Jerky is one of the ultimate naturally-preserved snacks. The salt in jerky will prevent it from spoiling for considerable lengths at a time even if it is exposed to open air. However, the longer jerky is permitted to sit in open air, the quicker it stales. On the other hand, jerky exposed to moisture spoils more quickly than that which is kept dry. While rock hard jerky is generally still edible, it is difficult to chew. Spoiled jerky, however, is unsafe. As such, even though the salt in jerky preserves it for a few days or a week, there are both temporary solutions and long-term solutions for keeping jerky moist and safe for an extended period of time.


There are three long-term methods of store jerky and keeping it fresh. There are a few other means of keeping jerky fresh temporarily, but only for a week or two.



Temporary Solutions

Plastic Bags - The tighter the seal and the less air in the bag, the longer your jerky will stay fresh. Plastic bags with a sealing seam keep perishables fresh longest and rolling the bags up tightly before sealing them is the best means of removing the air. Another method of removing the air is sealing all but a small portion of the seam, sucking the air out, and sealing the remainder of the seam before air leaks back into the bag.



Plastic Wrap - If tightly wrapped in plastic wrap, jerky will remain fresh for several weeks. Jerky wrapped in plastic wrap and preserved in a seam lock plastic bag will last even longer.



Paper Bags - A means of transporting jerky, paper bags do less than nothing to preserve it. The wood micro-particles in a paper bag absorb the moisture in jerky and dry it out as quickly as evaporation.



Long Term Solutions

Dry Canning - Though the process takes time, dry canning jerky in mason jars keeps jerky fresh for up to a year. The flavor of dry canned jerky is preserved better than jerky stored using any other method because neither air nor moisture is removed during the process. However, the fact that both remains limits the amount of time dry canning will keep jerky fresh and edible. If you have the time, though, dry canning is the preservation method of choice.


Vacuum Seal Bags - This is the most convenient and one of the safest method of preserving jerky. By removing the air from the bag, the vacuum seal process allows you to save the jerky longer than almost any other process with the exception of lyophilisation. Vacuum seal bags are lightweight and the space required to transport jerky in vacuum seal bags is minimal.



Freeze Drying - This is an extremely long term solution. Lyophilisation removes both the air and moisture from the jerky which means the jerked meat will last almost indefinitely. However, freeze dried jerky requires re-humidification once the jerky is un-packaged. People who want to take long trips with perishable foods and reduce the weight of the food by eliminating the water content, freeze drying is an option.