I am making jerky for my son's wedding (175 people), and I want it to be perfect. I've made it many times without issues. However, a batch I made late last night was removed from our dehydrating oven by my husband after I went to bed. This morning, it looks to me as if it could have stayed an hour longer. Can I put it back in the oven for a bit without problems? I've eaten a couple of pieces and it tastes ok, but much of it is gleaming with fat that I believe would disappear with a bit more heat. Hoping for some great responses QUICK!
The main concern is that bacteria can start to grow in moist meat. If you first heated the meat up to 160-165F then started drying it, then you're probably in a better situation, but if you didn't pre-heat it, then the question is, does it just have fat on the surface or does it still have water inside it?
Interrupting the drying process for several hours puts the meat in the "danger zone" temperature range longer. If it is thinly sliced and the dehydrator isn't overloaded and it's been in the dehydrator over 10 hours at around 140-145F then according to the USDA recommendations it should be safe. If it was interrupted before that, or if it is thick pieces, or if the temperature is significantly lower, it may not be safe.