Does Venison Jerky Need To Be Refrigerated?

Who doesn’t love a good, chewy, flavorful jerky? I know I sure do.

Homemade venison jerky can be one of the most delicious and convenient snacks out there. But does venison jerky need to be refrigerated?

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Does Venison Jerky Need To Be Refrigerated?

If venison jerky is dried effectively, it does not need to be refrigerated. However, some prefer to leave a trivial amount of moisture so that it affects the flavor and texture. If you are leaving moisture in your venison jerky, it is recommended that you refrigerate it if not consumed within a week.

There is quite a bit of difference between store-bought venison jerky and homemade, so storing methods will vary.

As you will see, these differences can greatly affect how long it can stay on the shelf.

Venison Jerky on a dehydrator rack

How Long Does Venison Jerky Last?

Venison jerky can have a varied shelf life depending on how it was made. As mentioned, some people like leaving moisture in their jerky to add texture.

If dried properly, you can safely leave jerky out for about a month. Upon refrigeration, this increases the life of the jerky for up to six months.

Again, this all has to do with the proper amount of removing moisture from the jerky.

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Tips for Storing Venison Jerky

If you have just finished making venison jerky or have purchased some at a store, there are a few options to consider when storing it.

Unopened store-bought venison will last longer, usually having a “best by” date and a sealed package. 

Keep in mind that best-by dates are simply a guideline for enjoying it at its freshest, not necessarily that it will go bad by then.

Here are a few options to help store your venison jerky:

  • Use airtight containers such as mason jars or vacuum-sealed bags
  • Using standard zip-locking bags help, but only up to a few weeks in the fridge
  • Keep storage temperature consistent
  • Avoid leaving bags or jars of venison jerky in direct sunlight
  • If you are not sure, then it is best to simply store it in the refrigerator
  • Freezing jerky helps tremendously preserve its shelf life

Can You Freeze Venison Jerky?

Freezing venison jerky is a huge help if you are preparing it in bulk and are unable to eat all of it within a few weeks.

If you need to freeze it, then you can safely store it for about a year for the best results.

If you choose to freeze it, you should do your best to remove all the air from the packaging. It is best if you are vacuum-sealing it.

Does Refrigerating or Freezing Jerky Hurt It?

If you choose to refrigerate or freeze your venison jerky to preserve its shelf life, both are great options for that cause.

Properly storing it for either method is key to keeping the flavor and texture intact.

If you go over the recommended storage times, such as over one year for freezing venison jerky, then you risk losing flavors, change in texture, and even color can be different.

Remember to write down your own “best by” date to ensure the timeframe of your homemade venison jerky.