Homemade Yak Chew For Dogs Recipe - Canine Compilation
Homemade YAK CHEW for dogs with optional cranberries - recipe

Homemade Yak Chew For Dogs Recipe

MAKE THIS SUPER HEALTHY, TOP-SELLING DOG CHEW AT HOME WITH JUST 2 INGREDIENTS: HERE’S HOW

Yak chew for dogs with ground cranberry pieces

So what is a chhurpi yak chew for dogs made of? It is essentially nothing more than a hard cheese chew. I always used to think it was ‘Chirpy’, you know, as in, “he’s chirpy, he must be happy!’ So whilst my spelling was wrong, the emotion is spot on – dog’s LOVE this chew. You can make your dog super happy and chirpy with a homemade Chhurpi Cheese Himalayan dog chew too!

By the way, ‘chhurpi’ is simply the name of the traditional cheese made in the Himalayas.

WHAT IF I CAN’T FIND YAK MILK?

Luckily, you can make this chew from any animal milk, not just yaks. You can use lactose-free, full-cream, skimmed, low fat… yak, cow, sheep or goat milk. What you can’t use is almond or soy milk, as they contain no casein and they won’t separate out into a solid base for the chew.

The milk you do choose will affect the final chew. Essentially, the higher the fat content, the softer or crumblier the chew will be.

I made the chews in these photos from goat’s milk. Pure goat’s milk cheese is always white, so don’t worry if your chews are more yellow – only goat’s cheese chews will be white.

HOW TO MAKE A SOFTER OR HARDER YAK CHEW

What kind of chew does your dog need? Does she have oral health problems, broken teeth or sore gums? Then a softer chew would suit her better. To make the chews softer, go for a high fat content, full-cream milk.

On the other hand, if your pup loves to gnaw away at challenging chews, and he has nice strong teeth, choose a skimmed, low fat milk that will make a super tough, strong and hard yak chew.

thumb image making a snuffle mat guide

YAK CHEW FOR DOGS, VERSION 2.0

This IS NOT difficult to make. It is also much cheaper to make it than to buy it. Not only that, but I’ve been experimenting with adding ‘other things’. The yak chew in itself is great, but why settle for great if you can have fantastic?

Having a professional dog treat business means that I’m always on the look out for ways to make treats even better, nutritionally speaking. So how about we make a treat with some added goodness?

CAN DOGS EAT CRANBERRIES?

Cranberries are full of goodness and they are great for dogs. Packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, they can help with a whole host of health issues.

Initially I added some whole, dried cranberries to the curds, but I soon realised they would complicate the process of cutting the block into slices as they were a little big. Also, the cheese dries fast around the whole berries and cracks. Still, they made lovely, tough little chews that my dogs really enjoyed! They didn’t care about the dark stain produced by the cranberries either!

Yak chews with whole cranberries
Yak chews with whole cranberries

By blitzing the dried cranberries in a processor first, I got nice little pieces of cranberry that blended into the cheese better.

Another option is to sprinkle some kelp into the curds before you dry them.

If you want just the standard yak chew for dogs, there’s no need to add cranberries or kelp. I just like to make the most of any situation.

YIELD: HOW MUCH MILK DO I NEED?

How much yak chew do you get from a gallon of milk? I warn you now: don’t be disappointed by the amount of chews that result from a quart or litre of milk.

Since milk is mostly water, by the time the water has drained away, you’ll be left with just the solids – less than 15% of what you started with. However, when you consider how much it would cost you to buy the same size yak chew in a shop, you are saving lots of money by making it yourself.

If you use buttermilk to make the chews, you will get a slightly better yield. The chews in the image above are from 1 litre / quart of goat’s milk and 300ml (a little over 1 cup) of buttermilk.

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HOW TO MAKE A CHHURPI CHEESE YAK DOG CHEW

You might be wondering, just how are yak chews made? It’s a simple process, with very few ingredients (only 2, essentially). It’s quick to prepare, but needs a long time to dry properly.

Just like making any other cheese, first you need to separate the curds (solids) from the whey (liquid) to get the cheese.

SEPARATING THE CURDS (SOLIDS) FROM THE WHEY (LIQUID)

Years ago, I used to have a goat dairy, and I made halloumi cheese. Back then, I used rennet to curdle the milk and separate the curds from the whey. I don’t have rennet in my pantry now though, so instead I can use lime or lemon juice, or white vinegar, or buttermilk, to separate the curds from the whey.

