With the mysterious taint on meat jerky from China, we’ve been searching for a way to make jerky at home.
We’re still experimenting, but this recipe has come closest so far. It’s an adaptation from a recipe for people jerky in Mary Bell’s Complete Dehydrator Cookbook with contributions from Gayle Pruitt’s dog jerky recipe in Dog-Gone Good Cuisine.
Homemade Chicken Jerky Treats for Dogs
Making chicken jerky at home is amazingly easy, even if you don’t have a dehydrator. It is time-consuming. You can experiment with marinades and spices. Keep in mind that any acidic marinade (made with lemon juice) should be kept in a plastic or glass container and the marinaded meat should be cooked in a non-metal container. I avoid spices because my dog has a digestive tract that often becomes unhappy with new foods.
Always remember to avoid marinades with onions, grape juice or wine, all of which are toxic to dogs.
Homemade Dog Jerky
3 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts with all fat, sinew and transparent tissues removed (fat doesn’t dehydrate well)
1 quart water
2 tablespoons turmeric, which is an anti-inflammatory
Remove all but one rack from the oven. Move it to the upper levels. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Farenheit (150 Centigrade).
Put the chicken breasts in the freezer for about 20 to 30 minutes. This makes them firmer and easier to cut into thin pieces. Take them out of the freezer one at a time to cut so they don’t warm up before you get to them.
Cut the chicken into strips 5-inches long, 1-inch wide and about 1/4-inch thick. In a plastic bag or a glass bowl, mix the turmeric and water together well. Add the chicken strips. Mix well so they are covered with the spice. Let soak about half an hour.
Grease two baking sheets with coconut oil (or grease a piece of parchment and lay it in the baking sheet). Place the chicken strips in a single layer on the sheets. Bake for 30 minutes, remove the chicken from the pan. Save the juices for a sauce. Let the chicken strips cook.
This step kills any microorganisms that may be in the meat.
If you have a dehydrator:
Place the baked and cooled chicken strips in a single layer on the trays of a dehydrator. Make sure they don’t touch and have room for air circulation. Turn the dehydrator on to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and dry for six to eight hours until the meat turns leathery.
If you are going to use an oven:
Line the bottom of the oven with a piece of aluminum foil or a baking sheet to catch drips. Spear one end of the chicken strips with a metal shishkebab skewer (or spear them with metal shower curtain hooks). Place the skewer across the oven rack so that the meat hangs between the bars or the rack (or hang the hooks from the rods of the oven rack).
Set the oven between 145 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Let the meat dry for six to 24 hours. The time required will depend on your oven, the thickness of the strips and the temperature of the oven. The finished jerky should be leathery in texture.
Put the jerky in a plastic bag and either freeze or put in the refrigerator to use within the next three weeks.
Another jerky option is sweet potato jerky. Here’s a recipe for that:
Homemade Sweet Potato Jerky for Dogs
2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and dried
Sweet potatoes are a rich source of vitamins A and C, although they have less protein than white potatoes. Because they are 74 percent water, according to dehydrating expert Mary Bell, they benefit from a two-step drying process. Baking them first helps break down the potato and makes it easier to peel.
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the sweet potatoes on a rack in the oven and bake until they are soft, but still firm to the touch. (This step took 45 to an hour in my oven.) Let the potatoes cool. You can then peel them (which I don’t on the theory it’s more fiber and vitamins) at this point. Then slice into 1/4 or 1/8-inch thick rounds. The more evenly you cut the rounds, the more evenly they will dry.
If you have a dehydrator:
Lay the rounds of sweet potato in a single layer on the trays of the dehydrator making sure there’s room for good air circulation. Set the temperature to between 130 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit and cook four to eight hours until leathery in texture.
If you are using your oven:
Lay the rounds of potato in a single layer of a baking sheet that has been covered with parchment. Set the oven to about 135 degrees and bake for four to eight hours. If they aren’t done at four hours, flip the slices of potato so both sizes cook evenly.
Dog jerky is just one type of treat that you can make at home. Check out our recipes for dog biscuits, pumpkin treats and homemade dog stew.