Mastering How to Store Jerky Long Term: Your Easy Guide

  • By: Chester Brown
  • Time to read: 19 min.
Chester Brown
Introducing Chester Brown, the creative force behind Flying Jerky and the visionary author behind the exhilarating journey chronicled on flyingjerky.com. Chester's passion for adventure and premium jerky has converged to create a unique platform that not only celebrates the thrill of exploration but also tantalizes taste buds with the finest jerky selections.

Welcome to your easy guide on how to store jerky long term. Whether you’re a jerky enthusiast or just looking for a tasty and convenient snack, knowing how to properly store jerky is essential to preserving its flavor and quality. In this guide, we will provide you with expert tips and tricks for keeping your jerky fresh for extended periods. From commercial jerky to homemade batches, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive in!

Contents show

Key Takeaways:

  • Proper storage is key to maintaining the freshness of jerky.
  • Commercial jerky can last up to two years when stored correctly.
  • Homemade jerky should be consumed within two months.
  • Vacuum sealing is an effective method for prolonging jerky’s shelf life.
  • Refrigeration is recommended for long-term jerky storage.

Understanding the Shelf Life of Beef Jerky

Beef jerky does not have an expiration date like perishable foods, but it does have a best-by date. Commercial beef jerky from supermarkets can last up to two years when stored properly. Homemade jerky should be eaten within two months. The best-by-date on the packaging indicates how long the jerky will maintain its quality, but it is not a hard expiration date. Properly dried and stored jerky can last for a long time.

When it comes to the shelf life of beef jerky, it’s important to note that commercial jerky typically has a longer shelf life than homemade jerky. This is because commercial jerky undergoes expert drying processes and is packaged using specialized techniques. Homemade jerky, on the other hand, is made with fresh ingredients and lacks the preservatives found in commercial jerky, which may shorten its shelf life.

“The best-by-date on the packaging indicates how long the jerky will maintain its quality, but it is not a hard expiration date.”

While commercial beef jerky from supermarkets can last up to two years when stored properly, homemade jerky should be consumed within two months. It’s important to be mindful of these timelines to ensure you enjoy jerky at its best. However, it’s worth noting that properly dried and stored jerky can often last longer than the recommended durations.

When storing beef jerky, it’s crucial to keep it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. This helps prolong its shelf life and maintain its quality. Additionally, storing jerky in an airtight container or vacuum-sealed bag can prevent moisture and air from entering, further preserving the jerky for an extended period.

Shelf Life Commercial Jerky Homemade Jerky
Storage Recommendations Up to two years when stored properly in a cool, dry place Should be eaten within two months
Best-By Date Indicates how long the jerky maintains its quality Not a hard expiration date
Storage Tips Use airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags Store in a cool, dry place away from sunlight

Choosing the Right Cuts for Making Jerky

When it comes to making delicious jerky, the choice of meat is crucial. Opting for lean cuts with low fat content ensures that your jerky will stay fresh and flavorful. Some of the best cuts for making jerky include:

  • Beef: The top round or bottom round cuts are ideal for beef jerky. These cuts are lean and have minimal fat, making them perfect for drying and preserving.
  • Elk: For those who enjoy game meats, lean cuts like the brisket flat are recommended for making flavorful elk jerky.
  • Deer: Lean cuts from deer, such as the backstrap or venison roast, can be transformed into delicious jerky with the right preparation.
  • Bison: Bison meat is naturally lean and makes for a great choice when making jerky. It offers a rich, hearty flavor that pairs well with various seasonings.
  • Poultry: Lean breast meat from turkey or chicken can also be used to create tasty and lean jerky options.

Choosing the right cuts of meat is essential to achieving the desired texture and taste in your homemade jerky. By selecting lean cuts with minimal fat content, you can ensure that your jerky stays fresh and enjoyable for longer.

