When it comes to the perfect salty, meaty snack, you can’t go far wrong with a strip of beef jerky. The dried-out meaty flavor is a great accompaniment to a cold beer on a hot summer’s day. It is one of America’s most popular rest stop counter snacks.
However, you might enjoy jerky every once in a while, but maybe you aren’t a massive meat eater. Beef jerky often comes in a hefty packet, and you might not feel much like dehydrating yourself by going through a whole packet in one sitting.
Also, you might have bought in bulk to save on money. Now you have a lot of jerky with nowhere to store it.
One thing that you might have entertained, perhaps it’s the very thought that brought you here, is one that is so outlandish that you might be afraid to ask your friends in case they think you a prize fool: can you freeze jerky?
Well, don’t worry, it’s a legitimate question. Jerky is made from beef, and no matter how salted and dried out it is, it can still go bad like any other meat.
So how long can you store jerky in the freezer? Can freezing jerky affect its composition in a way that might make you ill? Are there any other safe ways of storing jerky?
Well, if you love your salted beef and want to ensure that it lasts as long as possible, then you’ll want to read our article about this much-savored product, what properties it has and how long it will last inside or outside of your freezer.
How To Store Jerky
Traditionally, this lean meat is already dried to extend the amount of time you can keep it on the shelf. It is not just beef, you can also get the more appropriately named turkey jerky.
The preservation process involved in making jerky usually involves drawing out the moisture and adding salt. These two things reduce the level of oxygen and water that the meat is exposed to, therefore reducing the bacteria that can accumulate on it.
However, this doesn’t mean you can open your jerky and then leave it at room temperature for months on end.
With jerky bought from the store, it usually comes in a vacuum-sealed container, again, reducing the risk of contamination and exposure to bacteria. If the vacuum seal remains unbroken, you can keep it in your cupboard at room temperature for over a week.
But what if you have pulled the seal on your jerky and are worried about it going bad within the next few days? Well, that’s where your freezer comes in handy.
How To Freeze Jerky
If your jerky is left unopened, you can store it in the fridge for upwards of 1 or 2 months without any rotting or discoloration. Freezing your unopened jerky in the fridge will extend its shelf life by about 7 to 12 months, at least!
However, it is worth noting that refrigeration or freezing certainly won’t damage your jerky, it will still affect the flavor and texture of your salted meats.
There is also an unusual phenomenon where your meat can absorb the other flavors inside the fridge. This is why packaging is very important when it comes to storing jerky.
When it comes to freezing jerky opened in the packet, we recommend wrapping each strip in cling film and then placing them in an airtight container. This will reduce the risk of contamination and exposure to the air.
Do not freeze one big batch of jerky at a time, as this will result in your having to defrost and refreeze your jerky over and over again, which will reduce the quality of its flavor and texture. Freeze in batches that you think will be enough to consume in one sitting.
How To Freeze Unopened Jerky
Freezing unopened packs of jerky is a lot easier than when they have been opened. But it is worth paying attention to these very specific set of instructions, so make sure you have a pen and paper ready:
Take the unopened packet and put it straight in the freezer
That’s right, that’s all you have to do!
However, freezing opened packets does require a little bit more preparation, removing it from its original packaging and replacing it into freezer-friendly resealable bags with all the air taken out.
If you can use an electric vacuum sealer on your jerky before freezing, then that would be a preferable means of removing all the air. This will also ensure the preservation of as much of the jerky’s flavor and texture as possible.
Once your jerky is completely sealed, put it in the freezer and store it for up to 12 months.
How To Freeze Homemade Jerky
If you’ve made the bold leap of making your own jerky at home, then the first step to ensuring that it does not wilt or lose its unique home-cooked flavor is by making sure that it has completely dried and cooled before you stick it in the freezer.
Even a trace of air or moisture will result in freezer burn.
Once the jerky has cooled and is ready for freezing, simply repeat the process described above. Place the strips into a sealable bag, taking care to remove as much of the air inside as possible.
Remember to label the jerky with the date you froze it before putting it in the freezer, so you can remove it before the taste and texture go stale.
The easiest and safest way to defrost jerky is simply by removing it from the freezer and placing it in the fridge, leaving it to thaw out overnight. If you leave the jerky to thaw at room temperature, then the likelihood of it cultivating nasty bacteria will drastically increase.
Once the jerky has been thawed, you should eat immediately, as it will be more prone to spoil in the warmer temperatures. We recommend against freezing the jerky twice as it will likely lose a lot of its flavor.