Can You Freeze Jerky? How?

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Quick Answer: Can You Freeze Jerky?

Yes, you can freeze jerky just fine! The freezing process would almost inevitably introduce certain changes in the texture and flavor of the jerky, but the taste should not be too different from fresh jerky, given that you freeze it properly and carefully following the instructions well. Jerky, therefore, freezes quite well, and can be kept in freezer storage in airtight freezer bags for up to at least four to five months.

This comprehensive guide details step-by-step instructions, among other things you must know in order to freeze jerky successfully and safely at home.

With hours’ worth of research along with time-tested personal experience and expert opinion to back it up, this guide covers everything!

Without further ado, let us get right into the first method!

How to Freeze Jerky

How to Freeze Jerky

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

The advantage of working with store-bought jerky over its homemade counterpart is that the former is usually known to have a significantly longer shelf life in the refrigerator in comparison to the latter. 

However, if you are looking to store your jerky for longer than that time period (always check the manufacturers' instructions and advice regarding the 'use by' and manufacture date), freezing is a considerably safe bet. It is not too complicated a process and quite fail-safe.

Do note, that it is tricky and not usually recommended to freeze store-bought jerky in the packaging or container it came in, as the chances are that the original packaging does not provide your jerky with enough protection during freezing. 

Materials

  • Cling film

Tools

  • Large airtight resealable airtight freezer bag or container

Instructions

    Wrap each jerky piece tightly and securely in cling film – Wrapping individually gives them the essential protection they require in the freezer, and also helps you to take and use only the few you require at a time without having to thaw and then refreeze the rest.

    Pack them in tightly in the airtight freezer bag or container – Packing them in tightly will ensure no space remaining for any excess air.

    As for what you will be packing the jerky in, I would recommend using a rigid, freezer-safe, airtight container over a freezer bag, but in case your freezer does not have the space to accommodate a whole Tupperware, you can use a large freezer bag as well.

    Seal tightly and freeze – Sealing the airtight freezer bag or container is essential in making sure the jerky freeze well. Squeeze out all the excess air from the bag before sealing, and snap the lid tightly on the container. Label and freeze!

Freezing Homemade Jerky

Time Taken: 20-30 minutes 

What You Need:

  • Aluminum foil/plastic wrap
  • Airtight resealable freezer bag

Freezing homemade jerky works quite well as you can prep the ingredients on your own to an extent and make them more suitable for freezing.

This obviously includes making the jerky itself as a part of the method, so if you want a quick refresher on the ingredients and other things you need to remember, you can refer to this video:

Note that because homemade jerky will not have the preservatives that are in a lot of cases added to store-bought jerky, homemade jerky will have a pretty short shelf life. Freezing is your best option for long-term storage.

Prepare your jerky as per recipe

Once baked, make sure the jerky cool down completely before you prep to freeze it. Tossing hot jerky into the freezer will lead to spitting and will ultimately ruin it for good.

Allow the jerky to cool down entirely on a cooling rack.

Wrap the jerky individually tightly in aluminum foil

Once cooled down, your jerky has to be packed in and wrapped individually, very tightly and securely in aluminum foil for them to freeze well. You can also use plastic wrap or cling film.

Make sure no part of its surface is exposed and that it becomes completely airtight and watertight as well.

Pack the wrapped jerky into an airtight resealable freezer bag

Once wrapped securely in aluminum foil, pack the jerky inside an airtight resealable freezer bag or container.

Seal securely and freeze

Make sure you squeeze out any excess air from inside the freezer bag and then seal it securely. Label the bag or container with the storage date, and it is ready to freeze!

Freezing Jerky in Serving Portions

Time Taken: 2-3 hours

What You Need:

  • Cling wrap
  • Airtight freezer bags

I always recommend freezing any food at all in serving portions, because of all the ways it turns out to be so very convenient. 

In case of jerky as well; whether store-bought or homemade, if you freeze well and in portions, you can take, thaw and use only as much as you need at a time without having to touch the rest or get into the whole hassle of re-freezing, which is highly advised against. 

Not only does this save time, effort and energy, it also helps prevent any wastage! I would definitely recommend this method the most, but of course, given you have the extra storage space in your freezer.

Wrap each jerky piece very tightly and carefully in cling wrap

You then need to wrap each piece in cling-wrap, ensuring that they are completely covered so there are no exposed parts that can allow the freshness to escape and moisture to seep in.

Put into airtight resealable freezer bags

Once you have covered each piece, place them according to serving portions into small airtight resealable freezer bags.

Make sure that you squeeze as much air out as possible from the bags before freezing; this will reduce the risk of freezer burns.
Eliminating the risk of freezer burns and ensuring that your jerky is protected entirely while airtight and watertight, is extremely important.

Label and freeze

Label the bags you are freezing the treats in with the storage date, and you pop them into the freezer.

Your jerky is ready to freeze! Now, you can just take a few whenever you need; thaw and eat them up without having to bother the rest!

How to Freeze Flash-Frozen Jerky

Time Taken: 7-8 hours 

What You Need:

  • Aluminum foil/plastic wrap
  • Airtight resealable freezer bag or container
  • Baking tray

Lots of experts recommend flash-freezing the jerky before freezing them. Aside from that the method is quite similar to the ones described before, and can be used in case of both homemade as well as store-bought jerky.

Just in case these different methods are a little confusing to you and you would like a more visual guide, feel free to refer to:

And now, on to the method!

Flash-freeze the jerky in a single layer on a baking tray

If prepared at home, wait until the jerky is cool. Then, arrange them in a single layer with adequate space between each, on a baking tray.

Then, place the baking tray inside the freezer and allow the jerky to flash-freeze for at least four to five hours. You can also leave them to flash-freeze for longer.

