Jerky is simply dried meat. It is lightweight and made from different kinds of meat like venison, pork, even turkey. It is mostly the go-to food for hikers because of how long it can last when kept under dry and temperate conditions.
Jerky is dehydrated, seasoned meat that has been salted to take away more moisture. So the very minute amount of water present in jerky makes it last longer than any other kind of meat.
So, you decide to try out this jerky everyone has been talking about. You walk into a convenience store and see that they are on a sale. You decided to make the most of the situation and buy a lot.
You may also decide to look through cookbooks or recipes online and make your jerky. Well, your jerky is ready and you have had a taste. It is sumptuous and heavenly but, you’re not much of a meat-eater.
All the eating has worked your jaws and you can’t take anymore. You look at what is left and you’re not sure about it lasting for long. If you decide to refrigerate it, it would last for a few weeks but that’s all. You wonder if you could freeze it but you don’t know how. Then this article is for you.
Can you freeze jerky? Yes, you can. You can freeze jerky and prolong its shelf life to about 7 to 12 months. The little amount of water present in the jerky makes it hard for bacteria to grow and spoil the meat. However, freezing jerky can slightly affect its texture or flavor. This happens when the jerky has been kept for too long in the freezer.
All these risks could be minimized to almost nothing if your jerky is properly packaged.
If you have a large batch of jerky for future consumption, it is safer to store and freeze in small amounts. This would help preserve the quality and flavor of the jerky.
How to Freeze Jerky
There is no special skill set needed for you to be able to freeze. All you need is a good set of airtight freezer bags or containers and you are good to go. If you are freezing store-bought unopened packs of jerky, just stick them into the freezer and it is all good. But if it’s already opened, or you want to preserve your homemade jerky, here’s how to:
Bagging and Storage
Enzymes and bacteria are the basic cause of rot in food items. Depriving the bacteria of air and placing the food item under very low temperatures is the key to cold storage preservation.
If you want to freeze an already opened pack of jerky. If it doesn’t come in a resalable pack, remove the jerky and put it in an airtight freezer bag or container. You can also wrap it in aluminum foil if you do not have airtight bags. But, make sure the jerky is properly wrapped.
If you are freezing homemade jerky, make sure the jerky has been properly dried and cooled down to room temperature before freezing. If the jerky is still warm or hot, it would condense after you have wrapped it or sealed it. This can lead to increased moisture that will affect the jerky, causing mold and ruining the flavor and taste. It would go on to render the meat inedible.
Once all these conditions are met, the jerky is ready for freezing. Place the jerky in small quantities into airtight freezer bags or containers. Lastly, get a marker and mark the date of storage and the jerky, and indicate the contents.
How to Thaw Frozen Jerky
Thawing frozen jerky is a delicate job. Do not leave your jerky to thaw under room temperature as this increases the growth rate of the bacteria present in the jerky. Instead, put the frozen jerky into a container and leave it in the fridge to thaw overnight.
Once jerky has been thawed, it is ready to eat. Do not attempt to refreeze frozen jerky as this affects the taste and flavor of the jerky further. Eat your thawed jerky right away to minimize the risk of spoilage.
How to Know If Jerky Has Gone Bad
Commercially packaged jerky lasts for about 12 months. However, jerky can go bad if not properly stored. The shelf life of store-bought jerky can depend on the preservatives added to the product. When opened and stored under room temperature, it can last for about 1-2 weeks in your pantry.
How do you know if your jerky is still good to eat? The first sign of a jerky gone bad is the presence of mold growing on the surface of the jerky. Another sign of a jerky gone bad is if the jerky has become mighty hard, or has developed an odd smell. If you notice all of this in your stored jerky, it is advisable to discard it.
The color and texture of your jerky can indicate gradual degradation but it does not necessarily mean spoilage. But if you have already kept your jerky for longer than you are supposed to and you notice these signs, you should dispose of it.