Does Beef Jerky Go Bad? Shelf Life & Storage Guide

Beef jerky is a popular snack that not only tastes good but packed with nutrition. Most people tend to think beef jerky doesn’t last long since it’s made out of beef. In general, beef doesn’t last very long and must be stored in the fridge. As for beef jerky, do they go bad?

So does beef jerky go bad? Yes, beef jerky does go bad. Unlike most other beef and meat products, they tend to have a very long shelf life before going bad. Properly stored, they can last for up to 2 years.

How Long Does Beef Jerky Last?

Unlike other meat products, beef jerky doesn’t require any refrigeration. Properly stored, beef jerky can last for up to 2 years at room temperature.

This is possible due to the meat going through a process call dehydration. The meat is dried and processed to remove any moisture from it as much as possible. Since beef jerky doesn’t contain any moisture, there’s no need for them to be refrigerated.

You can also keep them in the fridge, but it’s not necessary. If you do need to place them in the fridge for some reason, beef jerky will last for up to 2 years as well.

Which Type of Beef Jerky Lasts the Longest?

When it comes to beef jerky, there are many types available. Not all beef jerky is the same due to different ingredients being used.

All beef jerky bought at the grocery stores will have an expiration date on them. You may wonder why they have a different expiration date on them. Below are the different types of beef jerky available and how long you can expect them to remain fresh.

Original: This is the most common type of beef jerky. It doesn’t have a lot of flavoring or sugar. Original flavor beef jerky will last for up to 2 years.

BBQ: Most BBQ-flavored beef jerky will have a very smoky flavor to them. Also, brown sugar and honey are added to give it a darker color and sweet taste. Due to the sugary content, this type of jerky will last about 1.5 years.

Garlic: This type of beef jerky is made with garlic to give that garlic taste. It’s usually made with garlic powder. Since garlic powder itself lasts a long time, the garlic beef jerky will last for up to 2 years.

Teriyaki: Teriyaki is the second most popular flavor for beef jerky. It’s made of spices and some sugar. Teriyaki beef jerky will last for 1.5 years.

Spicy: Peppers such as hot chilies, jalapeños, and serranos have a very long shelf life on their own. When beef jerky is made with these peppers, they will last for quite a long time. Spicy beef jerky will last for up to 2 years.

Why Does Beef Jerky Last So Long?

Beef jerky lasts for a long time due to two reasons. The first reason why beef jerky lasts so long is that the beef has all the moisture removed. Raw beef has a high concentration of moisture in it. Due to the moisture, it breaks down the meat much quicker, which results in them needing to be consumed quickly.

Beef jerky goes through a dehydration process where it’s dried to remove all the moisture from it. But first, flavoring and spices are added to the beef. Then it’s placed into a dehydrating machine where it will be dried.

The second reason why beef jerky lasts for a long time is that there is no air in the package. Most manufacturers will either vacuum seal the package or inject nitrogen in the package.

Vacuum sealing is done by using a machine to suck all the air out before it’s sealed tightly.

Injecting nitrogen, on the other hand, will simply force the air out of the bag and then is quickly sealed. The nitrogen also helps preserve beef jerky.

How To Store Beef Jerky

If you bought beef jerky from the store, it’ll most likely is sealed in a package. As long as the package is not opened yet, you can place them in the pantry. Just like most foods, beef jerky should not be exposed to direct sunlight or air. Keeping them in the pantry or cupboard will help keep them fresh for a long time.

If the package of beef jerky has been opened, it’s best to consume them within 2 weeks. Any leftovers should be sealed back tightly. If you’ve ripped the package, transfer the beef jerky to an airtight container or resealable plastic bag.

As for storage in the fridge, it’s unnecessary to do so. Storing beef jerky in the fridge will not extend its shelf life. It could actually make the beef jerky go bad much quicker. The reason for this condensation occurring in the bag. As the fridge is open, warm air rushes in and raises the temperature in the fridge. This will cause the plastic bag storing beef jerky to have moisture. The moisture will cause the beef jerky to become soggy and go bad.

Signs that Beef Jerky Has Gone Bad

When beef jerky goes bad, they will usually sign of spoilage. Below are a couple of things that you should look for:

Moisture: If there is moisture inside the package, it’s mostly the jerky is bad. It may be followed by mold growing on it as well.

If you bought beef jerky from the store, it’s highly unlikely you will see moisture. However, there are some instances where you might notice moisture or wetness inside it. This could be something that went wrong during the processing of the beef jerky.

No flavor: Beef jerky will last for up to 2 years if properly stored. After that time, it will lose their flavors. You’ll still be able to eat them, but you may not enjoy eating them much.

When in doubt about the quality of beef jerky, it’s best to throw them out. Consuming jerky that has gone bad could make you sick.

Related Questions

Can beef jerky go bad if sealed?

Yes, beef jerky can go bad in a sealed package. This is usually caused by leaving them out in direct sunlight. Also, it could go bad if there is some moisture in the package. The jerky won’t go bad right away, but in a week or so, you’ll start to see mold growing on the meat.