Introduction: What Dogs Want....Chicken Jerky

My 3 very spoiled Chihuahuas LOVE 'treats', and their favorite is jerky. Chicken jerky is what I most often make for them...the cost is reasonable, it is easy to remove all the fat, and they love it.

When I first started making jerky, I used one of those round plastic dehydrators....the fan & heating element is located in the base, and the circular drying racks stack on top, with a lid topping it off. Those were great to start out with, but I ended up doing a lot of drying, and needed something bigger. You can find wonderful directions for making your own, but I opted to buy a stainless steel dehydrator with metal racks, and the heat control ranges from 155F to 95F, I can load it up with probably about 25-30 pounds of meat strips at one time. If you shop around its possible to find a decent one without going broke....mine cost under $200, and within the first year I saved more than that with just the jerky (for doggy & human consumption) that I made, I've had it for about 3 years. It was a great investment.

The only other utensils you'll need is a good sharp knife and a cutting board.

On to the process.....



Step 1: Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast...with Bits of Fat Removed

That's all the ingredients.....just chicken (cost $12.80)!

I bought 10 pounds of chicken breasts (with the skin & bones) for $1.28 per pound...it was on sale. After skinning, de-boning, and trimming the fat....you just cut the breasts into strips.

All the bones, skin & fat went into a pot with water, I simmered it all afternoon......the start of a wonderful soup for me! When I'm all done with this 10 pounds of chicken, the only 'waste' will be a couple of handfuls of bones! The cooked skin & cartilage will be fed to a rescued dog with a large litter of pups that I'm caring for.

Step 2: Cutting the Chicken Into Strips

You want the strips to be fairly uniform in thickness, about 1/2 inch thick.

First, I remove the chicken "tender", it's located on the 'inside' of the breast filet, it will ALMOST pull off...there's only a small section that needs to be cut. Depending on the size of the 'tender' I'll slice it into 2 or 3 strips.

Then, slice away at the breast...making lengthwise cuts about 1/2 inch thick.

Step 3: Laying Out the Strips on the Rack

It is important to lay the strips of meat on the rack so that they don't touch.

First of all, air-flow is important.......secondly, if the strips are touching, they'll tend to stick to each other.

It only took 3 1/2 of my racks for this batch.....I could have fitted them a little closer together, but didn't need to. My dehydrator holds 10 racks, so there was no need to take the time to arrange them closer without touching.

Step 4: Drying Temps & Time {vary Greatly Between Models of Dehydrators}

I always start chicken jerky at 155F, for about 90 minutes....and I set the timer (for a 10 pound batch) for 8 hours (total drying time).

After 90 minutes (when the strips have become 'opaque'...basically 'cooked') , I drop the temperature to 125F, for another 60 minutes.

Then (at this point the edges will look dried, but the centers won't be dried out) I drop the temperature to 95F, for the remainder of the time.

{It is important to note......not all dehydrators perform the same, drying times can vary greatly between models. The important thing is (with chicken) to start out on a high temperature, once the meat looks "cooked" drop the heat, and once the edges are dried, drop the heat again.}

Step 5: Done!!!!

The strips of chicken will look like....well, jerky! I always break a thick spot in a piece, and check that it is uniformly dried out.

Ten pound batches work well for me, I keep the jerky in a plastic storage bag...in the refrigerator. I use nothing for a preservative, and just feel safer keeping it cold.

Occasionally, after the bag of jerky has been in refrigerator for a few hours, condensation will form on the inside of the bag. I just put 3 or 4 sheets of paper towel in the bag with the jerky, and leave them there until the condensation is gone from the bag, then remove them. I've never had to replace the paper towels with dry ones.

I've kept chicken jerky in the refrigerator for about 2 1/2 weeks.....but it is usually GONE before then!

When feeding your dogs jerky, don't over-do it.....and make sure they have plenty of water.

Comments

author
arenda.villarreal (author)2015-01-16

We have fed our large dogs a raw diet for almost ten years with no problems. Their diet consist of chicken, beef, turkey and pork. We started the puppies on chicken wings which we have also give to our small dog. We make chicken jerky at least once a month in our oven as it has a setting for dehydration and leave it in the oven overnight. We are going to try pork jerky this weekend.

author

I've thought about pork treats....but worry about trichinosis. Isn't that something to worry about with dogs?

author
DeeRilee (author)2015-01-16

This week I found a sale on boneless, skinless (HUGE) chicken breasts for $1.98/lb....for about $20 I ended up with three gallon-sized zip-lock bags FULL (as in 'couldn't have fit more in') of jerky.

