I have previously written about making dehydrated sweet potato pet treats in your oven and how to dry catnip in your oven. Since then, I have purchased a dehydrator for making additional healthy treats. I discovered that, for not very much money, I can make crunchy dehydrated green beans and carrots that my dogs love. In fact, my dehydrator has already paid for itself in the savings from buying similar dehydrated treats.
Buying a Dehydrator
It all began when I bought some crispy dehydrated green beans. They were $12.99 for a small bag, and my dogs loved them. In fact, the bag was gone in a matter of days. Seeing how expensive that could become, I did a bit of shopping. I found that there isn’t much to a dehydrator. It is a plastic shell with a bunch of trays and a heating element. My research revealed that there wasn’t much need to buy a super high end one either, but that it was important to at least pay for one with a fan. That way, you won’t need to rotate the trays while using it. I ended up buying the NESCO FD-60 ($62.99) which happened to be on sale when I got it. Honestly I would just look for one on sale that has a fan.
Making Crispy Dehydrated Treats
Using a dehydrator is amazingly easy. However, there is one trick to making the process extra simple and to getting crispy, as opposed to leathery, green beans from it: Use frozen vegetables. If using fresh vegetables, it is important to blanch them in hot water for a few minutes first to remove the enzymes that cause spoiling, while not actually cooking out the nutrients. By using frozen vegetables, this step has already been done for you. Second, I tested the process with fresh green beans and they came out leathery and tough. My dogs still liked them, but they were not the crunchy delectable treats that they were addicted to. Frozen green beans, however, come out crispy. If you use fresh, blanch them and try freezing them first for crispy treats.
To make your treats, simply spread your snack of choice, in my case frozen green beans and carrots, on your trays. Plug in the dehydrator and set it to the appropriate temperature for vegetables. In my case that is 135 degrees. Wait 6-8 hours, or until the items are completely dry and crunchy, and you are done! I store mine in a plastic ziplock bag.
Pets Love Them
The vegetables shrink substantially when dried. A large bag of frozen green beans fills a small ziplock bag for me. I give the dogs a few at a time, and they totally adore them. I like knowing that the treats are natural, low calorie, and healthy. They are also the perfect size to use as training treats. At a cost of about $1.99 per bag, over time your dehydrator will also pay for itself in savings over buying expensive treats. By the way, you can eat these too. Myself and coworker tasted them and decided that they would be great on salads to add some healthy crunch!
Be sure to stick to fruits and vegetables that are known to be safe for pets. Carrots, green beans, sweet potatoes, and bananas are all safe options that pets tend to like. Some items, such as onions and grapes, are toxic to pets and should not be used. See this list of fruits and vegetables for more information on what is and is not safe for your pet.