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.
Is beef jerky a good survival food? 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.
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.
What Is the Best Beef Jerky for Long Term Storage?
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.
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 the long-lasting jerky is that it does not have the same moisture that raw or cooked meat has.
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 1-2 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. It may not last quite as long if it’s not in an airtight container.
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 a good place 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 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 to help eliminate moisture and adding food-grade oxygen absorbers 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 Much Beef Jerky Should I Store for a Year?
Because we don’t know when we might need our survival food, you 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.
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.
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!
Here are a few storage-related Amazon products that you may find helpful:
If you want to save some money and potentially lengthen the shelf life, store it yourself. You will need a few things to do this.
- A Dehydrator– If you decide to make your own jerky.
- 5-Gallon Gasket Sealed Plastic Buckets– The perfect size for my long-term storage needs.
- 5-Gallon Mylar Storage Bags– Fill these bags, seal, then put in the bucket for ultra long-term storage.
- Mylar Heat Sealer– Bag sealing option #1.
- Large Vacuum Sealed Bags– For a vacuum-sealed alternative.
- Portion-Sized Mylar Bags (Ziplockable)
- Vacuum Sealer– Bag sealing option #2.
- Airtight Storage Containers– For short or mid-term use.
- Oxygen Absorbers– These help keep the moisture content down.
- Storage Labels– Logging the date and contents is important.
Check out my article on Storing Rice and Beans for the Long Term, which covers a sound methodology that can apply to almost any dry food. I also wrote an article on making fish jerky. The process is similar to that of making beef jerky.
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.
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 a low heat oven. This removes most of the moisture and wards off bacteria. The addition of salt also contributes to the preservation process.
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