They were 'almost' frozen when I brought them home, I sliced them (about 1/2 inch thick) with my slicer. (Almost frozen is the easiest way to slice raw meats.) My dehydrator was almost full. There is no way you can buy quality 'dog treats' for what I paid...and the little time it took to slice & lay on the drying racks.

author
sunshiine (author)2014-05-13

Our dogs love the chicken jerky but it does get expensive. I don't have a food dryer but might try an oven method. Thanks for sharing and do have a great day. Wish you the best in the contest.

sunshiine

author
DeeRilee (author)sunshiine2015-01-16

I watch for sales on chicken breasts. But even at 'regular' price, it is cheaper than buying 'chicken jerky' for dogs.....and I know that it is quality meat.

author
Phoghat (author)2014-05-21

"All the bones, skin & fat went into a pot with water, I simmered it all afternoon......the start of a wonderful soup for me!"
IF you, like me, do this all the time for stock, you'll find it much more flavorful if you brown them in the oven at around 400 F just until they are brown enough to your liking.

author
DeeRilee (author)Phoghat2014-05-21

Great idea, something I 'knew', but just don't think to do.

author
ianheavy (author)2014-05-05

Does the drying process remove the salmonella form the chicken, or is this not a problem?

author
DeeRilee (author)ianheavy2014-05-06

There IS much controversy over feeding dogs a "raw diet", (the recommended temperature for cooking chicken IS 180F, especially for human consumption), that said...I've been feeding chicken jerky to my 3 Chihuahuas on a regular basis for about a year now...and they have never been adversely effected. There are many people who feed a raw diet that includes RAW chicken. (I'm not keen on having my "girls" dragging raw chicken pieces through my house though...thank you very much.)

I buy chicken, usually the day I dry it, from the grocery store. All my utensils are clean.....I'm very careful about cleaning my cutting boards (I scrub them clean of any food, then spray them with a peroxide solution, rinse well & air-dry.)

After drying, I store the jerky in plastic storage bags in the refrigerator....and I make small enough batches that they only last 2 weeks. And I tend to dry the chicken jerky I make for them out more than the jerky you would buy for yourself at a convenience store....less moisture = a less hospitable environment for bacteria, etc. (The dryer jerky makes for more chewing for the dog! They like that.)

Anyone who is uncomfortable with the 'less than 180F' temperature that I used, could always transfer the jerky to the oven long enough to heat the jerky further. And if their pet's immune system is compromised by health problems, it might be a good idea.

I'm comfortable feeding my healthy dogs this jerky.....and believe me I love them as though I had given birth to them. =)

I was also a professional cook for a long time, so I know what 'safe temps' are regarding human consumption.

author
ianheavy (author)DeeRilee2014-05-06

Dee, thank-you for your most comprehensive reply.

author
chiefjudge09 (author)2014-05-02

I make chicken jerky for myself, and always dry it at the highest temperature which is 165 for my machine. Why do you dry it at such a low temperature what's the benefit?

author
DeeRilee (author)chiefjudge092014-05-03

I start it out at 165.......but finishing it off at a lower temp seems to make them dry more evenly, although it takes longer.

author
HollyMann (author)2014-05-02

Wow you are the nicest pet owner ever! I think my cats would even love this if they could chew it up alright :) awesome instructable! I just have a regular dehydrator...even that should work if I wanted to make jerky..but haven't tried it.

author
DeeRilee (author)HollyMann2014-05-02

Thank you!

You might try dehydrating some ground turkey (maybe mixed with a beaten egg to hold the ground meat together) for your cats!

As long as your dehydrator has a heating element and a fan...it should work fine!

author
HollyMann (author)DeeRilee2014-05-03

Thank you so much for the great tips! I think I will do this in a couple weeks when I'm out of school! I'll let you know how it turns out!

author
JMRaphael (author)2014-05-02

This looks really delicious! I want my own dehydrator now. I was curious about the temperature, though. I've always seen 165°F as the recommended safe cooking minimum for chicken. Is there something else about the process that would kill salmonella?

author
DeeRilee (author)JMRaphael2014-05-02

I worried about that myself, and if my dehydrator went up to 165F, I would surely use that temperature! I've been making chicken jerky for them for a couple of years with no problems.

My cutting board, knife & dehydrator are all kept clean (I love peroxide for disinfecting food prep areas). And I usually bring the chicken home from the store & immediately start making jerky, so the meat is fresh from the grocer. And, I store the jerky in the refrigerator, not at room temperature.

Also, (IMHO) unless a dog already has a compromised immune system, its digestive system can cope with bacterias. There are many people who feed their dogs raw food regularly, with no ill effect.

Anyone who isn't comfortable with processing it below 165F, could always start the process in their oven, then finish drying in a dehydrator.

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