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Is Beef Jerky a Good Survival Food? (How to Store It)

When it comes to survival foods, besides taste, there are a few keys that people look for. These include how light/portable it is, what preparations are needed to consume it, how much space it takes up, and how long it can be stored.

Beef jerky is a really good survival food. It’s portable, easy to consume, and can be stored for long periods of time. Besides being delicious, the best aspect is that it does not require cooking or any additional items to consume. It’s also a great source of protein and vitamin B12.

The best beef jerky for long-term storage is commercially prepared and sealed bulk jerky, like this kind found on Amazon, which can last for up to a couple of years.

Beef jerky has been a favorite food for thousands of years, dating back to Ancient Egypt. Raw or cooked meat quickly goes bad, but jerky stays good for much longer, and it retains its original levels of proteins and fats. So it has been a survival favorite since it was first created! Let’s go into more detail on what makes jerky such a good choice for your kit or stockpile.

Beef Jerky in a Container

What Is the Best Beef Jerky for Long-Term Storage?

The best beef jerky for long-term storage is commercially prepared and sealed beef jerky. The best-by date is usually about two years, but it can remain safe to eat for much longer. The most cost-effective way to buy it is in bulk.

Beef Jerky Shelf Life

The shelf life of beef jerky depends on whether you’re storing commercially prepared jerky or homemade jerky.

Unopened, commercially prepared, and packaged beef jerky can last for 1 to 2 years if stored properly away from light and heat. Homemade jerky can generally last for up to a year in the freezer if thoroughly dried, in a dehydrator, for example, and sealed in an airtight container.

Related 7 Cheapest Places To Buy Freeze-Dried Foods.

How to Store Beef Jerky for the Long Term

If you’re storing commercially prepared and packaged beef jerky, you should leave it in its original packaging and store it in a cool, dark place. Pantries or root cellars are often good places to store jerky.

Be sure to keep it away from the stove, sunlight, or other heat sources. Heat or direct sunlight can allow for condensation inside the bag, which could ultimately result in mold. If you happen to notice droplets of water inside your jerky bag, take the jerky out, dry it, and re-store it using one of the homemade jerky storage methods below. This will reduce the shelf life of your jerky, but it’s better than your jerky getting mold on it.

If you’re storing homemade beef jerky, you should make sure your jerky is good and dry, using paper towels to dry it, and then place it in vacuum packaging in the freezer. While vacuum packaging works best, freezer bags or other sealable bags, or a jar or sealable container, like this one found on Amazon, will also work.

Additional tips for storing homemade jerky include storing the jerky in a paper bag for a couple of days prior to storing it to help eliminate moisture and adding food-grade oxygen absorbers (Amazon Link) to your storage bag or container.

Because not everyone has a ton of extra storage space for survival items, space is a factor. And if you must travel with survival food, this is another reason you want it to take as little space as possible, be lightweight, and easy to consume. Preferably you won’t have to cook it or require any other utensils or additional items to consume it. If it’s “grab and go,” it’s pretty much perfect!

How Long Does Beef Jerky Last In the Freezer?

Homemade jerky generally lasts approximately one year in the freezer if properly dried and stored. The drier the jerky is, the longer it will usually last. The key to long-lasting jerky is that it does not have the same moisture that raw or cooked meat has.

Related How to Make Fish Jerky at Home or in the Wild | 4 Step Guide.

How Much Beef Jerky Should I Store for a Year?

Because we don’t know when we might need our survival food, we need to rotate perishable items out as they reach the end of their shelf life. One of these items is beef jerky. You’ll need to rotate it out a few months before it goes bad so that you have time to eat it instead of it going to waste.

There is no defined amount of jerky you should store for a year, and it could vary from person to person. If you have a good mixture of foods to keep you afloat, you may need less jerky than someone else who will primarily depend on it.

Also, some people store enough food to last them a few days, while others store enough to last them a few months. So your mileage will vary on how much jerky you should store depending on your personal needs and your survival plan.

How Much Should I Store for More Typical Short-Term Emergencies?

Many experts say you need a minimum of 72 hours of food and water per person, but that range could go up to 30 days or even several months.

How Long Can a Person Survive on Beef Jerky Alone?

No studies have been done to conclusively tell us how long a person can survive on beef jerky alone, and while you may be able to live on it for some time, it’s not recommended that you eat only beef jerky for extended periods of time.

While it’s a great resource for protein and a few calories, you can become sick and invite various health issues from lack of consuming any other necessary nutrients and vitamins. You can also get sick if you eat too much protein.

Nutritional Value of Beef Jerky: A Survival Food Powerhouse

Beef jerky is often celebrated not only for its long shelf life and convenience but also for its substantial nutritional benefits, making it an excellent choice for survival situations. High in protein, beef jerky provides essential amino acids necessary for muscle repair and body function. A single serving can offer a significant portion of your daily protein needs, crucial for maintaining muscle mass during physically demanding situations.

