If you’re not planning to eat your beef jerky within one year, you can freeze an air-tight package to extend the shelf life an additional 6–12 months. Freezing beef jerky, however, will diminish the sensory qualities of the jerky such as taste, texture, and freshness. Unless you’re storing beef jerky for a period beyond a year, there’s no reason to freeze beef jerky as it can last up to a year in normal storage conditions.
If you do decide to freeze beef jerky, there are a few things to keep in mind.
1. Seal the beef jerky in an air-tight container.
Air is the enemy of jerky preservation, especially in a deep freeze. If you still have your beef jerky in the original packaging from the producer, then you can freeze the bag itself without additional steps. The original packaging is going to be your best bet.
For opened packages of beef jerky, it’s best to transfer the jerky into an air-tight container. Try to remove as much oxygen as possible from the package. Vacuum-sealed packaging is ideal when freezing beef jerky.
Use the zip lock closing trick to remove as much oxygen as possible. Here’s how: seal the bag except for a small amount in the middle. Suck as much air as possible with your mouth and seal the bag quickly. You’ll be amazed with how much air you can remove.
2. Use a freezer-safe container.
Extended time in the freezer can lead to freezer burn. Freezer burn happens when frozen food loses moisture and oxygen takes its place. The results are drier, tougher, and discolored food.
Make sure to use sufficient packaging that will insulate the beef jerky. We recommend wrapping the jerky in aluminum foil, butcher paper, or wax paper, in addition to the plastic bag. The extra layer will prevent the loss of moisture, maintaining the quality of the beef jerky for longer.
3. Label the container with a date for future reference.
Don’t forget to label the container with the date that the beef jerky went into the freezer. This way you can know how long it has been saved. This is especially helpful when you have multiple batches of frozen jerky in the freezer.
4. Never place warm beef jerky directly into the freezer.
Large fluctuations in temperature, especially from warm to cold, can lead to condensation and “sweating.” This causes ice crystals to form on the jerky which results in freezer burn. You’re left with a jerky that is tough and flavorless. Let the beef jerky rest in a cool place or even the refrigerator for a few minutes before freezing.
Defrosting the Beef Jerky
Ready to enjoy your frozen beef jerky? Let the frozen beef jerky rest in ambient temperature to thaw at a slow and steady pass. This can take anywhere between 8-12 hours depending on the thickness of the jerky. Allowing the jerky to thaw at a slow and steady pace will maximize the recovery of flavor and texture. Because it’s fully cooked, you don’t have to worry about the same temperature issues as defrosting raw meat.
Freezing Homemade Beef Jerky
The recommendation on freezing beef jerky is the same for commercial beef jerky and homemade beef jerky. Freezing might make more sense for homemade beef jerky if you have large quantities that you won’t be able to consume within a month or two.
Freezing beef jerky is a viable option when trying to preserve jerky beyond a year. Make sure to only freeze room-temperature beef jerky in an air-tight container that has been insulated. This will make sure that the beef jerky is at maximum freshness and flavor when you’re ready to defrost and enjoy.
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We’ve been handcrafting beef jerky for over 90+ years and four generations, so we know a thing or two about beef jerky. Browse our artisan jerky products and pick up some today. We guarantee you’ll love it.