Simple, Safe, Scrumptious, and Cost Saving Homemade Chicken Jerky
In 2007, some chicken jerky treats produced in the U.S. and China were found tainted with some form of bacteria. The tainted treats caused illnesses in dogs and cats, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reported they collected over 4,800 complaints and over 1,000 pet deaths.
Owners were cautioned to avoid purchasing chicken jerky specifically from China because it was assumed these treats were made from chicken-based products.
I’m not sure what this means, as, in most articles, there was no specific cause identified; however, the experts emphatically state, the best chicken jerky treats for your pets should be homemade!
There are many recipes for this treat, and I believe they are all great! Here’s my formula, and my explanation of why this treat is simple, safe, scrumptious, and saves you money.
Simple: Chicken Jerky Recipe
My Pup and her Buds love chicken jerky, but it can be a bit pricey, so I make their jerky treat. Dogs eat by smell because they don’t have taste buds, so most do not savor the flavor.
2-3 lbs. fresh boneless skinless chicken breast
2 quarts water
2 tbsp. salt
1 tbsp. sugar
- Mix the sugar and salt in water and dissolve.
- Trim the chicken breast of all fat.
- Add the chicken to the water solution and soak 4 – 8 hrs.
Note: I like to brine the breast for moisture, tenderizing, and preserving. This also adds some flavor if you wish to snack along with your pooch.
- Take the chicken from the liquid, rinse, and pat dry.
- Freeze breast for 2 hours if you’re planning on serving it immediately.
(Freezing makes it easier to slice the chicken)
- After 2 hours in the freezer, remove the amount of chicken you want to prepare and slice the breasts with the grain in ⅛-¼ inch pieces.
Note: The thicker the cut, the chewier the jerky.
Hint: When chicken breasts are on sale, I occasionally buy more than I need, so after I’ve soaked the breasts and freeze them, I leave some of the breasts in the freezer until it’s time to dehydrate and make more treats.
- Thaw the pieces thoroughly and pat dry.
- Layout the strips on a dehydrating pan and place them in the dehydrator at 170 degrees F;
Or place the strips on a baking pan with racks and place them in the oven; if your oven has a dehydrator, set it at 170 degrees F.
If your oven does not have a dehydrator setting, set your oven to the lowest temperature (typically, this temperature is about 200 degrees F).
- Cook the strips for 90 minutes, then flip them and cook for another 90 minutes.
- Switch off the oven and let dry for another 90 minutes.
- Cool the chicken strips completely.
- Store the treats in an airtight container.
You are ready to serve up this healthy treat!
- Bowl or container
- Chopping block
- Knife or cleaver (I like a Chinese cleaver)
- Dehydrating pan or drying rack on a cookie sheet
- Airtight container to store the treats
Note: Check the ingredients on commercially produced jerky; some add sugar and salt and other flavorings.
Drying racks – optional
Safe: Preparation Precautions from Contracting Salmonella and E. Coli
Preparing chicken has its risks, but the risks can be mitigated by taking a few precautionary steps.
Leaving chicken at room temperature for an extended period can promote the growth of salmonella and E. Coli. If your dog ingests these bacteria, the dog will exhibit nausea, have a fever, and vomit, just to mention a few symptoms.
Safety preparation hints:
- Prior to handling the chicken, clean all utensils, work area, bowls, and all other equipment with bleach and water.
- Have all persons handling the food wash their hands thoroughly.
- When thawing the chicken, keep the meat in the refrigerator. Avoid thawing the chicken at room temperature to avoid bacterial growth.
- While the chicken is soaking, avoid keeping in at room temperature. Instead, place the mixture in the refrigerator for the entire soaking period.
- Heat the chicken to at least 165 degrees F. This recipe requires heating to be no less than 170 degrees F.
- Salt in this recipe to cure the meat will prevent the growth of bacteria. Salt is an excellent preservative.
- After preparation, be sure to store the jerky treats in an airtight container and store it in a cool and dry area.
Scrumptious: Proof dogs love homemade chicken jerky
There’s not much to say about the taste of homemade chicken jerky when you see your pup leaping and begging for a morsel. It is true for dog treats and food as it is with human foods, nothing beats fresh!
Cost Saving: At least 60%
Here is a quick comparison of costs when purchasing commercially made chicken jerky treats against the expenses you expect to pay if you make your jerky at home.
This estimate only covers the cost of the chicken and does not include any equipment or utensils you might purchase.
Commercial prices for jerky treats can run from $15 to $25 for a 16oz bag, and most add sugar, spices, and other ingredients for taste.
I buy fresh boneless chicken breast, especially on sale for $1.99 or $3.99 a pound. Dehydrating loss is about 50%, so $4 or $8 a pound is a terrific deal.
Assumption: To make a comparable amount of dehydrated chicken jerky (16 oz.), you are expected to purchase double the amount of fresh chicken to compensate for shrinkage after drying.
Commercial chicken jerky: 16 oz. $15.00 to $25.00
Estimated Fresh chicken: 16 oz. $ 1.99 to $ 3.99
32 oz. $ 3.98 to $ 7.98
The estimated cost savings: 16 oz. $11.00 to $17.00
Estimated percent savings: 73% 68%
In conclusion, making homemade chicken jerky treats are:
- Simple to make with the few ingredients that should be readily available to you.
- Safe for your dog because you are in control of all ingredients, the preparation, and the processing of the treat.
- Scrumptious to the dog because it is freshly made.
- Cheaper to produce at home with a cost savings of anywhere from 68% to 73%.
As a dog owner and lover, you should ask yourself the question, “why shouldn’t I make my dog homemade chicken jerky?”
There are only positives for preparing this treat for your family dog.