21

Liver


I thought about taking a nice picture of some fancy liver pâté, cooked liver and onions, or coconut battered fried liver strips. But if you’re going to add liver to your diet and will be preparing it yourself, you might as well see what it really looks like. Pretty isn’t it? 🙂

Why I Eat Liver

Yes liver has a weird taste and texture. If you haven’t grown up with it, learning to enjoy it as an adult is tough. I never tasted liver until I was in my 20s and was quite put off by the flavour the first time I tried it. I noticed how people who didn’t mind the taste had eaten liver when they were younger, while those who had never had liver would refuse to eat more than a bite of it. In my own experience, it took at least 10 tries before I got used to it enough that I could start to enjoy it. Given how nutrient dense liver is, it’s worth it! If you’re at all concerned about toxins in liver, read Nourishing Days’ Liver Q&A: Why Liver is NOT Full of Toxins.

People often ask if they should take a multivitamin while on the SCD, GAPS or Primal diets. Well, the best multivitamin I have found is beef liver. I used to take a multi B vitamin and a general multi vitamin and always got digestive symptoms from them. These were SCD legal quality supplements and I still didn’t do well with them. I was frustrated because I kept reading about how important B vitamins were for energy. Turns out I get way more energy by eating even just a small portion of liver.

I’m not the only crazy one forcing myself to like this food.

For a complete overview of liver and some recipes check out The Liver Files on the Weston A. Price Foundation website.

Nutrients in Liver

This chart shows the Percentage Daily Values for nutrients of various types of liver. I chose the nutrients for cooked (braised) liver in all cases because that’s how I usually end up eating it. Note the amount of B vitamins and iron. This is the food to eat for energy!

Nutrients per 100g Beef Lamb Pork Chicken Turkey
B1 (thiamin) 13% 15% 17% 19% 3%
B2 (riboflavin) 201% 237% 129% 117% 162%
B3 (niacin) 88% 61% 42% 55% 51%
B5 (pantothenic acid) 71% 40% 48% 67% 43%
B6 51% 25% 28% 38% 52%
B9 (folate) 63% 18% 41% 144% 173%
B12 1176% 1275% 311% 281% 970%
A 634% 499% 360% 267% 1507%
C 3% 7% 39% 47% 38%
Iron 36% 46% 100% 65% 59%
Zinc 35% 53% 45% 27% 17%
Copper 714% 354% 32% 25% 17%
Selenium 52% 159% 96% 118% 118%

Values were taken from NutritionData.com.

I used to recommend beef liver to everyone. It’s usually pretty easy to find a good source and it’s cheap. I have been getting all kinds of liver and I have to say it’s nice to have some variation. My favorite so far (yep I have a favorite type!) is lamb’s liver.

Liver is also a source of vitamin K (beef liver), CoQ10 and a high quality source of protein.

How to Eat Liver Raw

Many people believe in extra health benefits of eating liver raw. I have had it raw a few times but I seem to get energy from it raw or cooked. The easiest way I found to eat it raw was to grate a chunk of frozen liver over scrambled eggs, stew, or soup after done cooking. Another method is to cut up fresh or partially thawed liver into small pill size bits, re-freeze it and then swallow them like pills with some water. Raw liver doesn’t have as strong of a flavor as cooked, so I found it pretty easy to eat it grated over other food.

How to Eat Liver Cooked

The first step no matter what recipe you will be making is to soak liver. I soak mine in lemon juice, but you can use any acidic juice such lime or orange. Some people swear by using milk. Soaking liver helps reduce the livery taste and in my opinion also improves the texture. Even if you only have an hour to soak it, it’s worth doing. I usually soak mine for 2-4 hours. Make sure to drain and rinse it well, before continuing to prepare it. If you soak it too long you might notice a slightly sour taste.

Liver Recipes

I’ve got quite a few links to recipes here, so I hope one or two in this list stand out as a good way to try liver. While most recipes specify the type of liver to use, you can substitute with any kind. Beef tends to have a stronger flavor and chicken seems to be the mildest. I like to cut up liver into small pieces when making a meal dish out of it, which makes handling the texture a lot easier.

My favorite way to introduce liver is a pâté because the texture is quite easy to like.  Pâté is really easy to make SCD-legal. If you’re looking for something to eat it on, try slices of cheddar cheese, SCD-legal crackers, or toasted coconut-flour bread.

I now prefer eating liver as a meal and don’t mind the texture so much. It’s also nice not to need a cracker or bread to be able to enjoy it. The following are a few good recipes for liver as a meal.

  • Cheeseslave’s Mexican Liver with Onions can be made with lemon juice and garlic in place of Worcestershire sauce.
  • Health Home Happy has an interesting way of hiding liver in her Superfood Muffins by mixing it with other ground meat.
  • Divine Health enjoys adding liver to taco meat. This is a great way to sneak it in because the strong taco spices, salsa and cheese mask the flavor well. I enjoy taco meat and all the fixings as a salad instead of trying to make a taco shell or wrap for them.
  • Frugality and Crunchiness has an interesting dish Liver and Apple Juice.
  • Happy Belly has a delicious recipe for my favorite, lamb liver, in her How to Make Liver Good post.
  • One of my favorite liver meals is the Fresh Liver on my Liver & Other Organs recipe page.

Now go eat your liver!

Kat

I have been following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet since January 2008 to recover from Celiac disease. As part of the diet, I don't eat grains, sugar or potatoes and prepare all my meals from scratch.

