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How Long Does Beef Jerky Last? What You Need to Know!

How Long Does Beef Jerky Last? What You Need to Know!

Beef jerky is a popular treat for many people. If you want to know more about how long beef jerky lasts, keep reading!

As long as you don’t open your beef jerky packet, it can retain its quality for a few months before its label’s expiration date. Once opened, you can keep it at room temperature for about three days, or you can keep it in the refrigerator for more than a week. 

Even though we’re aware that beef jerky has a long lifespan, how long does beef jerky last? Does it go wrong at all? This guide can answer these queries and relay how to make homemade beef jerky last.

beef tableWhat Is Beef Jerky, Exactly?

Beef jerky comes from thin cuts of meat that we dry and preserve with salt and other spices. Although it may seem like a pretty contemporary snack, beef jerky has existed for centuries. Most people believe that the Inca tribes created jerky by drying buffalo meat strips to preserve them.

These days, you can get beef jerky at nearly any convenience store. It is pretty costly but is famous since it doesn’t go rancid. Storing beef jerky is very easy since it is tiny, lightweight, and in candy bar packaging. Most travelers and outdoor adventurers can effortlessly keep some packets in their rucksacks without much space.

Since beef jerky comes from lean meat, it is fatter than protein. It also contains plenty of vitamin B12, minerals, and other supplements such as iron, zinc, and niacin. It also has plenty of artificial additives, salt, and even MSG.

Beef jerky also has a lot of sugar. Although it isn’t the healthiest snack, it still works as an easy and convenient energy source for most outdoor explorers. The main benefit of beef jerky is that it comes pre-cooked, and you don’t need to do much to prepare it. You also don’t need to refrigerate it once you open the packaging.

Kinds Of Beef Jerky

Jerky is very versatile and has various flavors and preparations. You alter the flavors by substituting the marinade ingredients or their quantities. You get the traditional original taste by marinating the meat strips with salt, garlic, onions, soy sauce, sugar, salt, and other spices.

You make spicy jerky by adding more spices such as pepper or chili flakes to your marinade. Teriyaki jerky comes by exchanging the soy with teriyaki sauce. Other jerky brands can use leaner or thicker strips of meat or completely remove MSG altogether. Some producers even utilize natural preservers such as celery juice or uncured beef rather than nitrates.

You can also get jerky from venison, buffalo, and even turkey sources. More uncommon jerkies come from wild boar, tuna, and even alligators! Ultimately, there are over a hundred different types of jerky available.

How Long Is Beef Jerky Good For?

Beef jerky’s lifespan is quite long, so it is such a convenient snack. That prolonged shelf life is likely because we make jerky with dried meat. Store-bought jerky can last for two years in a vacuum seal while kept in the dark. It lasts just as long even if you add the jerky to other ingredients and cook with it. In that case, the different components can spoil first.

Why Does It Last For So Long?

Beef jerky has very little fat, which causes food to spoil quickly. You also dry the meat thoroughly, so there is very little water in the jerky. Since bacteria can grow in humid spaces, jerky is an antagonistic medium for them.

The salt in jerky works as a preservative since it maintains the jerky’s dryness. Different seasonings act like preservers, such as pepper, in which the capsaicin also prevents bacterial growth.

Even though beef jerky has a long lifespan, it doesn’t last forever. If you come across a pack of beef jerky that’s two years old, it’s best to throw it out. Ultimately, beef jerky stays good for about two years before spoiling.

Recognizing spoiled beef jerky is pretty straightforward. It might have a darker discoloration and can feel drier and leatherier. It can also give off a foul odor. Avoid eating it if your beef jerky doesn’t look old but still smells funky.

How Can We Make Jerky Last Longer?

Beef jerky can last for more than two years in an ideal scenario. When kept in the freezer, beef jerky stays suitable for the foreseeable future. Store your vacuum-sealed, packaged jerky in an airtight freezer bag, and then put it in the freezer.

That is useful if you get your jerky beforehand and wish to keep it safe. Suppose you live somewhere with scorching weather and worry about spoiling your jerky. In that case, all you have to do is store it in the refrigerator or freezer. You won’t need to worry if you keep your beef jerky in a dark, cold place, avoiding air or sunlight exposure.

How Long Does Homemade Beef Jerky Last

Store-bought jerky can last for an extended time since it has plenty of salt and artificial preservers. So, how long does homemade jerky last? Homemade jerky has a shorter shelf life since it doesn’t have many nitrate preservatives. If you prepare and store it correctly, you can extend your beef jerky’s shelf life by one to two months in the refrigerator.

Beef jerky can go wrong after a week if stored in the pantry. If you keep your homemade jerky in your freezer, you can make it stay good for a year. This only works if you store your beef jerky correctly. You either vacuum seal it or keep it in an airtight container. You also have to keep jerky away from sunlight and damp humidity.


How Can You Tell If Your Beef Jerky Is Spoilt?

When beef jerky is spoiled, it can have a different color, mainly a gray discoloration. The texture also gets frier and can have an off-putting odor.

Is Beef Jerky Safe To Eat?

Beef jerky is safe to eat as long as you occasionally have it during your outdoor excursions. Since it has plenty of salt and preservatives, it isn’t safe to consume too often.

How Long Does Beef Jerky Last In The Fridge?

Beef jerky stays good if you leave it in the refrigerator for two to three years. You don’t have to keep it in the fridge, but a refrigerator is an excellent option if you want it to stay good for years.

What Happens If We Eat Expired Beef Jerky?

Consuming old or expired goods, jerky or otherwise, can result in a stomachache, nausea, and food poisoning.

Is Food Poisoning Possible With Beef Jerky?

Of course, consuming beef jerky past its expiration date can cause extreme food poisoning.

Why Does Beef Jerky Cost So Much?

The lean meat cuts that make jerky are pretty costly. Drying and preserving the meat also takes plenty of time and resources, increasing costs.

many beef jerkyWhat Happens If You Don’t Put Beef Jerky In The Fridge?

You don’t need to refrigerate store-bought jerky. However, homemade jerky can go bad faster if it isn’t refrigerated.

Final Words

You now have the answer if you have ever thought about how long beef jerky lasts. So next time you come across an old piece of jerky hidden in the pantry, you should be able to determine whether it is safe to consume or if you need to toss it out.

Also read: How Long Does Roast Beef Last in the Fridge?

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