The best treats for cats and dogs are those that are tasty, natural, and made with love. Therefore, I am going to share with you my recipe for homemade jerky treats.
In this guide, you will learn how to make jerky treats for dogs and cats in the oven or in a food dehydrator.
Making treats at home is more eco-friendly and economical than buying ready-made ones. Why? Doing it at home requires less energy and resources. You can go shopping for meat only once, then put homemade treats in a reusable container – there is no need to produce packaging and multi-stage transport. Additionally, you can buy meat from a local farmer to support the local market.
What you needed to make these jerky treats for dogs and cats
It is up to you what the treats are made of – you have full control over the quality of the ingredients. If you want to feed your pet with high-quality products – this is the perfect way to do so.
- raw meat,
- a sharp knife,
- a food dehydrator or oven.
How much raw meat you need for jerky treats
During drying, the meat loses about 70% of its original weight – almost all the water. That means 300 grams of raw meat will give you about 100 grams of jerky treats.
I usually prepare 300-400 grams of meat and this is the ideal amount for my food dehydrator.
What kind of meat is the best for jerky treats
You can use any type of meat, but it is important that it is lean. Fat don’t dry out very well and become rancid, which can spoil the treats faster.
My favorite meat for there treats a turkey breast and chicken breast.
Pork and wild boar may contain the SHV-1 virus, which causes Aujeszky’s disease (also known as pseudorabies) in cats. The virus kills at high temperatures, but the temperature of drying the meat at home may turn out to be too low. So if you prefer to keep your cat safe, use other types of meat to make your treats.
What is better: a food dehydrator or oven
The drying time is similar in both devices, but the cost of use differs dramatically. At the end of this article, you will find a detailed calculation of the total cost of producing your treats on both devices.
Personally, I prefer to use a food dehydrator because it is easier to control the degree of drying of the meat and it uses less electricity #eco-lifestye.
Step by step instruction
The process of preparing treats is very simple but requires the use of sharp and hot objects. If you are a minor, please ask an adult for help.
Step 1 – Cut the meat
- Rinse the meat under running water and dry it.
- Optional: Put the meat in the freezer for about 30 minutes – this will make cutting easier.
- Cut the meat into 1-2 cm slices across the grain. The thinner you make the slices, the faster they will dry.
- Cut off any fat.
Step 2 – Dry the meat
Drying meat in a food dehydrator
- Place the meat slices in the food dehydrator so that they do not touch each other.
- Start the food dehydrator and turn the meat over from time to time to let it dry evenly.
- It takes 4-5 hours to dry the meat in the food dehydrator.
Drying the meat in the oven
- Place the meat slices on the wire rack so that they do not touch each other.
- Optional: To dry even more meat at once, you can use the skewer sticks: nail the meat onto the skewers so that they do not touch each other and hang the skewers on the wire rack.
- Set the temperature to 60°C in the oven and turn on hot air.
- Turn the meat from time to time to allow it to dry evenly.
- It takes 4-5 hours to dry the meat in the oven.
Step 3 – Store the treats
Put the finished treats in an airtight container, e.g. a jar. Jerky that is well dried and stored in an airtight container can last for several weeks.
PS. If you like my treat container, then stay tuned! I am working on the how-to guide about it 😉
The cost of making homemade jerky treats
What are the costs of producing jerky treats at home? The actual cost of preparing your treats depends on your electricity rate, the power consumption of your appliance, and the price at which you buy raw meat in a store or from a farmer.
The cost of meat
- Chicken fillet costs around 5.5 PLN (1,2 EUR) for 300 grams of raw chicken.
- Turkey fillet costs around 6.5 PLN (1,5 EUR) for 300 grams of raw turkey.
From 300 grams of raw meat, you can make 100 grams of jerky treats.
The cost of the meat dehydration
Making jerky treats in the food dehydrator
My food dehydrator has 250 W power. Considering that the food dehydrator must operate on average 4.5 hours to dry the meat, and the average electricity price in Poland is about PLN 0.60 per 1 kWh:
250 W x 4.5 h = 1.13 kWh
1.13 kWh x 0.60 PLN = 0.67 PLN
The cost of drying treats in a food dehydrator is about 0.67 PLN (0.15 EUR).
Making jerky treats in the oven
My oven has 1000 W power. Considering that the oven must operate on average 4.5 hours to dry the meat, and the average electricity price in Poland is about PLN 0.60 per 1 kWh:
1000 W x 4.5 h = 4.5 kWh
4.5 kWh x 0.60 PLN = 2.7 PLN
The cost of drying treats in the oven is about 2.7 PLN (0.60 EUR).
The total cost of making these treats at home
With the use of a food dehydrator:
- Jerky chicken: around 6.17 PLN (1,35 EUR) for 100 grams of treats.
- Jerky turkey: around 7.17 PLN (1,65 EUR) for 100 grams of treats.
When using the oven:
- Jerky chicken: about 8.2 PLN (1,8 EUR) for 100 grams of the treats.
- Jerky turkey: about 9.2 PLN (2,1 EUR) for 100 grams of the treats.
As you can see, a more economical and greener option is to dry the treats in the food dehydrator. Of course, if you do not have a food dehydrator at home, you can buy it from around 80 PLN (20 EUR) in most household appliances stores.
What are the benefits of making treats at home? Firstly, you can choose the type of meat and are in control of the exact quality of the ingredients. Secondly, jerky is an incredible addition to a natural diet (e.g. BARF diet) and is also great for allergy sufferers. Finally, the total cost of making treats at home is significantly lower than the cost of buying similar quality treats in a store.
Jerky treats are suitable for cats and other carnivorous pets. If the jerky strips are too large for your pet, you can break them into smaller pieces. If the treats are too firm, you can moisten it with water before serving, and the next time they are dried.
I am curious about the kind of meat your pets like. Which drying method have you chosen: oven or food dehydrator? Let me know in the comment!
I encourage you to show off your projects on Facebook or Instagram! Don’t forget to use the hashtag #CraftWithApollo and tag @apollofluffycat