Table: Lean Cuts for Making Jerky

Meat Type Recommended Cuts
Beef Top Round, Bottom Round
Elk Brisket Flat
Deer Backstrap, Venison Roast
Bison Various Cuts
Poultry Breast Meat (Turkey, Chicken)

Steps to Make Homemade Beef Jerky

Making your own homemade beef jerky is a rewarding and delicious endeavor. By following a few simple steps, you can create flavorful and high-quality jerky right in your own kitchen. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to make homemade beef jerky:

Step 1: Trim the Meat

Start by selecting a lean cut of beef, such as top round or bottom round. Remove any visible fat from the meat as fat can spoil the jerky. Slice the meat into thin strips, approximately 1/4-inch thick, against the grain for a tender texture.

Step 2: Prepare the Marinade

Next, prepare a marinade to infuse the meat with flavor. A basic marinade can be made using ingredients like soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, honey, onion powder, garlic powder, and your choice of spices. Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl or ziplock bag.

Step 3: Marinate the Meat

Place the meat strips in the marinade, ensuring that each piece is well coated. Allow the meat to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours, or preferably overnight. This will allow the flavors to penetrate the meat and enhance its taste.

Step 4: Dehydrate the Jerky

Once the meat has finished marinating, it’s time to dehydrate the jerky. There are several methods you can use, such as using an oven, smoker, or dehydrator. Follow the instructions for your chosen method, ensuring that the jerky is dried until it is tough but still pliable.

By following these steps, you can create your own delicious homemade beef jerky. Experiment with different marinades and spices to find your favorite flavor combination. Enjoy your homemade jerky as a nutritious and satisfying snack!

Dehydrating the Jerky

Now that you have marinated your jerky and it is ready for drying, let’s explore the different methods for dehydrating it. You can choose from the oven method, the smoker method, or the dehydrator method, depending on your preferences and equipment.

Oven Method: The oven method is a simple and accessible way to dehydrate jerky. Set your oven to its lowest temperature, usually around 150°F (65°C). Place the marinated meat strips on a wire rack positioned on a baking sheet to allow air circulation. Prop the oven door open slightly with a wooden spoon or oven-safe utensil to let moisture escape. This method usually takes between 4 to 6 hours, but the drying time can vary depending on the thickness of the jerky and your desired level of dryness.

Smoker Method: If you’re looking to add a smoky flavor to your jerky, the smoker method is a great choice. Preheat your smoker to a low temperature, around 150°F (65°C). Use indirect heat by placing the marinated meat strips on the smoker’s grates away from the heat source. Add wood chips of your choice, such as hickory or applewood, to create the desired smoky flavor. Smoke the jerky for approximately 4 to 6 hours, or until it reaches your desired level of dryness and flavor.

Dehydrator Method: A dehydrator provides precise temperature control and even drying, making it a popular choice among jerky enthusiasts. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to set the temperature between 130°F to 160°F (55°C to 70°C). Arrange the marinated meat strips on the dehydrator trays, ensuring proper spacing for air circulation. The jerky will typically take between 4 to 6 hours to dry completely, but the drying time may vary depending on the dehydrator model and the thickness of the jerky slices.

Dehydrating Methods Comparison Table

Method Temperature Time Result
Oven Method Approximately 150°F (65°C) 4 to 6 hours Dry and flavorful jerky
Smoker Method Approximately 150°F (65°C) 4 to 6 hours Smoky and savory jerky
Dehydrator Method 130°F to 160°F (55°C to 70°C) 4 to 6 hours Evenly dried and preserved jerky

Whichever method you choose, it’s important to monitor the drying process to avoid over-drying or under-drying your jerky. The jerky is ready when it is tough but still pliable, with a dark and leathery appearance. To check for doneness, you can perform a break test by sharply bending a piece of jerky. If it bends and cracks without breaking in two, it is likely done.

Now that you have successfully dehydrated your jerky, it’s time to move on to the next section and learn about determining if your jerky is done and how to properly store it for long-term enjoyment.

Determining if Jerky is Done

When making your own jerky, it’s important to know how to tell if it’s done. The texture, color, and break test can help you determine if your jerky is fully dried and ready to be enjoyed.

The texture of properly dried jerky should be tough but still pliable. It should feel dry to the touch, but not brittle or crumbly. When you bend a piece of jerky, it should bend and flex without breaking. This indicates that the moisture has been removed, but the jerky still maintains some chewiness.

