Why Risk Packaged Dog Jerky When You Can Make It Yourself - Easily!
Nearly every day another pet food company is recalling its jerky treats for dogs; there are so many recalls of treats made in China, and even some supposedly made in the U.S., that I have aligned myself with the make-it-yourself crowd. I buy and use the same ingredients for my dog as I do for myself from the same grocers.
If your dog loves his chicken or beef jerky, her dried yam or sweet potato treats and her peanut butter biscuits, they can all be made simply and quickly by you, at home, with the Nesco American Harvest FD-61 Snackmaster Encore Dehydrator and the Nesco BJX-5 American Harvest Jumbo Jerky Works Kit.
Now there are several models of Nesco dehydrators; Nesco is a dependable, moderately priced brand. I like the Nesco American Harvest FD-61 Snackmaster Encore Dehydrator model because it dries jerky evenly in a matter of a few hours and it has an adjustable thermostat so you can dry many different kinds of foods. It is also expandable to 12 layers if you want to do larger batches at a time.
Chicken Jerky Recipe
Here's a great recipe for chicken jerky that I've adapted from an online post called 5 Healthy, Homemade Dog Treat Recipes. The original recipe calls for:
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders, sliced into strips about 1/4 to 1/8 inch thick
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon salt
Dog-friendly seasonings, such as parsley, rosemary, and sage
I use chicken breasts, as I find the 'tenders' too fragile to work with. I use skinless, deboned breasts. Also, I use one-half teaspoon Kosher salt to cut the sodium content, canola oil, and my dog likes the flavors of thyme and cilantro, but you can use a variety of spices, preferably home-grown.
Rinse chicken breasts well with water and pat dry. Place in freezer for 10-15 minutes and remove to slice. Slice chicken in thin strips - about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick - with the grain. Lay chicken strips out on paper towels and season with spice mix on both sides. Place strips evenly apart on dehydrator trays and turn on dehydrator to 140°.
My chicken strips usually take about 4 hours, but depending on your dehydrator, it may take less or more time. You will want to check their doneness every half hour after about 2 hours to see how fast they are getting done. Simply take a strip out and cut it in half; there should be no moisture at all in the strip (very important). The first few times you make the chicken jerky, sample pieces from different trays to see if the dehydrator is heating thoroughly.
Once your dog's treats are finished, let them cool, and let him enjoy a few. Then store them in air-tight bags in the refrigerator.
(There are four other great recipes for dehydrated dog treats on this post: 5 Healthy, Homemade Dog Treat Recipes.)
Jerky Maker For Ground Meats
You can make jerky with sliced beef or venison, but if you are using any ground meats or fowl, you should avail yourself of a reasonably priced special tool - The Nesco BJX-5 American Harvest Jumbo Jerky Works Kit, which can work with about a pound of lean ground meat, and consists of three shape-makers (jerky strips, sticks. and double strips). It includes five original flavor jerky spice-and-cure packs for human consumption. For dog jerky, use spices similar to those in the above chicken jerky recipe. You will marvel at the fresh taste of this jerky - and so will your pooch! That's the buzz for today!