It’s the acid in these ingredients which curdles the milk, so if you’re going to use vinegar, you need to use the right kind of vinegar. Some vinegars have a really low acidity content, so you’d need to add a lot of vinegar to the milk to get it to curdle.

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White vinegar is the strongest vinegar around. It’s also a really effective cleaning product, as well as a great no-chemical weed killer, so a bottle of this in your cupboard is a pretty useful thing to have. If you want to avoid harmful chemical cleaners – which can have a nasty negative effect on your dog’s (and your) health – cleaning with vinegar is a great idea.

If you plan to use lime or lemon juice, lime is more efficient as it has a slightly higher acid content than lemons – about 6% for limes, compared to 4.5% for lemons. Personally, I’ve also had better results with lime than lemon juice.

Using buttermilk produces a slightly higher quantity of curds.

WHAT DO I NEED TO MAKE DOG YAK CHEWS?

Equipment wise, you will need:

  • saucepan
  • strainer / colander
  • a cloth – cheese cloth / muslin / old, clean tea towel
  • baking tray (to collect the run-off liquid during drying)
  • 2 plates or a cheese /tofu mold (you can buy these cheaply, or see below for how to make your own yak chew mold)

HOW TO MAKE A MOLD FOR HIMALAYAN DOG YAK CHEWS

In cheese making we use molds. I no longer have any molds from my cheese-making days, but it’s really easy to make one. You just need 2 square or rectangular plastic tubs. You could recycle used cream cheese tubs, or even food containers. They just need to be exactly the same size and one has to fit inside the other.

With a small drill bit, drill drainage holes in the base of one of the tubs. Make sure there are no plastic bits that will come off into the food and wash the tub. That’s it! The tub with the holes in it is the actual mold. Once you’ve added the curds, the other tub allows you to put pressure on the curds in the mold.

Drill drainage holes in the base of the tub to make a mold
Drill drainage holes in the base of the tub to make a mold
Drainage holes in the base of the tub-mold
Drainage holes in the base of the tub-mold
Put other tub into mold and apply pressure - this works as a press
Put the second tub into the mold – this works as a press

STEP-BY-STEP RECIPE: HOW TO MAKE YAK MILK CHEWS FOR DOGS (HIMALAYAN YAK CHEW)

This recipe will make approximately 4 or 5 thin dog chews. If you want longer, or thicker chews, simply scale up the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 litre / quart milk
  • 300ml (1 1/4 cups) buttermilk OR 50ml lime juice OR 100ml lemon juice OR white vinegar OR rennet.
  • 1 tsp finely chopped dried cranberries (optional)
  • half teaspoon salt (optional)