Color is another indicator of doneness. The jerky should have a dark, leathery appearance. It may darken slightly during the drying process, which is normal. However, if the jerky appears overly dark or burnt, it may have been dried for too long.

The break test is a simple way to check if your jerky is done. Take a piece of jerky and sharply bend it. If it bends and cracks without breaking in two, it is likely done. This test demonstrates the jerky’s flexibility and ensures that it is neither under-dried nor over-dried.

Texture, Color, and Break Test: How to Determine if Jerky is Done

The texture, color, and break test are key factors in determining if your jerky is done. Properly dried jerky should have a tough, yet pliable texture. It should feel dry to the touch, but not brittle. The color should be dark and leathery, indicating that the moisture has been removed. Lastly, the break test involves sharply bending a piece of jerky. If it bends and cracks without breaking, it is likely done and ready to be enjoyed.

By paying attention to these indicators, you can ensure that your homemade jerky is dried to perfection. The drying time can vary depending on the thickness of the jerky slices and the method used, so it’s important to monitor the process closely. Once you’ve determined that your jerky is done, be sure to store it properly to maintain its freshness and flavor.

Proper Storage for Jerky

Now that you’ve made delicious homemade beef jerky, it’s important to store it properly to maintain its freshness and quality. Proper storage can help extend the shelf life of jerky and prevent it from spoiling. Here are some tips for storing jerky:

Use an Airtight Container

One of the keys to keeping your jerky fresh is to store it in an airtight container. This can be a ziplock bag or a vacuum-sealed bag. By sealing out moisture and air, you can prevent these elements from causing the jerky to spoil. Airtight containers also help preserve the flavor and texture of the jerky.

Consider Refrigeration for Long-Term Storage

If you’re not planning to consume the jerky immediately, it’s a good idea to refrigerate it. The cool temperature of the refrigerator helps slow down bacterial growth, further extending the shelf life of the jerky. Refrigeration is particularly recommended for long-term storage, especially if you want to enjoy your jerky for several months.

Summary

Storing your jerky properly is essential for maintaining its freshness and quality. Using an airtight container, such as a ziplock bag or a vacuum-sealed bag, can help prevent moisture and air from spoiling the jerky. If you’re storing jerky for an extended period, consider refrigeration to further extend its shelf life. By following these storage tips, you can enjoy your homemade jerky for months to come.

Best Practices for Keeping Jerky Fresh

When it comes to preserving the freshness of your jerky, there are a few best practices to keep in mind. These practices revolve around controlling moisture and temperature, as these factors can greatly affect the quality and shelf life of your jerky.

Moisture Control

Moisture is the enemy when it comes to jerky storage. Excess moisture can lead to the growth of mold and bacteria, causing your jerky to spoil. To prevent this, make sure your jerky is properly dried before storing it. The drier the jerky, the longer it will last. Vacuum-sealing your jerky or using airtight containers can help keep moisture out and maintain its freshness. Additionally, storing your jerky in a cool, dry place away from any sources of humidity will further prevent moisture buildup.

Temperature Control

Temperature also plays a crucial role in keeping your jerky fresh. High temperatures can accelerate spoilage, so it’s essential to store your jerky in a cool environment. Avoid exposing it to direct sunlight or placing it near heat sources such as ovens or stoves. The ideal temperature for jerky storage is around 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a hot climate, consider refrigerating your jerky for long-term storage to maintain its quality.

Summary

  • Control moisture by ensuring your jerky is properly dried before storing.
  • Use vacuum-sealed bags or airtight containers to prevent moisture from entering.
  • Store your jerky in a cool, dry place away from heat sources.
  • Refrigerate your jerky for long-term storage, especially in hot climates.

By following these best practices for moisture and temperature control, you can extend the shelf life of your jerky and enjoy its fresh and savory taste for longer.

