Can Beef Jerky Mold: Mold, Fat or Salt?

Jerky is one of the most favorite snacks of people. And there are many reasons behind it. First of all, jerky comes in a variety of flavors. Secondly, it is healthy. And the most important reason is, it does not need to be preserved or refrigerated.

Most people finish a bag of jerky in one sitting. So they do not have to worry about the expiry date. But for people who need longer to finish a bag of jerky, they might worry about how long you can snake it before it gets mold.

Now the question is jerky doesn’t need refrigeration, does that mean it has infinite shelf life? Of course not. Yes, jerky can mold. But  how much time do we have before that? What can we do to make it last longer?

If you are a jerky fan like most of us, read the full article and find out the  answers to the most asked questions about beef jerky.

What is Jerky?

Meatloaf is cut into lean  pieces and then tried with extra salt.  This particular food is called Jerky. This process is maintained to extend the shelf life of the meat. The target is to preserve the product by drawing the moisture out and then salting to protect the attack of bacteria.

Meat contains fat. While making the jerky, the lean layers of meat also have some fats. Natural fat solidifies after a while or when kept at a low temperature. This also happens in the case of jerky. But this is not mold. If the white spots bothers you, simply wipe it  off.

Shelf Life of Jerky

When we buy jerky from the market or online. The packet comes with a ‘best by’ date. It shows the ideal time frame. That means the jerky is in its freshest condition within that time. Normally this time is 1 year.

Now this written time indicates the time frame before opening the packet. After opening the package you can enjoy the fresh jerky for 1 to 2 weeks in the pantry. If you keep it in the refrigerator then the time becomes 3 to 4 weeks.

If the jerky is  preserved using  extra preservatives, then they will last longer. And they will be less affected by air and moisture.

On the other hand, homemade jerky’s shelf life is shorter than the one we buy from the market. This shelf life depends on the packaging procedure. For example, in the case of vacuum sealed packages, you get one to two months in the pantry.

You get a bit longer if stored in the refrigerator. Otherwise it will last for 1 to 2 weeks in the pantry and one month in the refrigerator.

Identifying Expired Jerky

The first and foremost thing  for identification of jerky is the smell.  Assume a situation where you found a bag of beef jerky you forgot about . The first thing you should do is to take a sniff. If the jerky has gone bad you’ll definitely get the smell of rotten meat.

Now comes the visual identification. Visual cues are not as obvious as the smell.  Symptoms of expiration of Jerky will appear very late. Like if the jerky is to the level of having mold on it. But expired jerky does not always get mold.

Another thing is,  when a jerky is near to expiration, the color of the meat will get darker than the normal color. The meat might also become harder.

To summarize, it’s better not to consume beef jerky that has either an off smell , mold or show any other signs of rancidity. In some cases, there remains slightly more fat in beef jerky. The extra fat is the reason behind going rancid.

Mold, Fat or Salt?

The white spots on the surface of jerky are not  always mold.  It could be  salt for fat also. If that is the case, then the jerky is perfectly fine to consume. But you should not eat the jerky if there is any sign of mold.

Now let us see why jerky might have mold on it. The main reason behind this is the presence of moisture in the meat of the jerky.

The meat of jerky is dried up to the point where 90% to 95% of the moisture is removed. If that is not done, there will be extra moisture in the meat which will later grow moles.

A jerky which has gone bad can grow bacteria on it. Injection of a good amount of bad Jerky can make you ill. But that is really rare. You are not very likely to get sick from eating bad jerky. Because you will find out the situation of the jerky from the smell before eating.

Meat contains mineral salts. The salts are soluble in the oils of the meat. When we dry meat, the moisture evaporates. But the salts do not evaporate with the  moisture. So they are left behind. This confirms the white spot on the jerky. This is nothing to worry about.

All kinds of molds are not harmful. Some of them are safe to eat, for example blue cheese. But generally molds are not safe. So it’s better to throw away moldy food like jerky.

Extending the Shelf Life of Jerky

We already know that jerky does not need refrigeration. But  if you are looking for a longer  shelf life for your jerky, then you can  store it in the freezer.  There will be no moisture in the freezer. And the low temperature will let no bacteria contaminate your Jerky.

The next thing you can do to store your jerky longer is to use a drying agent. You can also use desiccants to reduce moisture. You can make a small oxygen absorber packet.  This will help to control  any small amount of moisture left in a packet.

Now how can you make an oxygen absorber packet? You have to make small bags of thin clothes with rice in it. Then put this bag around your jerky. In this way your jerk will remain dryer.

If you’re making jerky at home, then during the process of cutting make sure to cut all the fats. The fat particles are the one thing that ruins your jerky. The more perfectly you cut of all the fats, the longer your jerky will stay.

Post Condition of Eating Spoiled Jerky

If you mistakenly eat rotten jerky, you probably are going to face the condition of eating  rotten meat.  The  obvious outcome is food poisoning. The symptoms can be  headaches, abdominal pain, fever, nausea and Gastrointestinal problems. Rotten jerky can have bacteria on them, which can make you severely ill.

It is very rare to get sick from eating rotten jerky. Because you need a good amount of rotten meat to make you sick. And before putting the rotten meat in your mouth, you are going to have  the smell.  The weird smell should be enough to prevent you from eating rotten jerky. Even if you put it in your mouth. you’re going to get a strange taste which is not normal. Spit it out quickly and you are supposed to be fine.

Crockett Creek

Most jerky fans suffer from one problem. They cannot find a proper place to collect fresh jerky. You might also wonder  where you can have fresh jerky. Crockett Creek is a place that promises to supply fresh jerky.

People say that at Crockett Creek, jerkies are not loaded with preservatives. They pay more importance in cutting the meat in lean  pieces. They are also said to have the best drying and packaging practices.

There the jerkies are made by hand to ensure high quality.  They are famous for their collection of flavors.


Will I die from eating moldy beef jerky?

No, of course not. Eating moldy jerky means eating rotten meat. It is one of the worst things to consume. If you have a good immune system, you might not feel any change. You will digest it like any other foods. Otherwise you may  experience vomiting or nausea.

Will I get sick from eating old beef jerky?

If you eat rotten meat you are probably going to get sick. The surface of the meat accumulates fats after a while. These fat particles are a very good place for the growth of bacteria. So if you consume old beef jerky, you have a very good possibility to get food poisoning.

What will happen if I eat moldy beef?

This depends on the health immune system you have. But surely nothing grave is going to happen. You might get sick and have the consequences of having rotten meat. The most probable consequence is food poisoning.

The symptoms you might experience are headache, vomiting tendency, nausea, abdominal pain etc. Nothing more than this is supposed to happen. If you have a good immune system, you might just digest it like any other food.