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Anything wrong with giving small cooked pieces of chicken hearts, gizzards and some pork to a puppy for training treats? It will be kept refrigerated after cooking. I have been using pink salmon in a batter in pyramid silicone cooking trays that work well. Just though I could give them a change.

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If you have the patience and the freezer space, you can cook them, then chop, then spread on a cookie sheet and stick in your freezer to dehydrate. It takes a week at least, but you don't have to worry about spoilage. And MUCH cheaper than freeze dried from the store. Healthier, too, probably.

Ruth & Gibbs

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I appreciate everyones input. The only thing I have found locally is the chicken gizzards and hearts but I have not been to a lot of stores, and had a hard time finding them. I was looking for beef or pig hearts but I have never seen them. Maybe if I would asked the butcher he could direct me to them if they have them. I can't stand the smell or taste of liver so I will stay clear of that.

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I share your feelings about liver, NW.  Definitely ask. If you have a small locally owned grocery store they would be a good place to ask, too. An ethnic food store might have some, too.

I find gizzards, hearts and livers in little plastic containers, (just like cottage cheese, only bloody!) in the meat section, where cut up chickens are sold in packages.

Ruth & Gibbs

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Yep, works fine, just takes longer. I only have a fridge/freezer combo, but it's doable. I make sure that I've got room in the freezer for a couple cookie sheets, cut up whatever I'm using, (treat roll, left over chicken/beef, etc) and spread it on the cookie sheet. Pop it in the freezer, stir a couple times a week. At the end of a week or maybe two, I've got yummy, reasonably priced freeze dried treats.

The things we do for these beasties.

Ruth & Gibbs

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6 hours ago, urge to herd said:

Yep, works fine, just takes longer. I only have a fridge/freezer combo, but it's doable. I make sure that I've got room in the freezer for a couple cookie sheets, cut up whatever I'm using, (treat roll, left over chicken/beef, etc) and spread it on the cookie sheet. Pop it in the freezer, stir a couple times a week. At the end of a week or maybe two, I've got yummy, reasonably priced freeze dried treats.

The things we do for these beasties.

Ruth & Gibbs

The question that comes to my mind is.....is there a difference between freeze dried and freezer burned? I hate freezer burned meat! Or is it more of how long you keep it in the freezer?

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Since it's for the dog, not me, freezer burn is not a concern. My dog, (and all the previous ones) happily scarfs down all the usual disgusting things a dog eats, or tries to, at least. Feces from almost any source, (cat feces seem to be especially tasty,) unidentifiable stuff that appears from time to time on the paths we frequent, and some identifiable stuff that REALLY grosses me out. And it's kinda tough to gross me out. 

If you're thinking of trying this technique out for food for yourself, probably a counter-top dehydrator would produce better results in terms of flavor.

Ruth & Gibbs

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There are freeze dryers (home versions as well as commercial ones) that do the job faster as they extract the moisture from whatever's been frozen. Doing the the way Ruth suggests will cause freezer burn and will change the taste and texture but doesn't really change the nutritional value.

I feed raw and I've fed my dogs plenty of freezer burned meat that people have given me. They really don't seem to care a jot about any difference in taste or texture as we do -- I haven't even known them to pick out the fresh meats and leave the freezer burned stuff till last when it's been mixed. They just don't have the need to keep food in their mouths to begin the digestion process as we do (they have very few enzymes in their saliva and no grinding teeth), so even with larger bits it's gulp, chew only if and as much as it takes to get the food down and swallow. I really don't think flavor and texture are nearly so important for them as they are for us . . . as some of their preferences for all manner of stuff that's pretty icky to us would seem to attest. I suspect smell has an even more important role in palatability for them than it does for us, too. They even have a smell sensory organ inside their mouths that we lack.

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Thanks Gentlelake and Ruth! Are freeze dryers and dehydrators kind of the same thing or is one preferred over another. It will be basically for the dogs but I like jerky too and who knows what else I would try. The dogs really like the pyramid style treats but i would like to give them more of a raw meaty version of treats too.

