A few snacks have become cornerstones in our snacking experiences, and jerky is one of those snacks. People love the salty and meaty flavor combined with the great chewability that it brings.
In addition, it is convenient and offers some health benefits, especially for people who struggle with iron deficiency. With jerky being such a great snack to have in the house, it makes sense to stock up and buy in bulk, but we might be concerned about whether jerky goes bad.
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Does Jerky Go Bad?
Although jerky has been treated and consequently has a very long shelf life, it is still meat. Therefore it can go bad, and it should never be consumed when it has gone past its best.
Therefore, if you enjoy having jerky, you must know how to tell if your jerky has gone bad so that you can avoid getting ill from eating spoiled meat. In addition, by learning how to store your jerky, you will enjoy your fresh and flavorful jerky for much longer.
How Long Does Jerky Last?
A few of us make the mistake of believing that since the meat that jerky has been made with has been treated that it can never go bad. The fact is that all meat products can go bad, and consuming any spoiled meat product can have severe health consequences.
Jerky that is still in its original packaging and sealed can last for a long time, even up to a year. However, when it comes to meat products, it is best to stick to the best by date printed on the package or container.
So if your sealed jerky has gone past its best by date and you want to eat it, be sure to check carefully if it is still edible, and if you have any doubts, rather don’t eat it. If you made your own jerky, it is best to eat it within a month. However, if your homemade jerky is made of very fatty beef, it is recommended that you eat it within two weeks.
If you opened a bag of jerky and you plan on consuming it within a few days, it is acceptable to keep it in your pantry. However, if you tend to eat your jerky slowly and take more than a week, it is better to keep it in the fridge. It is best to finish all of it in less than three weeks.
How Long Does Jerky Last?
|In the pantry||In the fridge||In the freezer|
|Unopened jerky||1 year||1 to 2 years||1 to 2 years|
|Opened jerky||1 week||3 weeks||3 months|
|Homemade jerky||2 weeks||4 weeks||8 weeks|
4 Tips to Tell if Jerky has Gone Bad
Jerky has become more popular as time passes, with more and more people beginning to make their own jerky at home. However, whether your jerky is store bought or homemade, you need to be aware of its freshness.
Meat products should be consumed with care since eating them after they have gone bad can make you very ill. Jerky is no exception to this rule because although jerky is meat that has been treated, it is still meat, and it can still make you very sick.
Therefore, knowing how to tell if your jerky has gone bad is a great and crucial skill to have. Here are a few tips that can help you tell if your jerky is safe for consumption:
Look at your jerky closely
By examining your jerky, you might see some signs that your jerky has become inedible. For example, if you notice any organic growth of mold on your jerky, you should not eat it. In addition, if your jerky has any discoloration, it is best not to eat it. Lastly, if your jerky seems overly fatty or sweaty, it is best to avoid it.
Smell your jerky
Jerky has a wonderful meaty aroma that people love. However, jerky that has gone past its best will have a rotten or unpleasant smell. Therefore, if you notice that your jerky smells bad, you should most definitely not eat it.
Touch the jerky
Jerky feels firm when you touch it. You shouldn’t eat the jerky if you notice that your jerky has become overly soft or soggy. Also, if your jerky feels very sweaty, you should not consume it. Alternatively, if your jerky has become rock solid, it is a sign that it has dried out, and it would be best if you didn’t eat it. You won’t enjoy it anyway.
Taste the jerky
Here it is important to note that if you feel that your jerky might be bad, you shouldn’t taste it at all. However, if you have looked at your jerky, smelled it, and touched it, and it seems to be okay, you can taste a small part to see if it tastes fresh.
Fresh jerky has a great meaty flavor with spice infusions that make it such a wonderful treat. However, jerky that has gone bad will taste sour or unpleasant. So if you took a bite of some of your jerky and it doesn’t taste good, don’t eat anymore of it.
3 Tips to Store Jerky
When it comes to proper storage, you can postpone the shelf life of your jerky by a considerable amount just by storing it correctly. There are three options for keeping your jerky: the pantry, the fridge, and the freezer.
Of course, the best place for storing your jerky depends on whether it has been opened yet or not. If your jerky is store bought and still sealed, you can keep it in your pantry, fridge, or freezer. It will last more than a year in all of these places.
Keeping your jerky in your pantry
If your jerky is still sealed, keeping it in the pantry is acceptable. However, it is best to keep it in a cool spot without receiving direct sunlight or being exposed to heat sources. Once you have opened your jerky, it is best to keep it in the fridge unless you will finish it within a few days.
If you keep your opened jerky in your pantry for longer than a week, it will not be fresh anymore, and it could be a health risk if you eat it. While storing your jerky in the pantry, make sure it is in an airtight container or original undamaged packaging.
If you have a vacuum sealer, that will be the best for storing your jerky since it keeps moisture and air out. If you have homemade jerky, it is best to keep it in the fridge since that will make it last longer.
Keeping your jerky in your fridge
A fridge is an excellent place for your jerky, whether it is sealed, opened, or homemade. Be sure to place your jerky in an airtight container or ziplock bag after it has been opened. It is best to keep your jerky away from foods with intense flavors like onions to avoid the jerky taking on the taste or aroma of the foods.
Keeping your jerky in your freezer
It is possible to freeze your jerky, and by doing this, you can enjoy fresh-tasting jerky for much longer.
The Risk of Consuming Expired Jerky
Eating jerky that has become spoiled can be very dangerous because of foodborne illnesses. If you ate jerky that has gone past its best, you might experience food poisoning symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramping, a low fever, diarrhea, and a headache.
You must stay hydrated while the symptoms remain so that you don’t run the risk of dehydrating. If you are still uncomfortable after 48 hours of consuming the rotten meat, it is best to see your doctor. In addition, people who suffer from high cholesterol should control their consumption of jerky as it can have adverse effects on their health.
Can You Freeze Jerky?
Yes, you can freeze jerky. In fact, jerky freezes very well since the drying process minimizes the moisture in the meat. If you are freezing a sealed bag of jerky, you can simply freeze it as it is.
However, if you are freezing an opened bag of jerky or homemade jerky, it is best to put it in an airtight container or a ziplock bag to prevent any moisture from contacting your jerky.
If you have a vacuum sealer, that is an even better option since it keeps moisture out. If you have a massive supply of jerky, divide your jerky into small sections and then seal them using your vacuum sealer.
Then you can remove the amount you want without having to thaw the entire batch. If you are ready to consume your jerky, remove it and allow enough time for it to thaw completely.
It is not advised to refreeze jerky that has been defrosted already since it can significantly decrease the quality of your jerky.
Jerky is a great snack to have any time of the day. It is tasty, and if you like a touch of spice, there is jerky available that can be spicy. By knowing how to store your jerky, you won’t have to worry so much about whether your jerky has gone bad.