How Long Does Beef Jerky Last After Opening? (Plus Storage Tips)

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Wondering how long does beef jerky last after opening? Here’s everything you need to know about shelf life, storing, and more!

Isn’t beef jerky the best?! My husband and I love it. My kids love it too!

But not only is it delicious, it’s full of protein. Basically, it’s just amazing!

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We love to take it hiking, camping, and backpacking with us. It’s the perfect snack!

Any time I see beef jerky, I buy a lot. Like A LOT. I love having tons of beef jerky on hand.

One of the reasons I like to have it on hand, is that I’m big into food storage and being prepared. I always want to have food for my family to eat!

At the beginning of the year 2020, many of the shelves in our local grocery stores were empty. It really freaked me out. Ever since then, I’ve been working on building up my food storage.

I’ve watched hundreds and hundreds of videos and read many articles about food storage. And beef jerky is one of the best things you can store!

But what happens if you buy too much beef jerky and you’re worried you can’t eat it within a year? How long does beef jerky actually last? Does it go bad? What’s the best way to store it?

Don’t worry, I’ll answer all of the questions you have about beef jerky!

Beef jerky in a white bowl on a wood table.

How Is Beef Jerky Made?

So, let’s start at the beginning. Beef jerky is just beef that’s been salted and dehydrated. People have been dehydrating meat for hundreds of years.

Dehydrated meat helped farmers survive the winter. First, they would hunt or raise their meat. Then, they’d kill and process the meat. Next, they’d slice and dry it to make beef jerky. This way they’d have meat to eat all winter when other resources were scarce.

People have been dehydrating meat for so long because it works. I’m sure it will be around for many years to come.

Shelf Life Of Beef Jerky

Because of the way beef jerky is made, it has a very long shelf life. It will last much longer than most perishable foods. It is PERFECT for food storage, because it lasts so long!

Most commercial beef jerky packages are airtight. They are also vacuum sealed to get all of the moisture out of the package. They also keep an oxygen absorber in the package to keep even more air out of the package.

They say it is best-by one year from when it’s made. Manufacturers also recommend eating within three days of opening it.

Unopened beef jerky will be safe to eat much longer than one year though. It will last a very long time on your shelves. Unopened jerky should actually last indefinitely until you eat it. The fact that it won’t go bad is just mind blowing to me!

You should eat beef jerky within one week of opening it. We’ve eaten it a few weeks after opening it, and it still tasted great.

There are a few brands that make beef jerky that’s more moist. That jerky will last three days after it is opened.

How To Store Beef Jerky

Here are the best tips to store beef jerky!

  1. Keep it in a cool place. It’s best to keep in a room that is cooler than normal room temperature.
  2. Make sure it is in a dry place and there’s no moisture in it. Moisture can cause bacterial growth.
  3. Keep it in a dark room. Keep it out of direct sunlight.
  4. Don’t change the packaging after you buy it, because you want to keep air away from it. Oxygen will help it spoil.
  5. Don’t freeze it– you don’t need to! It could also give it freezer burn.
  6. Buy the best brand and from good stores.

Homemade Beef Jerky

Commercial beef jerky is amazing! My husband and I both love it.

But unlike commercial beef jerky, homemade beef jerky won’t last as long as it will. It needs to be eaten about 1-2 months after you make it. Keep homemade jerky in an airtight container for best results.

It’s still completely safe to make and eat, but it just won’t last as long as beef jerky you buy from the grocery store.

Beef jerky in an airtight container on a wood table.

How To Make Homemade Beef Jerky

In just a few steps, you can make your very own beef jerky!

The first step to making beef jerky is to cut your beef. You can use top round, London broil, flank steak, sirloin tip, top sirloin, round roast, rump roast, or bottom round beef to make beef jerky.

Whichever cut you use, make sure it’s lean meat. Use a cutting machine or a knife and carefully cut your beef into thin strips.

Next, marinate your beef. This is personal preference. You can use whichever marinade you’d like. A common one is ground black pepper, salt, brown sugar, red pepper flakes, garlic and onion powder, paprika, soy sauce, and liquid smoke. Marinate it for at least 30 minutes up to a day.

Third, lay out the beef. You can lay it onto stainless steel screens. If you don’t have those, feel free to use something else. Make sure each piece of beef is evenly spaced and not layered on top of another piece.

