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Asked on 20.11.2021.

How to improve a recipe for biscuits for dogs and their shelf-life?

Dear Experts,

I am an artisan creating biscuits for dogs (treats) and I am experimenting some recipes.

The plan is to scale up and improve the shelf-life of the products (target set to 12 months) by using adequate Doypack with sealing.

Today, I use a classic oven (convection with fan) and a standard kenwood mixer, when scaling up, I am planning to use a rotary moulder and a rack oven.

I only use organic products and because the biscuits are for dogs, I need limited the sugar.

And I am struggling with the following problems that your expert eyes could probably clarify.

1. Amount of water needed in recipes

To be able to work the dough , I need to add a lot of water... much more of what I see in some formulas.

I already planned to run Moisture and Aw tests with a lab ... but I need some advices before to make sure I am on the good track.

2. Dough consistency when using few/no fat

How to work with dough without sugar/fat ?

3. Time for baking

It seems long to me > 20 minutes


In Baker percentage 

Shapes : Ovale with 38mm long and 30mm width and an height of 6mm

For the mixing, I first mix the dry ingredients (oat flour , spices, coconut shredded...)

The I mix with liquid (not water) like peanut butter, banana ... for 1 minute

I finally add water and mix for 2 minutes

I let the dough rest for 1 minute.

Recipe 1:

Oat Flour : 100

Peanut Butter 35

Banana (Mixed in puree) : 20

Water : 45 (ml)

Temperature of Oven : 180°C (350°F)

Duration : 21 Minutes

I would like to keep this recipe as simple as possible (with less ingredients).

The problem faced is the biscuit is crumbling when you press it with my fingers.

What do you think about proportion ?

What about quantity of water ?

Recipe 2:

Oat Flour : 100

Banana (Mixed in puree) : 28

Coconut shredded : 10

turmeric powder : 1

Vanilla extract : 1 (ml)

Water : 55 (ml)

In this recipe, I don't use Fat and the dough is difficult to work, the reason water must be added.

Temperature of Oven : 180°C (350°F)

Duration : 23 Minutes

Below the duration of 23 minutes, the biscuits is unbaked in the center.

What do you think in general of not using Fat ?

I was thinking about adding coconut oil ?

What do you think about proportion ?

What about the quantity of water ?

Do you think the shelf life of 12 months is reachable using preservative ? 

Any advice or comment please ?
Don't hesitate to challenge me please.

Thank you

Accepted answer
Answered on 23.11.2021.

Dear Geoffroy,

In answer to your questions I have the following comments:

Biscuit doughs such as crackers contain little or no fat but dough cohesiveness is achieved by use of water to hydrate the proteins in the flour and form gluten. Oat flour doesn't contain gluten so doesn't form cohesive doughs like wheat based doughs. Oats do contain Beta Glucans which when hydrated form a gummy gel but it doesn't have elastic properties like gluten

I would persevere with fats rather than Coconut Oil as fats will help the dough hold together during forming, oils wont

In doughs water is added as a processing aid and the amount needed is determined by the hydration properties of the ingredients in the recipe with the objective of producing a machinable dough. The water is normally lost during baking,

In terms of shelf life, if you bake the products to moisture contents of 3% or less a 12 month shelf is easily achievable (yeasts and moulds wont grow at these moisture levels) , however rancidity may start earlier due to the Oats. Looking at the recipes unless the moisture content is low you wont be able to rely on water activity as a shelf life control mechanism as you have no little or no sugar in the products. You would also need to check if preservatives are allowed in dog food.

Andrew Hughes

Answered on 26.11.2021.

Dear Geoffroy

You need either water or oil to form a dough.  As oats absorb more water to form a dough.    So you need to add water.  

Secondly removing water content from the recipe you have shown is little difficult as water is internal part of Banana.  So when you bake it removing water from forced convection without proper circulating system may be difficult.

As our colleague told 2 to 3% moisture level is good for 12months if you select the packing materials with BOPP and Met pet or met cost pp at least with 30micron.  Otherwise it will get spoiled.  

Answered on 25.11.2021.

Thank you Andrew. 

I was thinking of using Citric Acide, Rosemary extract or Mixed Tocopherols depending on the recipe where the biscuit is less crunchy. 

One of my main concern was about the quantity of water needed to hydrate the Oat flour and the fact that some recipes don't include fats. 

Do you think that 6% of moisture can lead to a shelf life of 12 months ? 

I am not sure to reach 3% with the oven I have today. 

Best Regards

Answered on 26.11.2021.

Dear Geoffroy

Both mould growth and rancidity increase with higher moisture contents.

At 6% moisture the biscuits wont grow moulds but rancidity will increase versus biscuits at 3% . Even if you have little or no fat in the recipe the natural fat present in the Oat flour will start to break down causing unpleasant flavours. This is caused by enzymes present in the oats, however If you source " Stabilised" oats the enzyme activity is reduced and shelf life improved,

Another method of reducing rancidity is to pack  in Nitrogen rather than Air which is what snack food manufacturers do.

Its worth carrying out some storage tests on your product to establish the shelf life 

This question is resolved.
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