Gently cooked food made using the sous vide method is a healthy option for dogs and cats. And it’s growing in popularity.
Dog and cat parents have more choices than ever before when it comes to deciding what to feed their animal companions. One of the newer dietary options on the pet food market is sous vide, a method that involves gently cooking the food. It offers the convenience of prepared foods with some of the benefits of raw diets.
What Is Gently Cooked Food?
When you gently cook food, you heat it only to the temperature required to kill food-borne pathogens like E. coli or Salmonella. Gently cooked foods are safe to eat and full of nutrients, flavor, and moisture.
The process starts with real foods, which are then gently cooked at temperatures between 130 and 175℉, depending on how rare you want the food.
The Sous Vide Method
You can gently cook food using just about any cooking method, including sautéing, baking, poaching, and steaming, but one of the best is sous vide.
The sous vide method is an excellent choice for gentle cooking because it allows you to heat food to a very precise temperature. With sous vide, you put fresh food into a vacuum-sealed bag and cook it in water. A special device heats the water and keeps it at a constant temperature. That means you can’t overcook the food, no matter how long it stays in the water.
The sous vide method was originally used in upscale restaurants, but these days, it has been adopted by all types of restaurants, as well as individuals who use it to cook for themselves and their animal companions.
Common Ingredients in Gently Cooked Prepared Pet Foods
While you can cook sous vide meals for your dog or cat at home, you can also purchase prepared gently cooked pet foods that are both convenient and nutritious. Common ingredients found in these foods include:
- Whole meats
A wide assortment of ingredients will provide your dog or cat with a well-balanced diet. For example, fish is a great source of vitamin D, but doesn’t contain fiber. Fruits such as blueberries provide fiber and antioxidants. The recipe may also contain grains, which are sometimes pre-cooked to improve digestibility and reduce the chances of digestive upset.
Gently Cooked Food Compared to Other Diets
A growing number of animal parents want to try fresher, less processed meal options for their dogs and cats. If you want to switch pet foods but are concerned about the risks associated with handling raw meat, then gently cooked food is a unique option to consider.
Gently cooked pet food combines some of the best aspects of kibble, canned food, and raw diets: it’s safe, can be stored for long periods, and is fresh and wholesome.
Extrusion and canning have been used for decades to produce convenient and safe products for humans and animals. For example, many popular snacks and cereals are created using extrusion, while canned soups and vegetables are staples found in nearly every grocery store. Canned or extruded foods are heated to a high enough temperature to kill pathogens, but they’re also shelf-stable for long periods.
Gently cooked foods aren’t shelf-stable, but you can refrigerate or freeze them to make them last longer. John Leveris explains that “gently cooked food is typically stored and sold as frozen and has a six- to nine-month freezer shelf life.”
This type of food is also safe because pathogens are killed during the gentle heating process, and is easier for animals to digest. While raw diets can be a great option for many dogs, they may not work for others. “Many animals have digestive problems and upset when fed an all-raw diet,” says John. “A gentle cooking process makes the digestion of meats, fruits and vegetables easier.”
Feeding Your Dog or Cat Gently Cooked Food
Several companies offer gently cooked meals for purchase, and some even offer subscription services with hassle-free delivery. The frozen, prepared meals are simply thawed in the refrigerator and then fed to your dog or cat. “Thawed product should be kept refrigerated and used within five to seven days,” says John.
Ambitious at-home chefs can buy sous vide cookers starting at around $50. You can also prepare sous vide food by using a pressure cooker.
Gently cooked sous vide food can be a practical alternative to kibble, canned food, and raw diets. Whether your dog or cat is struggling with weight issues, allergies, or digestive upsets, gently cooked food provides a customizable and chef-inspired alternative that’s sure to make his mouth water!