We once posted about dehydrating treats using an oven, and have been using that method up until someone blessed us with a Rommelsbacher dehydrator she no longer needed. Ever since then, we have been trying all sorts of items from meat to organs to fish! As we weren’t able to find many posts about dehydrating dog treats, we decided to do one for those about to venture into the world of dehydrating! 🙂
Although the items I tinkered with were mainly for Cotton, the same concept applies for human edibles!
What is dehydrating all about?
In layman terms, dehydrating works by removing the water content in food by heating at a low temperature. This inhibits the growth of microorganisms including bacteria, while concurrently retaining the rawness of meat as it is not fully cooked. This is thus a plus for those who believe in raw diet (humans and dogs) or want treats that can be stored at room temperature for a relatively long period.
Do take note however, that fats cannot be dehydrated, and will cause whatever you have dehydrated to spoil easily. Hence, try to choose lean cuts of meat to ensure maximum storage life, such as chicken breast or London broil.
Meat (e.g. Chicken Breast, Pork Loin, London Broil)
The thinner you cut, the shorter dehydrating time needed, and the longer the treats can last – Hence, needless to say, the meat we dehydrate is often as thin as possible. It will also break apart more easily for training!
You will firstly want to freeze your meat for roughly 20mins to aid in cutting. This is an optional step but it really helps in slicing as the chicken becomes firmer.
Then, slice the chicken breast (meat of your choice) into thin strips. I’m not the most skilled person in the kitchen, hence I just roughly sliced them up to about 0.3cm thickness.
If you are able to slice them extremely thinly, or at a size you are comfortable with, skip this part. I usually take this meat tenderiser hammer and hammer my way till they become as thin as probably 3 sheets of paper.
Next, place them onto your dehydrator. Do note its essential to get a dehydrator with BPA-free trays especially as the food comes in direct contact with the plastic for a long time.
Our chicken jerky took roughly 5hours to completely dehydrate. The longer you place them in, the dryer they will become. (They should not burn at all) Also, 700g of chicken breast became 150g after dehydrating 😛
You can try any kind of meat you would like, just choose meat as lean as possible!
Organs (Lungs, kidney, tripe, heart, liver, spleen)
Organs have got to be my favourite to dehydrate, despite the fact they STINK. I mean, they don’t particular stink much in my opinion in the house while dehydrating, contrary to what many others say, but they are vomit inducing 10cm from your face on the chopping board. Lungs and heart don’t really smell like much, but kidney literally smells like pee (which does make sense since they process what becomes your pee).
A mini life hack – use chicken liver if you really have an aversion to touching them. They are small enough that you can just line them on your dehydrating tray, ready to go!
Firstly, you will also want to freeze the organ of your choice for about 15-30mins.
Then, slice them into thin strips.
Line them up neatly on your dehydrator without any pieces touching.
I would advise blotting them dry with a paper towel to lessen dehydrating time and prevent a gunk like bloody residue from being left behind on your tray.
Kidney, heart and liver took around 8 hours, while lungs took close to 10 hours.
350g of lungs rendered us around 170g of dehydrated lamb lungs!
Being from Singapore where organs are readily eaten, these were honestly easy to find. However, it was rather hard to find lamb organs but thankfully managed to chance upon a market uncle who sold me the entire upper abdomen organs (Lamb heart, trachea, both lungs and liver) at a steal of S$14!
Fruits and Vegetables (Endless possibilities)
We have only tried sweet potato and banana so far and they did shrink quite a fair bit. Sweet potato was a miss with the dogs but bananas were a hit with humans and dogs 😛
Do take note to not slice the bananas too thinly as that might cause the banana to shrink too much and stick to your dehydrating tray.
The sweet potatoes took roughly 4 hours as they were sliced really thinly.
Fruits with high water content will take even longer – such as watermelon or banana. Our bananas took 14 hours in the dehydrator.
Other than those above, we also tried Yellowstripe Scad, silverfish and chicken feet! Those turned out pretty well and the dogs did like them. You can also marinate the items in Manuka honey, Apple Cider Vinegar or anything healthy for your dog, if your dog likes them!
Have fun and happy dehydrating!
Jamie and Cotton
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