Dog Treats
April 27, 2008 5:28 PM   Subscribe

My dog loves dried sweet potato chews. They go for $20 a bag in the pet store even though the only ingredients are potatoes. It must be that I can make them at home for the cost of a potato. Do I need a fancy food dehydrator or can I just cut the potatoes up into thick pieces and put my oven on 200F for a many hours? Anyone have a specific recipe or experience making them?

I didn't find any recipes on line. Thanks for your help.
posted by about_time to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Drying fruits and vegetables
posted by netbros at 5:38 PM on April 27, 2008

I have dried potatoes, including sweet potatoes, for storage, and they can be done in the oven, but only if your oven has a setting lower than 200 degrees. It needs to be about 130-140 degrees, and you'd want to prop the door open just a bit for air circulation. They'd need to be cut about 1/8 inch thick and take anywhere from 6-12 hours, depending on moisture content and how crisp/chewy you want them. The more moisture you leave in, the more chance of spoilage, but if you don't make a lot and that shouldn't be a big issue.

I got tired of having my oven on for those kinds of time periods (pure misery really), so I shelled out for a dehydrator. You can find ones that aren't terribly expensive, and it won't heat up your whole kitchen or house. I think ours cost $30, and we have gotten more than our money's worth out of it.
posted by Orb at 5:40 PM on April 27, 2008

If you're a do-it-yourselfer, Alton Brown made a dehydrator for beef jerky using a box fan and a set of air conditioner filters all bungeed together.

Here's another AskMe with some details about purchasing a dehydrator (and a link to the Alton Brown solution).
posted by cabingirl at 5:50 PM on April 27, 2008

Alton Brown swears by his homemade dehydrator made from air conditioning filters and a box might try googling around for examples and trying that. Much less expensive than running an oven for that long!
posted by griffey at 5:52 PM on April 27, 2008

....and that's why that preview button exists. Sorry guys.
posted by griffey at 5:52 PM on April 27, 2008

The $30 dehydrator that Wal Mart sells actually does a decent job. In the summer, I stick it out on my deck so it won't heat up the house and make tons of dried tomatoes. I am sure that it would work for sweet potatoes, too.
posted by Ostara at 6:28 PM on April 27, 2008

An actual helpful link, with recipe, is here.

You could also check this out.

I love my dehydrator but I use it for jerky and fruit leathers and have never dried potatoes.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:40 PM on April 27, 2008

If your dog loves $20 bags of dried sweet potatoes, then yeah, you should pick up a cheap dehydrator. If you grow any fruit or vegetables that tend toward heavy cropping (particularly tomatoes), you'll probably find uses for it beyond making dog treats, and even if not, it'll pay for itself after a couple of bags' worth.
posted by mumkin at 6:42 PM on April 27, 2008

We make those - cut up some sweet potatoes, blanch them, then dry in the oven at 100 degrees overnight. Sometimes it takes a couple of nights.
posted by Mr Bunnsy at 7:22 PM on April 27, 2008

I have a dehydrator but I found myself wondering if I was paying more in electricity to run it than it would cost me to buy.
posted by jockc at 8:55 PM on April 27, 2008

jockc at 11:55 PM : I have a dehydrator but I found myself wondering if I was paying more in electricity to run it than it would cost me to buy.

At 10cents/kw-hour (typical), and 170 Watts for a 20" box fan (Google), it will cost you 170*24/1000*10 = 40 cents a day to run. In my experience, most loads dry in less than a day.

Heated dehydrators will cost somewhat more than that - maybe $1/day as a high estimate?
posted by IAmBroom at 10:23 PM on April 27, 2008

... of course, heated dehydrators take much less time to dry foods, so the price is probably about the same.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:23 PM on April 27, 2008

I grew up in an area that regularly got over 100F (and very dry) in the summer and with free access to an insane amount of fruit. We would make dried fruit/fruit leather using aluminum foil to reflect the sun and some screen material to increase airflow/cover the fruit from flies. I'm sure you could do the same with sweet potatoes. Here's an article about doing it but I'm not sure if the low acidity of sweet potatoes will be a problem. Still, it seems worth a shot, and is entirely solar powered.
posted by aspo at 11:20 PM on April 27, 2008

If you don't want to spring for a dehydrator, you can dry fruits and vegetables on cookie sheets in your car parked in the sun. There's also the traditional method of drying in the sun, but then you need to protect your food from flies, other bugs, animals, and random items that the wind might blow onto it.
posted by yohko at 9:37 AM on April 28, 2008

Great advice. Thanks everyone!
posted by about_time at 5:25 AM on April 29, 2008

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