This month's Monday recipes are all about the meat! Our recipe shares are often a mix of fruits, veggies, dairy, grains, and other doggone delicious ingredients; however, meat is a very important part of our dog's daily diet - even if it isn't part of mine. Today's meat treat is very simple and one we make on a regular basis - jerky. Our dog-friendly jerky has no added salt, preservatives, or mystery ingredients.
DIY Homemade Jerky Treats for Dogs: Snacking Strips: Trim your muscle meat to remove any visible fat. Slice into small evenly sized strips (see tips below). Marinate using dog-friendly ingredients (optional - see tips below) and dehydrate. This style of treat works well for large lean cuts of just about anything. Shortcut? Schnitzel cuts (thin and very lean) are an absolute breeze to cut into strips, no freezing required!
DIY Homemade Jerky Treats for Dogs: Nibble Nuggets Trim your muscle meat to remove any visible fat. Chop into small evenly sized nuggets (see tips below). Marinate using dog-friendly ingredients (optional - see tips below) and dehydrate. This style of dehydrated treat works well for meats that are header to source, trim, slice into long lean strips - I find it works particularly well for lamb.
DIY Homemade Jerky Treats for Dogs: Jerky Sizzlers Skip the cutting all together and buy lean meat in pre-cut "sizzle steak" style. Marinate using dog-friendly ingredients (optional - see tips below) and dehydrate. This style of treat is quick, convenient, and the dogs absolutely love them! These large flat treats are space-hogs on the dehydrating rack, but they dehydrate quite quickly.
Dehydrating: Once ready to dehydrate, arrange on racks. Maximise your layout for volume/efficiency, but make sure to allow some space for air circulation. Dehydrate according to your manufacturer's directions. If you don't have a dehydrator, you can substitute an oven-safe baking/cooking rack, drip tray, and a fan-forced oven, noting that it is recommended to pre-heat meats to ~75C then dehydrate at ~60C (refer to the safety link below). Dehydration time will vary with method, meat, thickness, etc; however, you want to make sure that your meat is cured thoroughly. It will turn colour, firm up, become dry to the touch, but still have some chewy flex. Cool before serving and storage.
Tips and Tricks:
- For safety, start with a quality lean meat, practice safe food handling, and dehydrate with care using meat appropriate dehydrator settings or oven temperatures. Although jerky is often kept at room temperature, we freeze and keep small quantities in the fridge to be on the safer side. You can read more about jerky safety here.
- You can use fresh or thaw from frozen meats. Shop for sales or get friendly with your neighborhood butcher. You want safe quality meat, but tougher cuts are a-ok for jerky and keep it lean. You don't want fatty marbled meat: harder to dehydrate, less healthful, and a higher risk of going rancid.
- Thicker strips will be chewier, but take longer to dehydrate thoroughly. Slicing with the grain (where feasible) can also help to increase the chewiness of the finished jerky. You may find it easier to slice meat from whilst frozen or partially-frozen for firmness.
- You can make jerky straight-up with plain meat, or marinate it a little in a splash of citrus juice or apple cider vinegar and/or a gentle rub of dog-friendly herbs. Combos our dogs enjoy include turmeric and pepper, rosemary, lemon and parsley, and pretty much anything else they can get their mouths on - including deliciously plain meaty goodness. No need to be fancy to please these boys! :)