Beef Jerky is Forever!

The Long Life of Beef Jerky

One of the signature features of beef jerky or any other dried meat is its longevity. Jerky, like most air dried foods, lasts for quite a long time without refrigeration, making it the quintessential camping food or trail snack. Because it is such an ideal survival food, beef jerky has become a trusted staple for outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds.

So how long does jerky last? The answer to that eternal question pivots on many variables, including the jerky maker, the jerky recipe used and the type of meat comprising the jerky. Generally speaking, commercially produced, vacuum-packed beef jerky has a shelf life of at least one year without refrigeration. Under ideal storage conditions, some varieties of beef jerky can last for two years or more. If one wishes to keep jerky of any kind for longer durations of time, freezing is highly recommended.

The Longevity of Other Types of Jerky

Other types of jerky tend to last for very long periods of time, too. Though beef jerky is generally noted as one of the longest lasting types of jerky, other jerky meats endure almost as well. Generally speaking, the leaner the meat, the longer it will last. This is because the fatty part of the meat is what leads to it going rancid after time. Consequently, if the meat used to make the jerky is low in fat to start, the resulting shelf life should be fairly high.

However, there are exceptions. If the meat used for the jerky comes from wild game, the jerky will stay good for about six to seven months. Similarly, homemade jerky prepared in a food dehydrator or conventional oven does not last as long as its commercially prepared brethren, staying good for only two to three months. Of course, these figures represent longevity at room temperature. These durations can be significantly extended with proper freezing techniques.

Why Does Jerky Last So Long?

Many people are shocked when they stop to ponder the fact that jerky endures for so long without refrigeration. The mechanism behind its longevity is actually uncomplicated, though. The moisture in any food stored over time is the medium that allows for microbial growth. Because jerky is a dried meat with almost all of its original moisture entirely removed, it is a rather inhospitable place for the growth of the little organisms that make food go bad.

Moreover, jerky naturally contains salt and may have salt added for additional flavor depending on the recipe. Salt is a natural preservative because it dampens the activity of water molecules left in the food, thus further controlling the growth of any foreign agents. Thus, the salt in jerky combines with the already decreased water content to create a food that is tasty, healthy and miraculously durable.

Making Jerky Last Even Longer

Despite the fact that jerky lasts for a long period of time without any attempts at preservation, many people wish to store it for even longer. Of course, freezing is the easiest and most accessible option in this regard. To ensure the ultimate longevity for jerky, there are additional measures that can be taken. For instance, it is always a good idea to keep jerky out of direct sunlight when storing it. This can be taken further to suggest that jerky should be stored in a dark, cool and dry place when you are not planning to eat it anytime soon. Even though jerky lasts for a long time, it never hurts to optimize its durability by storing it correctly.

Needless to say, jerky is the healthy food that lasts and lasts. The next time you are looking for recipes for food to take camping or want to pack the ultimate survival meal for your next outdoor excursion, look no further than your favorite type of jerky. It is the perfect solution that tastes great and stays great.

Source: Gary Rangland

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7 Responses to “Beef Jerky is Forever!”

  1. nytmare 17 June 2009 at 6:10 pm Permalink

    6-7 Months?
    Ive made homemade venison jerky that was good after 5 years.
    non frozen.

    • Leisa 6 February 2013 at 5:52 pm Permalink

      I would love to have your recipe since you know it last that long please
      I was wanting to make Deer jerky

    • Potty Golf Skills 26 October 2015 at 2:06 pm Permalink

      Wondering what was your recipe and how you packaged and stored it.

  2. andrew mercado 22 July 2009 at 5:34 pm Permalink

    made some jerky about 2 months ago. today noticed a white fungi on it.
    is that dangerous? I did chew on a piece that didn’t have fungi.

  3. Cleo Powers 19 August 2009 at 10:22 am Permalink

    Cleo Powers Said:
    there’s a food shortage coming. Beef Jerky is a “must” have in survival.
    It has been said & predicted by the end of Feb. 2010, the world will have a food shortage like it has never seen before.

  4. Little Pebbles Academy 12 January 2010 at 11:28 am Permalink

    Believe it or not but the beef jerky I found in the Dollar Tree stores taste great. My teeth are not what they used to be 7 it was very tender for jerky & the protein content was 32 % which is high.For what its worth, & the vprice wont wipe you out.

  5. Linda McDowell 22 February 2014 at 7:46 pm Permalink

    If I freeze jerky for a year and take it out, will it still last a year after it comes out of the freezer.

    Thanks, Linda

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