Moisture and Temperature Control Tips
Moisture Control Temperature Control
Properly dry jerky before storage Avoid direct sunlight and heat sources
Use vacuum-sealed bags or airtight containers Store jerky in a cool, dry place
Avoid storing jerky in humid environments Refrigerate jerky for long-term storage in hot climates

Image

“Proper moisture and temperature control are essential for preventing jerky from spoiling and maintaining its freshness.” – Jerky Expert

Benefits of Vacuum Sealing Jerky

When it comes to preserving the freshness and preventing spoilage of jerky, vacuum sealing is a highly effective method. Vacuum sealing removes air from the packaging, creating a tight seal that prevents oxidation and the entry of moisture. This helps to maintain the flavor, texture, and overall quality of the jerky for a longer period of time.

By removing air and creating a vacuum, vacuum-sealed jerky can be stored in the pantry or refrigerated, depending on personal preference and the desired shelf life. Refrigeration further inhibits bacterial growth, ensuring the jerky stays fresh for an extended period. Whether you have homemade jerky or commercial jerky, vacuum sealing is a convenient and reliable way to preserve its freshness.

Not only does vacuum sealing keep the jerky fresh, but it also helps to prevent the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause spoilage. The airtight seal created by vacuum sealing acts as a barrier against external elements, maintaining the quality and safety of the jerky. With vacuum-sealed jerky, you can enjoy your favorite snack without worrying about spoilage or degradation of taste.

Differences Between Commercial and Homemade Jerky: Shelf Life and Quality

When it comes to jerky, there are distinct differences between commercially produced and homemade varieties. These differences can have an impact on the shelf life and overall quality of the jerky.

Commercial jerky, which is found in supermarkets and specialty stores, typically undergoes expert drying processes and is packaged in a way that extends its shelf life. As a result, commercial jerky can last up to two years when stored properly. On the other hand, homemade jerky, while made with personal attention to detail and high-quality ingredients, has a shorter shelf life of up to two months.

The quality of jerky can also vary between commercial and homemade versions. Commercial jerky often relies on mass production methods, which may sacrifice some aspects of flavor and texture. In contrast, homemade jerky can be made with fresh ingredients and customized flavors, resulting in a potentially superior taste and texture. By carefully selecting ingredients and taking the time to perfect the marinade and drying process, homemade jerky can offer a unique and satisfying snacking experience.

The Shelf Life Comparison of Commercial and Homemade Jerky

Shelf Life Quality
Commercial Jerky Up to two years May sacrifice some flavor and texture due to mass production methods
Homemade Jerky Up to two months Potentially superior taste and texture due to personal attention to detail

While commercial jerky offers a longer shelf life, it is worth noting that homemade jerky can still be enjoyed within its shorter timeframe. The shorter shelf life of homemade jerky is a result of its lack of preservatives and expert packaging. However, by properly drying and storing homemade jerky in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags, it can still maintain its freshness and quality for an extended period.

Ultimately, the choice between commercial and homemade jerky depends on individual preferences. Commercial jerky offers convenience and a longer shelf life, making it an ideal option for stocking up and long-term storage. On the other hand, homemade jerky allows for customization, flavor experimentation, and the satisfaction of creating a delicious snack from scratch.

“The shorter shelf life of homemade jerky is a result of its lack of preservatives and expert packaging, but by properly drying and storing homemade jerky in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags, it can still maintain its freshness and quality for an extended period.”

Tips for Selecting High-Quality Jerky

When it comes to choosing jerky, whether it’s commercial or homemade, there are a few tips to keep in mind to ensure you’re getting a high-quality product. Paying attention to the ingredient sourcing, packaging, and overall quality can help you find the best jerky for your snacking pleasure.

Ingredient Sourcing

One of the key factors in selecting high-quality jerky is the ingredient sourcing. Look for jerky made with top-quality cuts of meat from reputable suppliers. Knowing where the meat comes from can give you confidence in the product’s freshness and taste. Opt for brands that prioritize using lean cuts of meat and avoid jerky with excessive additives or fillers.

Packaging

The packaging of jerky plays a crucial role in maintaining its freshness. Look for jerky that is securely sealed in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags. This helps prevent exposure to air and moisture, which can lead to spoilage. Quality packaging also helps preserve the flavor and texture of the jerky, ensuring a satisfying snacking experience.

