Dried pig ears are a favourite treat for many pets. While the ears can give your pet hours of enjoyment, the treats can be expensive to buy. Many manufacturers also use additives to preserve the ears. If you want a natural, cost-effective way to satisfy your pet, dry raw pig ears at home. The homemade treats are easy to make.
Obtain fresh, whole pig ears from a butcher or local slaughterhouse. Pig ears are generally a little less expensive if bought directly from slaughterhouses. The ears will need a good cleaning in preparation for the drying process. Raw pig ears also may come covered in fine hair. Blanching in boiling water for 30 seconds and then submerging in ice water will help to remove the hair. This blanching also will soften the top layer of skin so you can scrape it off along with the hair. The pig ears, however, will make fine pet treats even if you choose to skip the blanching and leave the fine hair intact.
Before drying pig ear treats, you can slice the pig ears into strips, cut them into small squares or leave them whole. The smaller the pieces are, however, the faster they will dry. For whole pig ears, allow for extra drying time. Dehydrating is a convenient way to finish your pig ears. When you arrange the pieces in the dehydrator rack, make sure the edges are not touching. For strips and smaller pieces, it will take approximately 24 hours to dry. Whole ears can take up to three days depending on the thickness.
An oven also may be used to dry pig ears. Arrange the ears on a baking tray so the edges are not touching. Dry them in a 175-degree oven for two hours. Whole pig ears may take up to five hours to dry in the oven. Test for doneness by trying to bend the pieces. A fully dried pig ear is hard and difficult to flex.
Store dried pig ears in a paper sack for up to six months. It is not a good idea to store them in plastic as plastic holds in moisture. Moisture will soften the pig ears and could cause them to mould or spoil. Dried pig ears can be stored indefinably by wrapping them in paper and freezing.