The flash-freezing ensures added, utmost protection for your jerky. Once flash-frozen, it should be safe to keep your jerky in the freezer for up to even 6 months.

Wrap the jerky individually tightly in aluminum foil

Once frozen hard, your jerky has to be packed in and wrapped individually, very tightly and securely in aluminum foil.

Make sure no part of its surface is exposed and that it becomes completely airtight and watertight.

Pack the wrapped jerky into an airtight resealable freezer bag

Once wrapped securely in aluminum foil, pack the jerky inside an airtight resealable freezer bag or container.

Seal securely and freeze

Make sure you squeeze out any excess air from inside the freezer bag and then seal it securely. Label the bag or container with the storage date, and it is ready to freeze!

How Long Can You Freeze Jerky?

For best quality, it is recommended that you thaw and eat up your frozen jerky within 5, and at the most, 6 months within storing them in the freezer.

While it is technically possible to keep jerky in freezer storage for up to even a year, it is highly recommended that you use them up as fast as possible.

Despite being able to withstand very low temperatures for extended periods, you don’t want your jerky to undergo too much change.

Remember that the longer you keep your jerky in the freezer, the worse their texture, flavor and taste will eventually get.

So, for optimal results, do try your best to consume and use them up within 4 months, but if not 6 months at the very maximum. Do not keep jerky in the freezer beyond 12 months at any cost.

How to Store Frozen Jerky?

For all the processes and methods prescribed here for freezing jerky, using heavy-duty, airtight, resealable, freezer friendly bags and pouches is a must.

If you are working with containers, please make sure they are freezer-friendly, rigid and airtight, and have tight-fitting lids.

And they need to be sealed really well to ensure your jerky freeze well. A vacuum sealer is actually a great investment for this purpose, especially if you freeze food often. It would help get all the air out.

How to Defrost Frozen Jerky?

Jerky needs to be defrosted in the fridge. The process takes between 20 minutes and even 6 to 8 hours, depending on the amount and thickness of the strips. Just transfer the frozen jerky from the freezer to refrigerator and leave it to thaw overnight.

Small and thin jerky strips do not really require any separate defrosting. To begin with, they do not freeze solid, so it is fine and completely safe to eat them straight from the freezer. They would just be quite cold, that’s all.

Larger and thicker strips, however, would definitely require proper defrosting before you eat them.

Also, note that it is very likely to have some moisture in the bag. It might take the form of frost, if the jerky is still frozen, or it can take the form of water droplets after being defrosted.

This moisture can easily be taken care of with a paper towel, either before or after thawing.

Can You Re-freeze Frozen Jerky?

It is possible to re-freeze jerky, but not always advisable. You can re-freeze jerky as long as it has been thawed properly in the fridge, and not at room temperature.

Additionally, note that it is inevitable that the flavor, texture and even taste of the jerky are likely to undergo significant changes after being frozen and thawed even once. To repeat the process will definitely double the deterioration.

So, if that is something you want to avoid, I would recommend that you avoid re-freezing jerky. Try your best to use it all up the first time around that you thaw it.

Re-freeze only when absolutely necessary, like for example, if you have way too many leftovers.

This is why I always advise freezing in portions. It makes sure you do not have to get into the hassle of refreezing, which you really should ideally avoid.

Does Jerky Freeze Well?

Jerky is known to freeze incredibly well! As mentioned before, it is known to be able to withstand extremely cold temperatures for extended periods of time, and can be kept in freezer storage for up to even 12 months with no severely noticeable changes.

You can rest assured because freezing usually does not alter the flavor of your jerky beyond salvation. However, do note that keeping your jerky in the freezer indefinitely would most definitely ruin them.

As long as you freeze your jerky correctly, following the right methods and instructions carefully, use good quality materials, and eat them up within not more than 5 to 6 months, you should be fine, because jerky freezes beautifully!

FAQs

Can I freeze all kinds of jerky?

Yep, any kind of meat jerky can be frozen just fine using any of the methods described here, as per your circumstances and convenience.

Can I defrost jerky at room temperature?

Yes, you can. Defrosting the smaller, thinner jerky strips and pieces is actually a better way to thaw and consume them! You can leave it to defrost on your counter-top at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Do note that in this case, it is not advised for you to re-freeze the jerky.

Can I freeze different kinds of jerky together?

This is not recommended. I advise that you freeze them in separate freezer-safe containers, or freezer bags, so as to keep their flavors distinct and maintained.

How can I store my jerky in the refrigerator?

When it comes to storing your jerky in the fridge, I advise that you place it in an airtight resealable freezer bag, squeeze out all the air from it and seal it carefully. This will preserve the jerky in the refrigerator for at least a week.

Will jerky freeze longer if it has added preservatives?

Of course. The primary factor deciding whether or not your jerky freezes well, is the number of preservatives added in it.
 
Whether you are storing store-bought jerky that relies on preservatives to stay fresher, longer or nitrate-free craft jerky with no additives, you can store jerky perfectly either way.

Bottom Line

We hope this comprehensive, step-by-step guide covering the best methods to freeze jerky successfully at the safety and ease of your home has helped you!

For any further questions you may have regarding freezing jerky, please do let us know by reaching out to us!

If you have any other tips and tricks you have discovered about freezing jerky, feel free to reach out and let us know; we will add them to this guide so they can help more people!

If this guide has helped you, please do share it with your friends and family so that they can also use it.

References

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About Barbara Foster

Barbara is a traveler who has traveled to more than 25 countries. She loves the variety of food she gets to experience on her trips and maintains detailed journals of her travels which she plans to publish as a book someday. She loves to bake. Her favorite cuisines are Italian, French, and Mexican.

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