Are you a new dog parent and been googling a solution to your dog chewing up your favorite shoe? Or the edges of that furniture you so desperately want to preserve?
Or are you a seasoned dog owner exploring new dog treats to give to your dog?
If you fall into any of these groups or anywhere in between, you must have come across a product called yak cheese dog chew during your internet surfing. You might even be reading this blog because you recognize our product, Tibetan Dog Chews.
If you are familiar with this kind of dog treat, you might know a few details about how they are made. But what you might not know is the entire process, from start to finish, in excruciating detail.
We, Mount Tibet Corporation, have been manufacturing dog chews for a decade. We know quite a bit about how yak cheese dog chews, or as they are known in Nepal, Chhurpis, are made.
So here is the journey our Tibetan Dog Chews go through.
The Ingredients in Tibetan Dog Chew
It all starts with milk, the main ingredient in our chew sticks.
We collect milk from farmers all over Nepal's higher-altitude hilly and mountainous regions, especially in the district of Ilam. The milk we collect is mainly of Nak (female Yak) and Chhauri (a cross between Yak and local cow).
Why Yak milk is special
This milk is thicker and more delicious than regular cow or buffalo milk because of one thing — the special grass the chhauri graze on.
Yaks in the Himalayan region of Nepal.
The chhauri in this area graze on 'buggi,' a unique kind of grass that only grows at an altitude of 3,500 to 4,000 meters. Grazing on this nutrient-rich grass allows chhauri to maintain weight even in the harshest winters.
The farmers here raise their chhauri and graze them in these numbingly cold pastures for several months each year. They live with their cattle and do not see their families for months on end.
The Centuries-Old Preparation Method
After the milk collection is complete, it is time to pasteurize them. This is where the centuries-old traditional Tibetan method of preparing yak chews begins.
Boiling and coagulation
The collected milk is boiled at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 minutes to one hour. This constant heat separates the cream and the fat from the milk.
The cream and fat are separated upon completion, and the remaining milk is used for making our dog chews.
After cooling down, the skimmed milk is boiled again, but this time, a bit of whey is added to the milk. Lime and salt are also added.
Whey and lime help coagulate the milk, whereas salt helps quicken the process and preserve the milk. Salt reduces water activity in milk, which in turn helps microbial growth and promotes preservation and safety. It also positively affects the flavor, aroma, and texture of the dog chews.
With these additions and a slow stir, cheese curds start showing up almost immediately. The solid chunks of cheese are then strained out and collected in cotton bags.
Shaping and Texture
This is where the dog chews start taking their shape. The bags of cheese are piled up and put under heavy blocks for about 24 hours to squeeze out excess moisture. They solidify quickly with almost all the water squeezed out.
These dried cheese blocks are then left to ferment, further enhancing the treats' flavor. They are also turned over a couple of times and left to dry for 15-20 days.
Immediate drying prevents mold and other kinds of fungus development.
Ripening and Smoking the Chews
The final step in preparing our cheese treats is the ripening or aging of the chews.
After fermentation, the big blocks of dog chews are cut into various smaller sizes. Tibetan Dog Chews are cut into five different sizes — Small, Medium, Large, Extra Large, and Jumbo.
Then, the sticks are smoked or ripened on grills at around 95 degrees Fahrenheit to get the desired hardness, texture, and aroma.
The flavor and aroma of the chews depend on how long they are smoked and dried. They are smoked for anywhere between 12 days to three months.
The more you smoke these cheese sticks, the better the flavor gets and the less moisture it has. After smoking, the products are further dried at room temperature for around a month.
On average, a yak milk cheese stick has maximum 14% moisture, over 50% protein, and only 0.9% crude fat.
The low fat and high protein content are what make Tibetan Dog Chews a healthy treat for your dog to chew.
The Final Stages - Export and Packaging
After going through this process, our yak chews are ready for export and packaging. The first step in this is to bring them to our warehouses.
There, they are inspected for quality, sorted according to size, and imported to the US.
A dog enjoying Tibetan Dog Chew
Upon arriving in the US, the chews are put through another round of quality checks and packaged in our well-liked packaging. After this, it is just a matter of you ordering these for your pooch to enjoy.
Shrestha S R, Pradhananga M L, Das S K L. Utilization of milk by-product (Buttermilk) in the preparation of Chhurpi and its quality evaluation. STCJ 2015;2(1):1-6
National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), Study on Market Promotion and Branding of Yak Cheese and Chhurpi for Export, RFP No.: NDDB/C/RFP/2078/079/02
Sharma, Khanal, Pradhan & Bansal, Cheese: Importance and Introduction to Basic Technologies, J. Food Sci. Technol. Nepal, Vol. 11(14 - 24), 2019