What could be more tasty than a snack that you can share with your very best friend?
Making beef jerky with your at-home dehydrator is fun, but it’s tricky to find a recipe that is both tasty enough for the humans in your household, and safe and healthy for your dog. Many “people jerky” recipes are high in sugar and salt, which helps preserve the jerky and add flavor. Large amounts of sugar and salt are, naturally, bad for both humans and dogs. People jerky also tends to have seasonings like onions that are actually toxic for dogs.
Dog jerky tends to be very plain, and while dogs do not mind the lack of seasonings, they’re not flavorful enough for most people to enjoy them.
I created a recipe that has a small amount of salt, sugar and dog-friendly seasonings to help preserve the meat, adding flavor that both humans and dogs love.
*Flank steak is a popular cut for jerky because it’s low in fat. Fat does not dehydrate well, and it tends to go rancid. You can choose a different cut of meat, just look for lean meats and be sure to trim any fat from the edges.
At $10 a pound, it’s a bit spendy, but you’ll end up with about 6 ounces of jerky. That’s about $1.66 per ounce, comparable to commercial jerky – so you won’t be saving a ton of money, but your jerky will be healthier for both you and your dog. I’ll be on the lookout for ways to make more economical beef jerky, but for now, here’s how I made beef flank steak jerky:
- Approximately 1.5 pounds beef flank steak
- 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (with the Mother)
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon oregano
- Cut beef flank steak into 1/4″ strips or chunks, against the grain for tender jerky, with the grain for chewy jerky. I cut strips, but next time I’d probably try chunks for a smaller training treat. The smaller you go, the faster they will dehydrate. Small pieces will come out crispy, thick pieces will be chewy. Just cut uniform pieces so they will all be done at the same time. Pound with a meat mallet if desired.
- Mix all other ingredients with a whisk to create a marinade.
- Place strips in a large ziplock bag or bowl and add the marinade. Marinate in fridge for at least an hour.
- Drain marinade (most of it will soak into the meat,) spread strips out on a plate and pat dry with a paper towel.
- Set dehydrator to highest temperature – 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If you cannot control the temperature setting or if it does not go that high, you may not be able to dehydrate meat to a safe temperature.
- Dehydrate for 4 hours. It is not ideal to dehydrate longer because if the bacteria has not been killed by then, it’ll be thriving in a moist, warm environment. You can get sick from Salmonella if your jerky is not cooked fast enough, because the food can spoil during the process, according to the USDA website. Dogs can typically eat questionable jerky without getting sick because their digestive tract is short and acidic – not an ideal environment for salmonella to overgrow.
- Bake in a 275 degree oven for 10 minutes to blast any bacteria that might remain.
- Store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks, refrigerate for up to 6 months, freeze for a year.