Does Beef Jerky Need to Be Refrigerated?

Store-Bought Jerky

The reason why beef jerky is one of the favorite snacks of campers and backpackers is because, in a lot of cases, the product does not need to be refrigerated.

But you have to remember that certain types of beef jerky would have to be stored in the refrigerator to prevent the growth of bacteria. This includes homemade snacks and store-bought meat that indicates ‘refrigerate after opening’.

Why do some types of beef jerky need to be refrigerated and for how long can they be stored in the fridge? Let’s dive deeper into the topic.

Does Beef Jerky Need to Be Refrigerated?

The main thing that you would have to take into consideration is whether the jerky is homemade or store-bought.

Store-Bought Jerky

If you have bought the beef jerky from the store and it came in a sealed package, then you wouldn’t have to refrigerate the meat.

That is because all moisture has been removed from the beef during the cooking and drying process. The dehydration is exactly what makes the jerky shelf-stable as various bacteria need moisture, in order to survive and replicate.

However, you might have to place the meat in the refrigerator once you have opened the package. If the style of jerky that you have bought contains some moisture, then the manufacturer would point out on the label that the meat has to be refrigerated after opening (otherwise, the product might become a breeding ground for bacteria once you let some oxygen in the package).

If the opened jerky does not require refrigeration, then you can safely store the meat outside of the fridge. Just make sure that you’re keeping it out of direct sunlight and, ideally, in a dry and cool place (such as your kitchen drawer or pantry).

Homemade Jerky

When it comes to homemade beef jerky, storing it in the fridge is usually recommended. As the preparation of the meat did not include such processes as dehydration, nitrogen flushing, and vacuum sealing, there might be enough moisture present in the beef for the bacteria to start multiplying.

Your homemade snack can last for up to 2 months in the fridge, and you can rest assured that it’s completely safe to consume.

Homemade Jerky

How to Store Beef Jerky

The ideal temperature range for beef jerky storage is between 40 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything lower or higher than that will affect the freshness and the texture of the product. So, even though the snack can be kept in the freezer for over a year, the meat won’t taste as good as the product that has been stored in the fridge.

In the Fridge

Homemade jerky can be stored in a clean and dry airtight container inside the fridge or in a ziplock bag. If you opt for the latter option, try to remove as much air as possible from the bag before sealing it. You can do that by sucking the air out of the bag with your mouth and then closing it.

The commercial jerky that needs to be refrigerated can be kept in its original package inside the refrigerator if the package has a resealable enclosure. If not, you can always put the snack in an airtight container or a ziplock bag.

Outside the Fridge

Keep the beef jerky out of the sun and in a place with a stable temperature (temperature fluctuations can negatively impact the taste and texture).

By the way, even homemade beef jerky that has been properly dried can be stored outside the fridge if you put it in an airtight container and in a dry and cool place. In such a case, your snack might last for up to 2 weeks.

Can Beef Jerky Go Bad?

Homemade jerky can definitely go bad as the meat will get affected by moisture and oxygen. Even if you store the jerky in an airtight container, it might still develop mold as there is plenty of moisture left in the meat.

When it comes to commercially produced beef jerky, it usually has a ‘best before’ date, not an ‘expiration’ date. This means that, in theory, if the package has not been opened (and oxygen has not been introduced into it), you might be able to enjoy the snack even in a few years. That is, of course, if the product has been produced, packaged, and stored properly.

If the package has been damaged and the ‘best before’ date is approaching or if you have noticed that the beef has developed mold and a nasty smell, then it would be better to throw it away.

There are other articles on our website that are similar to this one, as well as the one you are reading at the moment like Do Beans Need To Be Refrigerated While Soaking?Storing Chocolate Covered Strawberries and Does Chocolate Covered Strawberries Need To Be Refrigerated?

You might also want to get rid of the beef jerky that has been opened 3 days ago but hasn’t been placed in the fridge (even though there was such an indication on the package).

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