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How Long Does Beef Jerky Last After Opening?

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It’s been a long time since I have made homemade beef jerky for my family. But here lately, I have been buying jerky from the store or farmer’s market (even though making your own jerky is THE BEST).

Wall of Beef Jerky Bags on DisplayPin

How Long Does Beef Jerky Last After Opening?

Well, that depends! Is it commercial beef jerky? Wild game jerky? Is the jerky packaged in a vacuum sealed container?

The good news is that unopened jerky has a really long shelf life, especially if you buy it in vacuum-sealed packages.

Commercial beef jerky typically lasts a bit longer than homemade jerky. Store-bought jerky usually has a best-by date or expiration date somewhere on the package.

It also depends on how much moisture is left in the jerky.

Some people say that the shelf life of beef jerky can be a year or longer.  I can’t confirm this because the entire batch that I buy is gone in less than a week!

Close up of bag of cherry maple jerkyPin

The Best Way To Store Beef Jerky

The best way to keep your homemade jerky (or store bought jerky) is in an airtight container with an oxygen absorber. Some grocery stores have these, you can also grab some off of Amazon!

You can use a Ziploc bag as your air-tight container.  Make sure the bag is sealed and try to keep your jerky in a dark place.

For best results, be sure your jerky is stored in a cool place and out of direct sunlight!  It’s a good idea to keep your jerky in a dry place too. 

Proper storage is the key to a longer jerky shelf life. The best thing to do is to keep your jerky in the original packaging that is in a vacuum pack or in its unopened bag so that you will have a tasty treat for at least a couple of months or until you are ready to open it and eat.

So if you follow the things I mentioned, odds are good that your jerky will last.

Close up of a bag of sweet bourbon beef jerkyPin

The Best Beef Jerky Brands

Johnny Appleseed (my husband) LOVES the Mingua Brand of jerky. They have a ton of flavors!

The Mingua brand doesn’t have any preservatives or nitrites and is hand cut from a solid piece of beef! The Mingua brand has long jerky and super lean cuts of meat.

I have a secret! I did not used to like jerky! That is until I tried the jerky at The Beef Jerky Experience store! I was in Estes Park, Colorado and tried a few flavors from the Beef Experience store in town while I was checking out the Elk rut festival.

This festival needs to be on your bucket list!!  Seriously! The Elk just walk right in front of you like they own the place!  It is truly an amazing experience!  But back to jerky!

I tried three flavors of beef jerky and LOVED all three.

My favorite store bought beef jerky is the Cherry Maple Smoked Beef Jerky.  It is delicious! The taste is subtle with a hint of smoke and sweet finish.  This jerky is not chewy at all and reminded me of bacon that is cooked but not crispy! 

My second favorite is the Prime Rib Traditional Beef Jerky.  This jerky is a little chewier and has the flavor of a traditional beef jerky.

Finally, I love the Reaper Smoked Beef Jerky! This jerky packs some serious heat but it is oh so good!

Can Beef Jerky Go Bad? Absolutely!

Most people don’t think of jerky as being in the perishable foods category but it definitely can spoil.

Jerky is a meat product! While I have not had unopened beef jerky, turkey jerky or commercial jerky go bad, I have heard stories.

  • A good rule of thumb is that open jerky lasts about four days. After four days, the jerky will more than likely get hard but not necessarily go bad.
  • Store-bought beef jerky can last about seven days.
  • Fresh jerky can sometimes be less chewier than the drier style jerky. 

Whichever one you choose, it’s a good option to keep your opened jerky products in a freezer bag. 

How To Tell If Jerky Has Gone Bad

Regarding food safety with jerky food products, here are a few important factors to keep in mind when determining if what you see are signs of spoilage.

A telltale sign of spoilage would be the growth of bacteria, signs of mold or water droplets in the bottom seal of the bag.

The first thing I do is smell!  I compare jerky smells. You will get the strongest smell when your jerky is at normal room temperature.

Anytime you notice bacterial growth, a change in color, white spots or a rotten meat smell – throw it away!  Trust me, you will remember the smell of bad meat!

Pro Tips To Help Your Jerky Last Longer

If you want your jerky to last longer, the best method is to refrigerate and keep it in a Ziploc bag or vacuum-sealed container so that there is a lack of moisture.

If you have a vacuum sealer and want to seal your opened jerky and freeze, that’s great.  Pay attention to your jerky package! You want to make sure you keep an eye out for freezer burn!

For future reference, one of the worst things that you can do is store your jerky in the fridge or out of the package in an open bag.  You will end up with super dry jerky. Jerky needs to be kept in a sealable bag so that the moisture content can be controlled. That is, unless you want dry jerky!

Happy Jerky!

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2 Comments

  1. Yummmmm now I want beef jerky! And I need to get to that elk festival!!

    1. You will love it! The views will take your breath away!