoil the beef jerky.
- Inspect beef jerky thoroughly for any signs of spoilage. Trust your senses and detect bad smells (rotten meat had an unavoidable, pungent smell). Check the texture if it has become slimy or mushy, a good beef jerky is supposed to be firm. If there is discoloration, cobwebs, spots, mold, or powdery substances that may be green or white, these are red flags!
- If in doubt, consult a professional, or better still, discard it.
How Long Does Dehydrated Jerky Last?
The dehydrated process involves removing all the moisture – this will make the beef jerky shell stable.
Moisture is a factor that renders beef jerky redundant, so getting rid of moisture will lead to a very long life span. Properly dehydrated, beef jerky will keep at room temperature in a sealed container for 2 weeks.
To dehydrate meat, follow these steps;
- Marinade the meat and drain with towels.
- Then arrange the strips on dehydrator trays or racks.
- Place in the oven for drying. Do not overlap the strips.
- Make sure the oven is preheated to 140⁰F. Dry until one piece cracks but not too much so it does not break when bent.
- Check after 3 hours and once drying is completed, pat dry of any oil. Allow cooling.
- Then package in glass jars or food bags and store.
How To Store Beef Jerky To Make It Last Longer?
To keep beef jerky and preserve it well, avoid moisture!
Keep in a dry place where it will not come in contact with moisture.
Keep away from sunlight in a dark room or a cupboard.
Direct sunlight will aid bacterial growth which is bad for beef jerky.
Store in a bag or airtight container that will prevent oxygen or air from getting in – air is an unfriendly condition to beef jerky.
Always maintain a steady cool temperature, cool and not cold.
You should freeze only when necessary for long-term storage
This is because freezing alters the texture and flavor sometimes.
It is better and safer to buy reputable brands which can be trusted, and are well known for their quality, good packaging, and proper drying process,
In order to get better beef jerky that will stay fresh for long without fear of food poisoning.
Vacuum seal in vacuum bags for longer-term storage.
This will keep moisture and air out and it will stay for as long as 12 months.
What Does Beef Jerky Taste Like?
It tastes salty and dried because that is what it is actually. Depending on the part of the beef, the leanest cuts usually taste tastier and delicious. And if smoked using real wood, it will have another dimension of taste.
The sweeteners present in store-bought beef jerky-like
White sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, honey, corn syrup, maple syrup, etc gives it another flavor that cannot be brushed aside.
Each ingredient has different properties and when combined together,
It increases the sweetness of yummy beef jerky.
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Get a bag of beef jerky today, add it as a garnish to your steamy soup, or eat straight from the package, relishing its goodness.
It is healthy with good nutrients to offer, only be mindful of sodium content.
It is shelf-stable, so you don’t need to fret about how long it will last.
Just ensure it is kept properly, away from dangerous conditions.
Beef jerky is not raw, it is a fully cooked meat with little moisture or no moisture that makes it immune to bacteria
And has the advantage of being safe without a refrigerator due to the salt and drying process.
It gives off a high amount of protein and less amount of fat which makes it healthy.
Remember, how long does beef jerky last after opening?