Texture and Appearance

Examining the texture and appearance of the jerky can provide insight into its quality. High-quality jerky should have a firm and slightly chewy texture, without being too tough or overly dry. It should have a rich and appealing color, indicating that it was properly dried and seasoned. Avoid jerky that appears overly greasy, discolored, or has an off smell, as these may be signs of poor quality or spoilage.

Reading Reviews

Reading reviews and recommendations from other jerky enthusiasts can be helpful in selecting high-quality options. Look for feedback on the flavor, texture, and overall satisfaction with the product. Keep in mind that individual preferences may vary, so it’s best to consider a range of opinions to make an informed decision.

Factors to Consider High-Quality Jerky Poor-Quality Jerky
Ingredient Sourcing Lean cuts of meat from reputable suppliers Excessive additives and fillers
Packaging Airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags Inadequate or damaged packaging
Texture and Appearance Firm, slightly chewy texture with rich color Tough, overly dry, or greasy

By considering these tips and taking the time to choose high-quality jerky, you can ensure a delicious and satisfying snacking experience. Whether you prefer commercial jerky or homemade varieties, selecting the best jerky will enhance your enjoyment and leave you craving more.

Exploring Flavor Varieties of Jerky

When it comes to jerky, the possibilities for flavor varieties are endless. Whether you prefer a sweet and spicy kick or a savory and tangy taste, there’s a flavor out there to satisfy every palate. By experimenting with different spice blends and marinade options, you can create a unique jerky experience that tantalizes your taste buds.

One popular flavor variety is teriyaki jerky. This Japanese-inspired marinade combines the sweetness of soy sauce and mirin with the umami flavors of ginger and garlic. The result is a jerky that is both savory and slightly sweet, perfect for those who enjoy a balance of flavors.

If you prefer a bolder taste, peppered jerky is a great option. Coated with a generous amount of cracked black pepper, this jerky has a robust and spicy flavor that will surely satisfy spice enthusiasts. The heat from the pepper complements the savory meat, creating a mouthwatering combination.

For garlic lovers, garlic jerky is a must-try. Infused with the pungent and aromatic flavors of fresh garlic, this jerky packs a flavor punch. The garlic enhances the natural meat flavors, resulting in a jerky that is rich and savory.

When it comes to jerky, the possibilities for flavor varieties are endless. Whether you prefer a sweet and spicy kick or a savory and tangy taste, there’s a flavor out there to satisfy every palate. By experimenting with different spice blends and marinade options, you can create a unique jerky experience that tantalizes your taste buds.

One popular flavor variety is teriyaki jerky. This Japanese-inspired marinade combines the sweetness of soy sauce and mirin with the umami flavors of ginger and garlic. The result is a jerky that is both savory and slightly sweet, perfect for those who enjoy a balance of flavors.

If you prefer a bolder taste, peppered jerky is a great option. Coated with a generous amount of cracked black pepper, this jerky has a robust and spicy flavor that will surely satisfy spice enthusiasts. The heat from the pepper complements the savory meat, creating a mouthwatering combination.

For garlic lovers, garlic jerky is a must-try. Infused with the pungent and aromatic flavors of fresh garlic, this jerky packs a flavor punch. The garlic enhances the natural meat flavors, resulting in a jerky that is rich and savory.

Jerky as a Nutritious Snack Option

When it comes to snacking, jerky offers a unique combination of delicious flavor and nutritional benefits. Whether you’re on the go or looking for a protein-rich snack, jerky is a perfect choice. It is packed with protein, which is essential for muscle growth and repair. So, instead of reaching for a bag of chips or a candy bar, grab a bag of jerky for a guilt-free snack that will keep you feeling satisfied.

One of the great things about jerky is that it is low in fat and carbs. This makes it an excellent option for those following a low-fat or low-carb diet. Jerky can help you maintain a healthy weight and support your overall well-being. It is also a good source of essential nutrients like iron and zinc, which play a crucial role in various bodily functions.

“Jerky is a convenient and nutritious snack option that can be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere.”

