Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Turkey jerky dog treats

broad breasted White turkeys
    On many occasions we find ourselves with older breeding stock and wondering what to do with them. Poultry that is more than 6 to 9 months is usually pretty tough to eat.  One of the simplest solutions is simply turn them into dog treats such as turkey or chicken jerky. 
Ronco non-forced air dehydrator
   Start with lean meat and trim all fat, skin and bone off of meat. Slice the meat into thin strips, usually 1/4 inch or less. Thinner meat strips take less drying time. (Do not add seasoning, salts or sugars as this is for dog treats and is not needed.) It is also one of the big advantages over store-bought jerky that usually has preservatives added to it.  From here there are two different ways to dehydrate meat. One is in the oven at 200° for several hours. Place the thin strips of meat you wish to dehydrate over wire racks sitting in baking pans. The wire racks allow any remaining fat to drain off into the pan. Periodically check the meat for dryness every 30 min. or so. The strips should be leathery to brittle in consistency.  Any pieces that are spongy or not dry will require additional drying time. 
         The second method uses a dehydrator. The Nesco-american Harvest Snackma (Google Affiliate Ad)  is a good one to start with and cost less than $70. It uses forced air which reduces drying time and cuts down on the electric bill.
 The advantage to a dehydrator is that it's more cost-effective and in hot weather doesn't heat the whole house.
    Meat that is greasy or oily may require freezing or refrigeration to prevent spoilage. If you intend to freeze your jerky be sure and add a silica gel pack to the bag to prevent moisture. Usually I will create my jerky in small batches. I freeze the meat sliced until I need to make jerky. During the summer months I sometimes give the dogs slices of frozen meat sickles instead of jerky. Always smell the jerky for spoilage before you give it to your pet. Unpleasant odors are an indication of spoilage and jerky should be thrown away.

In the end you will save more money and give your dogs healthier treats if you make your own jerky. 

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