Fourth, cook the beef. Make sure you cook it at a slowly at a low temperature. The beef needs to get to 160 degrees internally. It will take 2-8 hours to cook. You can also use a dehydrator.

Fifth, dry the beef. Make sure it is completely dry during the drying process so it will be shelf stable.

Lastly, package your beef jerky. If you have a vacuum sealer, use it and put it in a vacuum-sealed package to keep all of the air out.

Now you’ll have amazing homemade beef jerky!

Does Beef Jerky Go Bad?

Does beef jerky actually go bad? Are you ready for some amazing news?! Get this-because beef jerky been cooked the right way, dehydrated, and stored correctly it will not go bad! Isn’t that amazing?!

If it’s not packaged or dehydrated correctly, it can grow mold and spoil. The great thing is it’s easy to tell if beef jerky has gone bad.

There are a few brands of store-bought jerky that make more moist jerky. On the jerky package, it usually says it will last three days after it’s opened. Other than that, beef jerky will last forever until it’s eaten.

Because beef jerky doesn’t go bad, it’s perfect for hiking, backpacking, camping, going on vacation, and anything else you’d want it for. It truly is the perfect snack!

6 Steps To Tell If Beef Jerky Is Still Safe To Eat

It’s a good idea to make sure there are no signs of spoilage before you eat it! Here are some steps to make sure jerky is still safe to eat.

  1. The first thing you should do is always check the best-by date for commercial jerky. It can still be good for much longer than the date though.
  2. Second, look at the package. Is there any damage on it? It there a hole or rip? Also, look at the jerky itself. Are there any white spots or mold on it?
  3. The next thing to do is to smell it. Does it smell like normal beef jerky? Does it smell weird? If it does, don’t eat it. If the jerky smells like normal, move on to the next step.
  4. Then, touch it. How does it feel? Does it feel like normal beef jerky?
  5. If you do these five steps and everything looks okay, it should be safe to eat.
  6. You can always call a professional to make sure it’s safe to eat.

Just remember, when it doubt, throw it out! You don’t want to eat rotten meat.

What Happens If The Meat You Eat Was Bad?

Here are some symptoms you can have it you ate bad meat.

  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Upset Stomach
  • Stomach Cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Dehydration
  • Bloody Stools

Doesn’t that sound awful?! If you have any of these after eating questionable meat, call your medial provider.

Dark beef jerky in a white bowl with a white background.

The Bottom Line

People have been making dehydrated meat and beef jerky for centuries! And there’s a good reason why.

Beef jerky that has been dehydrated, packaged, and stored correctly will last forever. It’s high in protein, healthy, and delicious.

Always check to see if it looks good before you eat it. If it looks questionable in any way, don’t eat it.

You can make homemade beef jerky too in a few easy steps.

Beef jerky is one of the best things you can have in your food storage. Beef jerky lasts forever, it’s delicious, and it’s healthy. Talk about a triple threat!

FAQs

How can you tell if beef jerky has gone bad?

It’s easy to tell if beef jerky has gone bad. If there is mold on the jerky or if it looks bad, smells bad, or feels bad, don’t eat it!

You could get a fever, nausea, upset stomach, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dehydration, or have bloody stools if you eat bad meat.

Doesn’t that sound miserable?! If you’re concerned, definitely don’t eat it.

Does beef jerky go bad?

No, beef jerky does not go bad. Isn’t that so cool?! As long as beef jerky has been dehydrated, packaged, and stored correctly, it will last forever!

If it hasn’t been packaged, stored, or dehydrated correctly, it can spoil. You could get a fever, nausea, upset stomach, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, dehydration, or have bloody stools if you eat bad meat. So just be careful!

How long is Jack Link’s beef jerky good for after opening?

Any commercial beef jerky will have about one year until the best-by date. However, beef jerky is good indefinitely. It will not go bad as long as it has been dehydrated, packaged, and stored correctly. That’s why it doesn’t have an expiration date!

As long as it looks, smells, and feels good, it should be safe to eat! Keep it in an air-tight container. A ziplock bag would even work!

How long is jerky good for in the fridge?

After you open commercial beef jerky, you should eat it within three days of opening it. That’s what most companies recommend.

Beef jerky can last much longer than that as long as it’s stored, packaged, and dehydrated correctly.

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