November 29, 2022
Between yourself and your beloved canine(s), there is little you should leave behind when it comes to what put in the dirt. In terms of the gut pile, edibles exist in the form of the liver, spleen, kidneys, heart, windpipe, and caul fat. If you choose not to turn them into meals for your family, with these steps below, I can guarantee your dog(s) will enjoy chowing down on this offal.
Dogs naturally enjoy organs raw. There’s no need to worry about spices, or even salt, or anything else that might conflict with your dog’s current diet. For purposes of preservation, an Insta Cure #1 is an option (with using 1 teaspoon per 5 pounds), but I don’t think that is necessary as the steps below will keep these prepared organs from spoiling for at least a couple weeks.
The main goal with any organ (excluding caul fat and the windpipe) is to prepare ruby-red meat. In the case of the heart, you want to remove any fat and fascia from the outside then cut it open and remove the chordae tendineae (tendinous cords), also known as heart strings. These inelastic cords of fibrous connective tissue connect the papillary muscles to the tricuspid valve and the mitral valve in the heart and shouldn’t be eaten.
For the kidneys, cut away the outside membrane then butterfly. Remove the internal white renal matter, resulting in two halves of purely reddish protein. (If some membrane remains on outside, not a major deal. The internal renal matter is what you definitely want to discard.) The liver and spleen shouldn’t require much trimming, but I do recommend butterflying. During smoking, we ideally want the organs no thicker than 1 inch.
For the caul fat and windpipe, it might not hurt to soak in a saltwater brine (1/2 cup of kosher salt per gallon of water) for the sole purpose of the brine extracting any residual blood or fluids. One hour of soaking should help. Thoroughly rinse caul fat and windpipe afterwards under cold running water.
SMOKING AND DEHYDRATING ORGANS
The general steps in the recipe below also apply to the spleen, heart, and kidneys. Basically, cut in half, smoke, cut into cubes and dehydrate. Dehydrating organs will preserve them for a couple weeks or longer. The smoke adds that flavor that dogs really love.
When dehydrated properly, organs should keep in the fridge for at least a couple weeks if condensation does not occur. (Fridge is my preferred method for storing.) Freezing will keep these treats fresh for at least a couple years.
For the windpipe, I recommended smoking it for 4 hours at 160 degrees Fahrenheit then giving to your dog. For caul fat, you can wrap that stuff around anything and cook and then give to your dog. Because it is fat, it will oxidize and spoil quicker, so dehydrating doesn’t work as well for this part. Still, caul fat is usable and versatile and capable of being enjoy when cooked to order.
Bones personally make me nervous, as any splinter can be digested and potentially puncture a dog’s stomach. On those rare occasions when I give my dog a bone, it’s fresh from butchering (still moist), and I typically only hand over large bones like a deer’s femur. I also put his e-collar on him and monitor him while he chews. The moment I notice the bone breaking, I take it away. When his e-collar has been off, he’s been less agreeable to this seizure. I will say this: If you’re going to give your dogs bones, please do so when they’re raw or smoked at low temps. Cooked bones are more likely to fracture and in turn create sharp pieces that could harm your dog (and that harm could be fatal).
If you’re one to invest in dog treats, by making your own you’re saving a little bit of cash, though, admittedly, not a ton. A 14-ounce bucket of freeze-dried beef liver can run upwards of $30, potentially more. All told, once smoked and dehydrated, if using the whole gut pile, you’re likely making somewhere between 40 and 50 ounces of treats, which, based on the earlier cost of store-bought beef liver, equates to a little north or south of $100. Still, $100 saved is $100 saved, and perhaps a deposit on a new deer rifle, right? Or maybe just a couple boxes of ammo…
SMOKED LIVER DOG TREATS RECIPE
- Smoking Wood
- Cut liver in half so no piece is thicker than 1 inch.
- Smoke each half at 160 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 hours.
- Remove and dice liver halves into approximate 1-inch-by-1-inch cubes.
- Dehydrate cubes for 6-8 hours at 140 degrees, until mostly dry.
- Let cool before sealing. (You can serve immediately after dehydrating.)
If treats are still even the slightest bit moist, you may want to store in the fridge versus outside or in a cupboard. Any moisture can lead to condensation and lead to spoilage if not stored in cool temps.
Reach out to me on Instagram (@WildGameJack) with any questions or comments.