Additionally, beef jerky is a good source of vitamin B12, vital for nerve function and blood formation. It also contains minerals such as zinc, which supports immune health, and iron, which is crucial for oxygen transport in the blood. However, it’s important to consider that beef jerky can be high in sodium, which may require moderation in consumption, especially in situations where water supply is limited.

The fat content in beef jerky can vary depending on the cut of meat used and the preparation method. Typically, the fats found in beef jerky are a mix of saturated and monounsaturated fats. These fats provide long-lasting energy, which can be beneficial in survival scenarios where sustained energy output is necessary.

Incorporating beef jerky into a survival diet offers not only a tasty and satisfying meal option but also a compact source of critical nutrients that support overall health and physical endurance.

According to

“Beef jerky is an easy, on-the-go snack that packs high protein, zinc, and iron concentrations. Those nutrients are essential for overall health. 

Consuming beef jerky in moderation is key since processed and red meats can increase the risk of health complications. Beef jerky often has high sodium content to preserve the meat. Excess sodium may lead to bloating and weight gain. “


Other Reasons to Include Jerky in Your Survival Kit or Stockpile

Beef jerky checks all of the boxes when it comes to being the perfect survival food. The ONLY reason it’s not THE perfect survival food is that it lacks other vitamins and nutrients that you need to survive long-term. But for the short term, it is a definite winner!

Another benefit of having beef jerky as part of your survival kit is in the tough texture requires you to chew for an extended period in order to consume it. This can provide a mental and physical stimulant to minimize your overall hunger over the short term. As you know, mental strength is the most important skill to have in a survival situation.

Beef Jerky Versus Other Survival Foods

Below is a table that compares beef jerky with other common survival foods in terms of nutritional content, cost, and storage needs. This comparison will help in evaluating which food items might best meet your needs in a survival situation.

Food ItemNutritional BenefitsCost (Per Serving)Shelf LifeStorage Requirements
Beef JerkyHigh protein, vitamin B12, zinc, ironModerate1-2 yearsCool, dry place; original packaging
Canned BeansHigh protein, fiber, ironLow2-5 yearsCool, dry place; watch for rust
Freeze-Dried MealsBalanced nutrients; varies by meal typeHigh25+ yearsCool, dry place; sealed tightly
RiceHigh carbs, some protein, low fatLow30+ years (white rice)Cool, dry, airtight containers
Canned TunaHigh protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin DModerate2-5 yearsCool, dry place; watch for bulging
Powdered MilkCalcium, vitamin D, proteinModerate15-20 yearsCool, dry place; airtight container
GranolaCarbs, protein, fats, dietary fiberModerate6 months to 1 yearCool, dry place; airtight container
Nuts and SeedsHealthy fats, protein, fiberHigh1-4 yearsCool, dry place; airtight container

Key Insights:

  • Beef Jerky is excellent for protein and important minerals, making it a great grab-and-go option with reasonable cost and moderate shelf life.
  • Canned Beans provide great nutritional value and are cost-effective but have weight considerations due to their packaging.
  • Freeze-Dried Meals offer the longest shelf life and are great for balanced nutrients, but they can be costly and require water for preparation.
  • Rice, particularly white rice, offers a long shelf life and low cost, making it a staple in many emergency food storages.
  • Canned Tuna is another protein-rich food with the added benefit of omega-3 fatty acids, though it also requires proper storage to prevent spoilage.
  • Powdered Milk offers a long shelf life and is a good source of calcium and vitamin D, essential for children and adults alike.
  • Granola is a nutritious, calorie-dense option but typically has a shorter shelf life than other dry goods.
  • Nuts and Seeds provide long-lasting energy and health benefits but are relatively expensive and have a shorter shelf life compared to other dry goods.

Each of these survival foods has its strengths and weaknesses, and your choice may depend on specific needs such as dietary restrictions, storage space, and budget.

Final Thoughts

Jerky is one of my favorite foods, whether in a survival situation or not. I simply can’t help grabbing it in the convenience store after gassing up. There’s nothing better than munching on it while getting in some windshield time and listening to my favorite apocalyptic fiction, currently Adrian’s Undead Diary, by the way.

Overall, beef jerky is definitely something you should add to your survival pantry, it’s a tasty food that’s portable, easily stored, and long-lasting. So get chewing!

Ready-Made for Storage

Also, if you are in the market for pre-packaged long-term survival food, I recommend My Patriot Supply. They have some of the best prices and best-tasting food available for those getting prepared.

Related Questions

Is too much beef jerky bad for you? While beef jerky does have a lot of protein and is fairly calories rich, you would not want to make it your main staple. This is because it is high in saturated fat, which can contribute to heart disease or diabetes. Even so, in a survival situation, beef jerky makes an excellent primary protein source over the short to mid-term.

Is beef jerky raw meat? Beef jerky is not raw. It is usually cooked by being smoked or baked at low temperatures in the sun or in a low-heat oven. This removes most of the moisture and wards off bacteria. The addition of salt also contributes to the preservation process.

Thanks for stoppin’ by!

For more, don’t miss The 5 Best Cheapest Places To Buy MREs.