12/15/2005: "first batch"
Batch one of my kibble is both a wild, rousing success and a failure. I learned a lot from it, and it turned out as well or better than I had hoped it would in some ways. However, I definitely need to go back and both reformulate and reconsider my process.
Yesterday I spent time drying the batch out. It's still not fully crunchy, which is probably a good thing at this point. I think if it did get completely dry that it might actually become inedible, or at least impossible to chew without risking chipping a tooth. My drying method may be at fault, but at the same time I may have to rethink how I'm using yeast, and perhaps next time actually activate the yeast, allow for some rise time, and then bake it.
On the taste side, this batch is also a loss and a win. I'm going to get more opinions, but the early opinions are that the taste needs work. I liked it at first, as it was just barely sweet, which is what I was going for. Another opinion was that there was far too much tomato taste (from tomato paste), and that I would have more luck adding spices and going for the pizza taste. So perhaps I've found a weird middle ground between sweet and savoury, which would kind of be cool, as I'll be able to use the same base formulation to get both my sweet and my savoury flavours.
But if I'm going to be honest with myself, the taste does not entice me to eat more. As I type this I'm thinking of having some, but it's not appealing to me. Right there, that proves that this formulation isn't a winner. Dogs and cats have no choice about the kibble they eat (and probably get used to the taste), but humans certainly have choice, so I have to make sure that my kibble is tasty enough to stay at or near the top of my target market's preference list.
I still have the bulk of the first batch. I've only been nibbling at it here and there, and will allow others to try it over the next couple weeks. (I'll also see how it keeps at room temperature.) I think the group of ingredients I'm using is good, I'll just have to play with the proportions. I may also have to rethink my protein balance - while there is a complete protein available, it's definitely skewed. I'll see if I can address that without having to totally rethink the base ingredients.
Meanwhile, I'll likely go back and alter the formulation with a better taste in mind, and possibly add in some spices this time. Apart from that I'm going to have to put more technique into how I'm actually making the next batch, as it seems to have as much - if not more - bearing on how it turns out than the ingredients do. Eventually I'll have to figure out how to make proper kibble shapes as well. Perhaps an old waffle iron and some custom plates will work... I'll have to do some form-factor brainstorming.
I figured this would be a learning curve. One step at a time, and eventually I'll reach the plateau. (And when I do I'll have some yummy kibble to nosh on!) Considering I don't have an abject failure my first time around, I'm encouraged, but there's still a ways to go.