Instructions

  • Step 1. Put the milk in a pan and heat it on a medium heat, stirring to prevent the milk from burning on the bottom of the pan
  • Step 2. Bring the milk to the boil and take it off the heat
  • Step 3. Add the buttermilk / lime juice / lemon juice / white vinegar / rennet, and salt if using it. Stir in.
  • Step 4. You will see the milk separate into creamy white solids and a transparent, watery liquid
Put the milk in the pan and heat to almost boiling
Steps 1-2. Put the milk in the pan and heat to almost boiling
Add whatever you're using to curdle the milk
Step 3. Add whatever you’re using to curdle the milk
curdled milk
Step 4. Curdled milk – the white curds are at the bottom of the pan, the yellowy whey floats to the top
  • Step 5. To strain the curds from the whey, pop the cloth over the strainer and ladle the curds in. Do this over another pan or bowl – don’t throw away the remaining liquid (whey)! Here are lots of great ideas for what to do with it.
    If you use buttermilk, the curds will be finer, less clumpy. In that case, let the curds and whey cool down for 3-5 minutes after separation, to help the curds cling together better. If they don’t go clumpy, but stay fine, pour the contents of the pan into the strainer and the whey will gradually drip through the cloth to the pan below.
  • Step 6. Once it’s cool enough, lift the four corners of the cheesecloth, gathering them together. Gently twist and squeeze the gathered cloth to press out any excess whey – remember not to throw it away. You should be left with just watery whey in the pan now.
Ladle the curds into the strainer with the cloth in it
Step 5. Ladle the curds into the strainer with the cloth in it
Tip curds and whey into strainer and let the whey drip out
Step 5. Tip curds and whey into strainer if curds are too fine to ladle and let the whey drip out
Gather the corners of the cloth, twist and squeeze out excess whey
Step 6. Gather the corners of the cloth, twist and squeeze out excess whey
  • Step 7
    • Step 7A. If you’re using a mold, put the curds into the mold. If your curds are very fine, don’t remove them from the cloth – just put the cloth along with the curds in it straight into the mold and smooth the cloth out well to get a flat bottom in the mold. If you plan to use them, add cranberries or kelp now, sprinkled into the curds. Put the other (empty) mold (or lid if you’re using a tofu mold) on top so it squishes down onto the top of the curds. Put this on top of a grill or rack, in the baking tray. The grill / rack allows excess liquid to drip out of the bottom of the mold. The baking tray is so you don’t end up with a puddle of whey on your counter top.
    • Step 7B. If not using a mold, once you’ve squeezed out the excess whey, fold the cloth with the curds in it into a neat-ish rectangle. If you plan to use them, add cranberries or kelp now, sprinkled into the curds. Put an upturned plate in the baking tray. The plate has to be upturned so that the remaining liquid can drain away. Do NOT use a plate with a raised lip running around its base – the lip prevents the liquid runoff. You don’t want the curds sitting in liquid. The baking tray is so you don’t end up with a puddle of whey on your counter top. Put the cloth with the curds on top of the upturned plate and put another plate on top of the cloth/curds.
  • Step 8. Put some heavy things such as books on top – the weight will squeeze out any remaining whey from the curds. The more pressure the better!
Put the cloth neatly into the base of the mold and roughly spread out the curds
Step 7A. Put the cloth neatly into the base of the mold and roughly spread out the curds
I use this small rack to allow excess whey to drip away freely while pressing the curds
Step 7A. I use this small rack to allow excess whey to drip away freely while pressing the curds
Add weight - books- on top of the mold to apply pressure and press out remaining whey
Step 8. Add weight – e.g. books – on top of the mold to apply pressure and press out remaining whey
DO NOT use an upturned plate with a lip - the excess whey won't be able to drip off the plate
Step 7B. DO NOT use an upturned plate with a lip on its base – the excess whey won’t be able to drip off the plate
Pat the curds into a neat-ish rectangle
Step 7B. Pat the curds into a neat-ish rectangle, on top of the upturned plate
Add 2nd plate on top of curds, then add weight to press down
Step 8. Add second plate on top of curds, then add weight (books) to press down
  • Step 9. Check the curds from time to time to see when they have compacted and dried enough. The time it takes will depend on the weight you’ve added and the humidity and temperature of the room. If it’s going really slowly, add more weight. Don’t let the curds dry out so much though that they’re too hard to slice in the next step.
  • Step 10. Once the curds are nicely compacted and hard (ideally they need to hold their own shape and not break easily with handling), cut them into slices. Don’t slice them too thin – they will shrink a little bit during the drying step coming up next.
After the moisture has been squished out, cut into slices
Step 10. After the moisture has been squished out, cut into slices
Put the slices on a rack to dry them
Step 11. Put the slices on a rack to dry them, either in the oven or dehydrator
yak chews dehydrating
Step 11. Check the yak chews from time to time while they are dehydrating. Turn if necessary
  • Step 11. Dry or dehydrate the chews. There are several ways to do this.
    • Either, poke a hole through the top of each chew and hang them to dry – this process takes days
    • or dehydrate them in a dehydrator. I dried them at 65degC / 150degF. Be careful that too high a heat will burn the chews so keep the heat low. Check them and turn occasionally if necessary
    • or dry them in the oven on a low heat (the lowest your oven will go) for 12-18hrs. Be careful that too high a heat will burn the chews. Check them and turn occasionally if necessary

Don’t expect your homemade yak chews to be quite as hard, or as perfect in shape, as a store-bought yak chew.

HOW DO YOU SOFTEN YAK CHEWS?

To soften a yak chew that is too tough, you can heat it in a microwave.

HOW LONG DO YOU MICROWAVE A HIMALAYAN DOG CHEW?

Once your dog has had a good old chomp, you might be concerned that he will just gulp down the final piece of yak chew. To avoid this, you can turn this last piece into a yummy popcorn style cheesy treat for your dog by popping it in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. Let it cool properly and you have an extra treat!

This is a rather long, but informative and entertaining video on how to make Himalayan yak milk dog chews.

CONCLUSION

This yak chew for dogs recipe has only 2 essential ingredients and it’s not complicated to make. It takes a little while to dry out, but once it’s finished, you’ll have a fantastic Himalayan dog chew for a fraction of the store price, plus your dog will adore you for it!

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DIY Yak Chew for dogs, with cranberries - photo recipe
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