With all the fear and danger surrounding pet treats made in China, homemade dog treats have become more and more popular and homemade dehydrated dog treats are becoming the rage among dog owners concerned about their dog’s health and safety.
Food dehydrators have become more and more affordable and can also be used to make healthy treats for the entire family!
They are simple ways to make healthy dehydrated fruits and vegetables, including potato chip alternatives for all of us who love snacking.
While it’s possible to dehydrate food in the oven, it’s much easier to use a dehydrator. Another bonus is you know exactly what is in your treats virtually ensuring their safety and you can control the tasty seasonings! (We hear you can also make yogurt in a dehydrator — wouldn’t your dog love that!)
To get you started, here are two recipes for the most popular dog treats out there – dehydrated chicken and sweet potato treats:
Dehydrated Chicken Treats
1/2-pound boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Choose your dog-friendly seasonings: parsley, rosemary, sage, etc. (preferably fresh and chopped very fine)
Rinse the chicken breasts and remove fat (slows down the dehydrating process and will shorten the jerky’s shelf life).
Slice the chicken into strips about 1/4- to 1/8-inch thick (slicing with the grain will make the jerky chewier).
Coat the strips with oil and seasonings.
Place strips on the dehydrator tray, space them evenly (make sure they don’t touch). The drying process depends on adequate airflow between the strips.
Put the tray in the dehydrator, turn it on and set the temperature for 140 degrees.
It takes between 3 and 12 hours for the strips to fully dry, depending on how thick you cut them and the exact temperature of the dehydrator. After the first hour, begin checking the strips hourly. Check for dryness by removing one strip from the dehydrator and after cutting into it with a sharp knife, examine the inside-when the meat is completely dried, you won’t see any moisture and it will be the same color throughout. If it needs more time, put it back in for another hour. As it gets closer to being finished, check every half hour.
After it’s finished, let cool and store it in air-tight containers (good quality zip-lock bags are excellent). Refrigerate for a longer shelf life.
Sweet Potato Chews
Wash and peel sweet potatoes. Slice the sweet potato into 1/4- inch slices by cutting down the middle lengthwise.
Dehydrate at the highest setting 145-155 until done. Drying 6-8 hours will leave them with a chewy texture-you may dry longer for a crunchier treat.
Before you start, make sure you have a very sharp knife and plenty of time to complete the drying process. Partially frozen meat is easier to slice, and the thinner the slices, the less time they take to dry.
To make these in the oven, set the oven at 200 degrees, follow the instructions above checking the treats after two hours, then every hour, and finally every half hour until done. They will take approximately 6 hours to dry.