There is nothing like making homemade jerky. We love all types of jerky around
here and a significant percentage of our customers are using our products with
their jerky. However, finding mold on your jerky can be disappointing. We often
receive questions regarding mold in jerky and how it may be avoided.
First and foremost, mold in jerky can be caused by many factors but the main culprits are always moisture and oxygen. Ultimately, they will contribute to bacterial growth and cause your jerky to spoil.
Jerky will mold if not enough moisture has been removed from
the meat during the drying process; therefore, it should have around 90% to 95% of the
moisture in the meat removed during drying. If
it doesn't, the moisture still in the meat will cause mold spores to grow. If
the jerky is dried almost completely, mold usually will not grow.
We often get asked whether to use a desiccant or an oxygen absorber with jerky. The answer is always a little tricky because it depends on the moisture you wish to retain in your jerky and how long you plan on storing it for.
Storing jerky for short term, anywhere between 1 to 3 months, will require an air tight container such as a stand-up pouch, Mylar bag or mason jar. Depending on the consistency you wish to retain adding a food-grade desiccant will allow your jerky to maintain a constant level of moisture. Desiccants buffer the moisture in the packaging, which could help preservation by limiting the concentration of water. A desiccant will also remain effective without having to use hermetically sealed packaging. You often see this type of packaging with store bought jerky.
If you plan on storing your jerky for long term, vacuum sealing it in vacuum bags will allow you to keep the moisture in and the air out. Include an oxygen absorber to maintain the freshness and consistency of your jerky, and to prevent oxygen from spoiling your jerky. You can preserve your jerky for well over 12 months!
Also, mold seems to grow or develop quicker in a high moisture environment. So, the refrigerator is not a good place to store jerky, unless it is vacuum packed. But since jerky is dried meat, it is not necessary to store it refrigerated anyway.
Please keep in mind that according to
a study published by the American Medical Association, E.Coli can survive drying
times of up to 10 hours and temperatures of up to 145 degrees F. It is
recommended that venison being dried for jerky should be precooked to an
internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F. Hunters and other consumers
need to understand that wild game should be handled and cooked with the same
caution recommended for other meats.
Click Here for more information regarding jerky and food safety.