A crisp is a thin slice of a fruit or a vegetable such as a potato or courgette which is then baked, deep fried or dehydrated, before being bagged and sold as a snack food. And while crisps are traditionally thought of as an unhealthy, that doesn’t need to be the case at all. In fact done correctly, a dog crisps recipe can in fact be extremely healthy!
The first thing you’re going to need if you want to make healthy dog crisps is a food dehydrator.
According to Wikipedia, “most modern food dehydrators are low-power convection ovens that uses heated air flow to reduce the water content of foods. The water content of food is usually very high, typically 80–95% for various fruits and vegetables and 50–75% for various meats. Removing moisture from food restrains various bacteria from growing and spoiling food. Further, removing moisture from food dramatically reduces the weight and often volume of the food, making it easier for storage. Thus, food dehydrators are used to preserve and extend the shelf life of various foods.”
And the really great thing about dehydrators as far as the home dog chef is concerned is that they’re extremely cheap. You can buy a modest but perfectly adequate food dehydrator for little more than £20.
Once you have your dehydrator, it’s time to consider what kind of crisps you’re going to make. For most people the natural place to start would seem to be the potato. But before we go any further, we need to distinguish the difference between potato crips for dogs and those traditionally eaten by humans.
Human potato crisps or potato chips are thin slices of potato, baked or fried in oil and then coated with salt. While dogs need salt in their diet, too much is harmful for their health just as it is for humans. So if you do decide to make potato crisps for your dog, no salt please. And definitely, definitely, do not be feeding your dog shop-bought crisps for humans. That will not do the health of your best friend any good at all!
While you can use potatoes, sweet potatoes or courgettes, my personal favourite at The Dog Chef is apple crisps. Depending on the time of year, apples are relatively cheap. They’re even free in many places at windfall time. They’re readily available and have a flavour dogs love. What’s not to like?
Whatever fruit or vegetables you choose to use in your dog crisps recipe, the first thing you need to do is to wash and dry them. Once they’re dry, you need to reduce your chosen fruit or veg to thin slices. Ideal for this is a mandolin slicer. You can do it by hand but a mandolin will make much lighter work of the job.
If you’re making courgette (zucchini) or sweet potato dog crisps, you can lay them out on your dehydrator’s trays and begin dehydrating them right away once they’re sliced.
If however you’re making potato or apple dog crisps, you need to blanch them after slicing. This reduces enzyme action. It helps the apples retain both their colour and their flavour. It stops them going brown as they would normally once exposed to the air for any period of time. And in the case of potatoes, it prevents the same enzyme action turning them an unappetizing colour of black!
Once dehydrated, your dog’s crisps will lose their crispness pretty quickly when exposed to the air. This may not bother your dog too much because they’ll still retain their flavour. But if you want to eat them yourself (which you can by the way) or keep some for a later date, it’s better to consider how best to preserve them.
The best way to do this is to invest in a vaccuum sealer food machine. This again can be purchased relatively inexpensively on the likes of Amazon or eBay. Once vaccuum sealed, I have known bagged dog crisps last a year or two.
I started making homemade dog crisps for my own dogs some years ago and I haven’t looked back. From my own trees here at The Dog Chef HQ I make enough apple crisps during the autumn to last my dogs the entire year. Because they contain only 100% natural goodness they make the ideal healthy dog treat. I probably make in the region of 100 bags a season, including courgette dog crisps which I use in their cooked food when courgettes are no longer available in the shops.
For a total investment of around £60, your dog too could be enjoying a dog crisps recipe!