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Freeze dryers and dehydrators are entirely different beasts and work on completely different principles.

Freeze dryers, as the name implies, freeze the food and remove the moisture. The home machines (and I assume the industrial ones do the same on a larger scale) have a fan that removes the moisture by sucking it into a drip tube and then a collection receptacle. Because there's no heat involved, there's no degradation of heat sensitive nutrients. Essentially, you get the whole food in it's raw form sans the moisture.

Dehydrators work by gently heating the food while a fan blows air across it removing the evaporating moisture. It's slow cooking to be sure, but it's definitely cooked food. As a result some nutrients will be lost.

Both freeze dried and dehydrated treats are convenient, but the nutritional value of freeze dried is superior to dehydrated.

You can also dehydrate food without blowing air across it, say in a conventional oven at low heat. It will probably take a bit longer without the benefit of air blowing the moisture away as soon as it forms, but it basically achieves the same thing.

Same with the home freezer method of freeze drying, though most refrigerator/freezer combos are now frost free, which means that there's a certain amount of air running through the unit removing moisture before it collects. (I'm old enough to remember having to defrost freezers by hand. ;)) Chest freezers don't usually have this feature, which is why ice builds up on the walls that has to be removed periodically. (Never had an upright freeze, so dunno if they come in frost free versions or not.) So I'd guess dehydrating in a chest freezer would take a bit longer to accomplish than in the freezer compartment of a frost free unit.

 

 

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p.s. With home preparation by either method it's very important to make sure the foods are thoroughly processed, stored properly and used within a pretty short length of time.

Commercial manufacturers using both methods have various quality control measures in place and can test their products to make sure that all moisture is actually removed.

Doing it at home, we can't do that. I've dehydrated meats that I was sure were adequately dehydrated only to find them moldy within a few days stored at room temps. Now I make pretty small quantities of treats and store anything I make myself in the freezer until I'm ready to use it, and if what I've thawed isn't used right away it goes back into the freezer, or at least the fridge for quick consumption.

The same is true even with other types of homemade baked "cookie" treats.

Some of the molds that grow on these things -- and that can be present even before they're visible -- can be pretty toxic.

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Thanks, GL! I"ve not ever used a food dehydrator, and given no thought to how they work. Very interesting and good to know.

So, commercially dehydrated foods that I've used don't seem to spoil. I assume the commercial machines are much more powerful and better at getting every last bit of moisture out?

I have vivid memories of my parents spending a long weekend here & there defrosting our stand alone freezer. Gad, what a mess & ordeal.

Ruth & Gibbs

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@urge to herd @GentleLake.  Thanks for the info.  Particularly regarding the small batches.  I tend to prepare most of my food in bulk and freeze in portions.  While the freezing would help with what you refer to.  Still, the reminder was good to hear. In regards to the importance of scent to palatability, while TuxeDog will eat just about anything no matter what, this appears to be especially important for TortieCat.  I couldn't find a treat that TortieCat would work for until an employee at a boutique pet shop suggested that none of the treats I was using were smelly enough.  She pointed me towards freeze dried fish chunks (I don't recall the type of fish, a smelly one...) and that was my first ever success with any sort of dry and easier-than-wet-food-to-handle treat.  

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3 hours ago, GentleLake said:

p.s. With home preparation by either method it's very important to make sure the foods are thoroughly processed, stored properly and used within a pretty short length of time.

Commercial manufactures using both methods have various quality control measures in place and can test their products to make sure that all moisture is actually removed.

Doing it at home, we can't do that. I've dehydrated meats that I was sure were adequately dehydrated only to find them moldy within a few days stored at room temps. Now I make pretty small quantities of treats and store anything I make myself in the freezer until I'm ready to use it, and if what I've thawed isn't used right away it goes back into the freezer, or at least the fridge for quick consumption.

The same is true even with other types of homemade baked "cookie" treats.

Some of the molds that grow on these things -- and that can be present even before they're visible -- can be pretty toxic.

:o Yikes.......thanks for warning me!

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