Does Beef Jerky Go Bad: The Surprising Answer

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Hello, once more! Just recently, I received several messages in my box which pertains to a particular question. Does beef jerky go bad? Well, if you think about it, the answer is pretty given already. No food is meant to last a lifetime. Even for dried goods like jerkies will spoil eventually.

Therefore, the answer to that query is a yes. A beef jerky will go bad after a given period. All of the food and ingredients you know are also subject to such natural deterioration of quality.

However, the most important question here is the general or expected lifespan of a beef jerky. How long until the deliciousness of the jerky will be gone? Are there any methods to further prolong its quality? I will answer all of these questions in this article. So read on!

Does Beef Jerky Go Bad

It is definite that a beef jerky will spoil eventually. However, it will take a lot of time. This is the main reason why many people (e.g. survivalists, hikers, and hunters) love this food because it stays edible even for an extended period.

The long lifespan of a jerky is due to some reasons. First, the drying process removes the internal liquid of the meat. Therefore, you can expect that spoil-causing molds and bacteria won’t proliferate.

Second, the meat used in jerkies are usually lean. Without the presence of fats, these delicacies last really long! Third, you are using salt as part of your seasoning. This latter is a natural preservative!

After preparing a beef jerky, make sure that you store it in an air-sealed bag or container. In this way, you will prevent the external detriments from spoiling your food. Of course, I am expecting that a home-made jerky doesn’t contain any artificial preservatives at all. But with this simple packing method, you will be able to extend the life of your jerky naturally.

Meanwhile, those jerky that you bought from your local stores and market have an estimated lifespan of one to two years. They have special additives that preserve their quality.

On the flip side, your home-made jerky is expected to have a shorter lifespan compared to its commercial counterpart. Specifically, the lifespan is just around three months. However, such duration is already good enough.

Fortunately, you can further extend the jerky’s lifespan by freezing it constantly. If you do this method, the jerky will last for another month. Take note. I am still referring to homemade beef jerkies here.

How to Know if the Beef Jerky is Already Bad

You don’t need to become a gourmet before you can tell the difference between an edible and spoiled jerky. There are several indicators that you can observe to see if a particular jerky is still safe for consumption.

But first, let me emphasize first the importance of the proper food preparation. Specifically, the purpose of the latter is to lessen the chances of foodborne sickness.

On a separate article I made for choosing the best meat cuts for beef jerky, I mentioned that right selection of ingredients could enhance the quality of the food. Moreover, it is also a good way to prevent the jerky from quickly spoiling.

How to tell if the jerky is bad already? Well, you just have to observe its texture and color simply. A fresh beef jerky has a bright reddish (or brown) color. Furthermore, its texture should be flexible that it would break when you bend it. On the other hand, a jerky that is losing its quality is noticeably dark and hard.

Also, a rotten jerky releases a pungent or undesirable smell. It would certainly kill your appetite if your nose had an encounter with it. If any of these indicators are present, then I recommend that you should just throw the jerky away. Do not attempt to eat it anymore or food spoiling and other illnesses might inflict you. Of course, nobody likes a quick trip to the hospital!

What happens if you eat expired beef jerky?

Eating spoiled beef jerky can be really nasty and can lead toa trip to the hospital. Expired meat can harbor all kinds of nasty bacteria. During the unfortunate event that you have eaten expired beef jerky, you can potentially get food poisoning, salmonella, or E. coli. Fortunately, spoiled beef jerky tastes so bad that once you put it in your mouth, you’ll immediately spit it out.

How to Store a Beef Jerky

The most suitable way of storing a beef jerky is by using a vacuum sealed container. Specifically, you should store the latter in a cold and dark storage (e.g. your pantry). As long that your jerky is far from any heat sources, the jerky would stay fine until such period.

Of course, I suggest that you will do this all the time. Aside from making the jerky safe to eat, the proper storage can eventually reduce waste. Food waste is not good for the environment. Moreover, it is not beneficial to your pocket either.


How long does beef jerky last after opening?

Depending on how you store it, commercial beef jerky and homemade beef jerky have different expiration periods. If you only store it in the pantry, commercially made beef jerky can last one to two weeks after opening. But you should always check the label to be sure. Homemade beef jerky can only last up to a week after opening its container.

Should beef jerky be refrigerated?

It depends on your preference. Some experts say that refrigerating beef jerky alters its taste. But if you want to extend its shelf life, especially if it’s homemade beef jerky, then refrigerating it is generally a good idea.

How to tell if beef jerky has gone bad?

There are several easy signs you can look out for to tell if your beef jerky has gone bad. First is its color. Fresh beef jerky is red or brown in color. If it’s any other color than that, then the beef jerky has gone bad. Fresh beef jerky will also break in two if you when bent and spoiled ones won’t. Lastly, a telltale sign that beef jerky has gone bad is its pungent and undesirable smell.

For how long is homemade beef jerky safe to eat?

Homemade beef jerky will last considerably less time than commercially made once. When left in an airtight container, homemade beef jerky can last up to three months if sealed and up to a week once opened.

Why doesn’t beef jerky need to be refrigerated?

As long as you properly store beef jerky in a cool and dark place, you won’t have a need to refrigerate your beef jerky. To ensure that it doesn’t spoil earlier, make sure to keep it in an airtight container. However, if you want to prolong the shelf life of your beef jerky, refrigerating it is a good option.


A beef jerky goes bad after three months if it is homemade. For the commercial ones, they last one to two years, depending the preservatives being used. For now, you should already realize that no food will last a lifetime. Therefore, you should know how to tell the current lifespan of your kitchen ingredients before eating them!

Again, I have to remind you that you should find the best and freshest ingredients whenever you are making a beef jerky. Aside from being healthy, they also guarantee that they would be tastier than you expected them to be!

Did you learn from this article? If you want to discover more tips and resources regarding jerkies, then you should subscribe to my blog! It is just a click away!

Do you have any questions, comments, and suggestions? Then ask me! I really love to hear from you!

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