After making and sharing two variations of natural dog treats for Basil (apple treat recipe here and carrot & banana treat recipe here), we had a few requests for some gluten and grain free natural variations. We've pined here on the blog before over our love for Sam's Yams natural sweet potato dog treat chews, and this past weekend we tried our hand at making our own version.
We've LOVED dehydrated sweet potatoes as a treat option for Basil for many reasons. They are completely natural and made from a healthy whole food for starters. Other benefits include the fact that they actually take him a while to eat (he has to work at them) and they can "regulate" his system in times of need, if you catch our drift... Sam's Yams brand sweet potato chews have been our choice so far since they are the straight up sweet potatoes — no added fillers or supplement claims. They also come in large packages with the giant thick chews. All of this being said, these packaged sweet potato treats are pretty expensive — enough so that we get them in limited quantities and every single time we do buy them we ask ourselves why we couldn't make them ourselves.
Up until this point, we've always thought we couldn't make them since we don't yet own a food dehydrator. That being said, we made a batch of homemade fruit leather this past fall in our own oven that called for a slow dehydrating process — so we thought we'd try the same process to try to dehydrate some sweet potatoes!
So, while picking up groceries at Ellwood Thompson's this weekend, we loaded up 3 ginormous organic sweet potatoes and promised ourselves this would be the weekend we tackled making these dog treats. They actually came out great and we couldn't wait to share our method here on the blog for all of you that might be interested in making them for your own pups!
What you'll need:
- Large sweet potatoes
- Mandoline or sharp knife
- Cutting Board
- Baking Sheets
- Aid of your choosing for greasing the pans
Preheat oven to lowest setting; ours went all the way down to 175 degrees. Meanwhile, slice one top off sweet potatoes to make for easier balancing when slicing. Carefully cut thick lengthwise slices of the sweet potato using a sharp knife or mandoline, about 1/3 inch thick for larger chews (we went with the crinkle cut setting on our mandoline and chose to leave the skin on). Trust me, you want them thick — when dehydrating, the slices are going to lose the majority of their thickness.
Grease you baking sheets and arrange slices on flat surface of pans. Place pans on top racks inside oven and let them do their thing...for a looooong time.
We let ours slowly cook and dehydrate over a period of about 8 hours, give or take. The higher your heat setting, the less amount of time you will need, though the lower the setting and longer the time, the better the overall outcome.
Here's what ours looked like about 4 hours into the process:
You can take your dehydrated chips out of the oven when they have reached your desired doneness; less amount of time for softer/chewier treats and a longer amount of time for dryer and tougher treats. We opted for longer and turned our oven off when they were almost fully dry to the touch. They were still a tad moist and pliable at that point so we just let them sit in the oven turned off overnight — the next morning they were perfect.
You can really see the difference before and after being in the oven:
While a little bit thinner then the store bought treats we're used to, we were really happy with the outcome and simply made a note to cut thicker slices next go round.
Update: We actually did make thicker ones a little later, see the "meatier" outcome here.
The final test laid in the hands (er, paws) of Basil's approval:
He liked them so well it was hard to get a still shot of him when he had one. This is how he really felt about them:
Now that we've successfully made a batch of these dehydrated sweet potato chew treats for Basil, we're thinking this same process could translate over to other fruits and vegetables like apples, bananas, and more. This process is a great way to make natural, gluten free and grain free treats for your dogs — and save a little money while you're at it!