Unopened beef jerky does not require refrigeration. Once a package has been opened, however, the humidity level that the jerky identify if refrigeration is required. Jerky v a high moisture level is not shelf-stable once exposed to oxygen and also requires refrigeration. This jerky will have a “Refrigerate after Opening” explain on the package. Any jerky there is no this statement is 100% shelf-stable after ~ opening and does not call for refrigeration.

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Why doesn"t unopened beef jerky have to be refrigerated?


The an enig is in the dehydration. 

During the cooking and drying process, moisture is removed from the meat. This renders beef jerky lightweight, nutrient dense, and shelf stable. The term shelf stable way that the product go not need refrigeration and also can be safely stored in ~ room temperature in a sealed container.

From a scientific perspective. Different species of enzymes—bacterial, fungal, or naturally occuring in the meat—require water to survive and replicate ~ above food. V the removal of moisture, this enzymes room unable to grow and contaminate the food, thus preserving the food.

So why does some jerky require refrigeration after opening?


The introduction of modern-day food packaging—specifically, vacuum sealing, nitrogen flushing, and also oxygen absorber—allows jerky machines to produce a format of jerky the contains more moisture. The oxygen cost-free environment that the packaging prevents any potential concerns that come follow me with extr water activity. This changes, however, as soon as the package has actually been opened and exposed to the approximately air. In ~ this point, due to the level of moisture, it have to be refrigerated.

The an excellent news is that any type of packaging that calls for refrigeration will certainly be plainly labelled. If the jerky package does not have any kind of language roughly refrigeration, it does not require cool storage and also can it is in stored in the ambient temperature. 

How to save beef jerky once opened?


Whether you need to refrigerate her jerky or no (depending on the moisture), there space a few general advice to store your beef jerky for peak freshness.

1. Store your jerky in a cool, however not cold place.

Even if her jerky does not call for refrigeration, it’s crucial to store your jerky in a cool place. The pantry or cabinet are an excellent places to save jerky.

2. Store air far from your jerky.

It’s crucial to minimize the exposure the oxygen to the jerky v an airtight container. This will keep the jerky fresher because that longer.

3. Prevent the sign and bright light.

Bright light and also especially sunlight have the right to accelerate oxidation and also denaturation the the jerky.

What about homemade jerky?

Our conversation has concentrated primarily on store-bought jerky. Homemade jerky is various from commercial jerky in both the processing and the packaging. That is recommended to keep homemade jerky in the refrigerator indigenous the beginning. As a general ascendancy of thumb, homemade jerky will last in between 1-2 months in the refrigerator.

Bottom Line


Dehydration is among the world’s oldest and most common methods of keeping food. Dry was a method to save food because that future consumption in pre-refrigeration days. Native the ancient Egyptians to indigenous Americans, jerky has been delighted in for centuries. Timeless jerky is dried to together a level that it does not call for refrigeration or special packaging.

The shelf stability of beef jerky has actually made that a favorite snack the backpackers, campers, and outdoor sporting activities enthusiasts alike. Unopened jerky needs no refrigeration, lasts a long time, and also boasts nutritional density.

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Once a package has actually been opened, make certain to inspect for any kind of statements that show “refrigerate after ~ opening.” If you view this statement, and also the package has been left there is no refrigeration for more than 3 days, we recommend throwing it out. If you unsure if your beef jerky is still for sure to eat, examine out our guide Does Beef Jerky go Bad. 

We craft a traditional jerky that is dried come a level the does not need refrigeration. We believe this is true, really jerky.