The ideal way to store beef jerky is an air-tight container saved in a cool, dry place such as a pantry or kitchen cabinet.
Beef jerky, as a fully-cooked, shelf-stable food, is very durable and can withstand most conditions. But to maintain peak flavor and freshness, it’s important to store beef jerky properly. The optimal conditions to store beef jerky are dry, cool, and free from direct sunlight.
Here are a few things to keep in mind to make beef jerky last.
1. Store your beef jerky in an air-tight container.
Oxygen is the enemy of fresh beef jerky. Minimizing contact with air will improve the shelf life and freshness of the jerky. It will also remove any variables in the environment that the jerky might come into contact with such as humidity, heat, and other gases.
For Unopened Packages
The original packaging is your best bet when it comes to commercial beef jerky. During the packaging process in a commercial facility, nearly all of the oxygen is removed from the inside of the package. That little white packet in the bag? That’s an oxygen absorber which scavenges and removes all free oxygen from the bag.
One of the main differences between commercial jerky and homemade jerky is the packaging quality. Commercial jerky lasts longer because of the quality of packaging. Commercial jerky is also made to specific dryness parameters that will ensure shelf life.
For Opened Packages
Once a package is open, it’s even more important to keep the jerky away from air. Most jerky bags will come with a resealable enclosure. This makes things easy. If the package does not come with a zipper, we recommend transferring the jerky to a ziplock bag. Don’t forget to remove as much air as possible.
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. Keep your air-tight container of beef jerky at ambient temperature.
Temperature can also negatively affect beef jerky. High heat can cause condensation within the bag of jerky, both opened and unopened, which can cause mold. It’s not just heat, though. Fluctuations in temperature, from hot to cold and cold to hot, can also negatively impact the jerky. These rapid changes can negatively impact the taste, texture, and color.
Are you worried about mold? Read our Guide to Mold on Beef Jerky.
Ideal temperature conditions for beef jerky storage are between 40°F and 75°F. Sustained time above or below these temperatures can have negative effects on the texture and freshness of the jerky. The ideal storage location, when it comes to temperature, is a pantry or kitchen drawer.
If you’re trying to store your beef jerky for longer, you can freeze your beef jerky. Freezing is a great option to keep jerky longer than one year, but keep in mind, the jerky will lose texture, flavor, and freshness once frozen.
Learn more about Freezing Beef Jerky.
3. Keep your beef jerky out of the sun.
Beef jerky does not like direct sunlight, especially for a long period of time.
First, sunlight causes heat damage. The increased temperature of being in the sun can cause mold on a beef jerky. Secondly, the sunlight can denature the jerky causing it to lose color and freshness. A little exposure to the sun is not a problem, but extended time in direct sunlight will damage the jerky.
Storing Beef Jerky in Mason Jars
Mason jars are a great way to preserve a variety of foods from pickles, jams, jellies, and grains. It’s not ideal, however, for beef jerky. It’s difficult to remove all of the oxygen from a mason jar. The air that occupies the space around the jerky can cause the jerky to lose freshness and flavor.
Mason jars are a creative and fun way to serve beef jerky. When it comes to storing beef jerky, stick to plastic bags and other containers that can remove more oxygen.
Beef jerky is a very durable snack food. It’s the reason pioneers, cowboys, outdoor enthusiasts, and busy moms have enjoyed it for centuries. By following the three easy steps above, you can maximize the peak freshness of your beef jerky.
Looking for a new beef jerky?
We bring the old school to the new school. Our jerky is handcrafted in a family tradition that spans four generations and 90+ years in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. A tradition built on quality ingredients and a handmade process that delivers a better-quality, better-tasting, better-for-you jerky. This is not gas station junk food. This is not a trendy snack concocted for product benefits instead of flavor. This is real food, made by real people. Small batch, artisan-quality beef jerky delivered direct to your door.