The Nutritional Benefits of Jerky

Here are some key nutritional benefits of jerky:

  • High in protein: Jerky is an excellent source of lean protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues.
  • Low in fat and carbs: Jerky is a low-fat and low-carb snack, making it a healthier alternative to many other processed snacks.
  • Packed with essential nutrients: Jerky contains important nutrients like iron and zinc, which are necessary for proper body function.
  • Convenient and portable: Jerky is a convenient snack that can be easily taken on the go, making it a great option for busy individuals.

So, whether you’re looking for a post-workout snack or a quick pick-me-up during the day, jerky is a nutritious choice that will satisfy your cravings without compromising your health goals. Just remember to choose jerky with minimal preservatives and sodium content to make the healthiest choice possible.

Conclusion

In conclusion, mastering the art of storing jerky long term is a simple process that ensures you can enjoy this delicious snack whenever the craving strikes. By following a few key steps, you can maintain the freshness of your jerky for up to two years.

To store jerky effectively, it is essential to properly dry it and store it in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags. This prevents moisture and air from entering, keeping the jerky fresh and flavorful. Refrigeration is recommended for long-term storage, further extending its shelf life.

Vacuum sealing is a popular method for preserving jerky, as it removes air and prevents oxidation and moisture from spoiling the snack. It also helps maintain the jerky’s original flavor and texture. Whether you’re a fan of commercial jerky or prefer the customized flavors of homemade jerky, vacuum sealing is a great option.

Choosing high-quality jerky and exploring different flavor varieties can add excitement to your jerky experience. From classic teriyaki to spicy peppered options, there’s a flavor for everyone. Additionally, jerky is not only delicious but also a nutritious snack. Packed with protein and low in fat and carbs, it offers a satisfying and wholesome option for energy and muscle recovery.

FAQ

How long does beef jerky last when stored properly?

Beef jerky can last up to two years when stored correctly in an airtight container or ziploc bag in a cool, dry place.

What is the difference between the shelf life and expiration date of jerky?

Jerky does not have an expiration date like perishable foods. It has a best-by date, which indicates how long it will maintain its quality.

What cuts of meat are best for making jerky?

Lean cuts of meat like top round or bottom round for beef jerky, lean brisket flat for elk jerky, and lean breast meat for poultry jerky.

What are the steps to make homemade beef jerky?

Trim the meat of any visible fat, slice it into thin strips, marinate it for at least 6 hours, and then dehydrate it in an oven, smoker, or dehydrator.

What are the different methods for dehydrating jerky?

The oven method, smoking method, and dehydrator method are popular ways to dehydrate jerky.

How do I know if jerky is done?

Jerky is done when it is fully dried but still retains some chewiness. The color should be dark and leathery, but not brittle.

How should jerky be stored to maintain its freshness?

Jerky should be stored in an airtight container or vacuum-sealed bag to prevent moisture and air from entering. Refrigeration is recommended for long-term storage.

How can I prevent jerky from spoiling?

Controlling moisture and temperature is key. Properly drying jerky, using airtight containers, and refrigeration can help prevent spoilage.

What are the benefits of vacuum sealing jerky?

Vacuum-sealing jerky helps preserve freshness, prevent spoilage, and maintain flavor and texture.

What is the difference between commercial and homemade jerky?

Commercial jerky has a longer shelf life of up to two years, while homemade jerky should be eaten within two months. Homemade jerky can be made with high-quality ingredients and customized flavors.

How can I choose high-quality jerky?

Look for jerky made with high-quality ingredients, properly packaged in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags, and check for signs of spoilage.

What flavor varieties are available for jerky?

Jerky comes in various flavors such as teriyaki, peppered, garlic, and BBQ. Different spice blends and marinades create unique flavor profiles.

Is jerky a nutritious snack option?

Yes, jerky is a protein-rich snack and can be low in fat and carbs. It also contains essential nutrients like iron and zinc.

How can I store jerky long-term?

By properly drying and storing jerky in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags, refrigeration, and following best practices for freshness and spoilage prevention.

How should I summarize the guide to storing jerky long term?

By mastering the art of storing jerky long term, you can enjoy this savory and nutritious snack whenever the craving strikes.