21 Comments

  1. What a great liver post – thanks for the shout out! I didn’t know about soaking – I added that to my post – and I totally agree 100% that learning to like it as a kid is so much easier – 10 times it took you? I don’t know if I could persevere that long if I didn’t know how wonderful it is for me.
    I ground some up raw and froze it in icecube trays and added it to my fruity, kefir smoothie – delicious and you can’t taste the liver at all!

  2. @Christy That’s a great idea, to freeze it already ground up. That would blend well with a smoothie or even stew/soups. It did take 10 times at least, maybe 11, but it is worth it. The pate is much easier to eat, I liked that the first time I tried it. But eating a piece of liver takes a bit more time to get used to.

  3. Hi Kat,
    Thanks for putting this information together. I need new ideas for making liver. I didn’t grow up eating it so I’m not used to the taste. But I do need more sources of B vitamins in my diet and prefer to do it without supplements.
    Thanks for the tip for soaking in lemon juice! I’ve read about people soaking in milk before but I need to keep my liver recipes dairy free (kosher reasons) and it seems all the best recipes use butter and milk. I look forward to trying the recipes you linked to.

  4. I just don’t know if I could do it. But, I had surgery for Crohn’s 10 years ago and I can no longer absorb B12 (didn’t find that out until after the surgery – not that I had a choice anyway I was totally blocked). I give myself a shot once a month.

    I do remember that my mom cooked beef heart every once in a while when I was little. I remember liking it, but I don’t think I could bring myself to buy it.

    But congrats to all of you who have been able to add liver to your diet.

  5. Yay! Liver recipes! 🙂 Thanks for posting this. I have been reading about the benefits of liver for a while now, and finally decided to take the plunge and bought a beef liver yesterday as mentioned on Twitter… I think I will try the pate first 🙂

  6. My goodness, what a thorough and awesome post. You are inspiring me to try beef liver again, i.e., that dry, dusty slab of meat-cardboard my parents tried to force-feed me as a kid. I love meat “parts”, and have especially enjoyed beef tongue the past couple of years (hope to post a recipe soon on the blog), but I have not yet cuddled up with liver. Baby steps!

    (And thanks so much for the link-love! Yea!)

  7. This is perfect timing. My husband just got a deer bow hunting and saved the liver for me. I really had no idea what to do with it so I had him cut it into four pieces and put it in the freezer. I thought about grinding it and adding it to venison meatloaf.

  8. Thank you for this post! This helped me have enough courage to start eating liver. Like you, I have trouble with my iron levels. I have Crohn’s. Anyways, I get my liver from a local farm where the chickens and turkeys are pasture-raised and the farmers treat their animals extremely well.

    I tried the Balthazar Liver Mousse, but the large amount of butter and the mousse texture weren’t so great for my palate. Also, I think I soaked the liver in pure lemon juice for way too long. The liver became sour! Haha.

    This recipe, which I made for the first time last night, is a true winner in my book! It’s from Ina Garten, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised it turned out so well. It’s similar to your link to Bubbe’s Chopped Liver, but without the bread and with herbs added. I used a lot less rendered fat than what Ina called for. Also, I soaked the liver in diluted lemon juice for one hour, and that was plenty of time to remove any bitter taste. Thanks again for such a great post! Your blog rocks!

    Here’s the link to the recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/chopped-liver-recipe/index.html

  9. @Grace You know what? I think sometimes if I soak the liver too long it does get sour! Most of the time I’m making it after work, so I only soak it 1 hour and that works well. Glad you liked the chopped liver, that was similar to my first recipe I ever tried with it.

  10. I’ve eaten liver my whole life, via forcefeeding from my dad, who cooked it (I should say overcooked it) with nothing more than some canola oil.

    But, my god, the pate that I just made, based on the recipe above, was the best damn liver I ever ate. Had to share that. I used an olive oil/butter combo as the fat base, though. Only difference.

  11. I love the idea of liver soaked in milk and then prepared but since I am a one person househoild, I want to freeze the excess–should I freeze it after coating with flour before cooking or after?

  12. @Kevin – Paleo Playbook I haven’t tried using olive oil in pate, I can imagine the flavour helps mask the livery taste a bit though. Glad you liked it!

    @mildred goodman I freeze liver either raw and unsoaked, or fully cooked as pate. I don’t think freezing liver with a coating would work, it’ll end up very soggy once thawed.

  13. I guess I’m just weird, louver has always been a special treat between my grandmother and me and I love liver. My 8 year old is hooked on it now too. Never tried to make it myself though but got some great info from your site and am now going to try and make my own.

  14. Hi Kat,

    I had a question: how often is it okay to eat liver and what quantity? I’m just about to start the SCD. Thank you for keeping this wonderful site.

    • Hi! I found it worked for me to eat about 4 ounces a week, usually an ounce or two for a few days in a row. It wasn’t my favorite food taste-wise so I didn’t force myself to eat too much. A little bit each week offered plenty of extra nutrients I wasn’t getting from other foods. If you like it, eating 6-8 ounces a week would be fine. My preference to this day is the pâté.

      • Thanks Kat, that’s very helpful. I’ve just started on the liver regiment. Happy 2014!

  15. Thanks, Kat!! I hope you’ll enjoy reading my two blog posts on eating organ meat too! We’re out of lemon juice and will try soaking the liver in a mild citric acid solution tonight. It’s marinating right now. I love being able to see what others are doing and to learn from each other and hopefully all of us will find healing! Best to you!!

  16. Hi Kat, would you have any ideas of where to find organic liver? I don’t care what kind of animal it is. I just can’t seem to find organic liver anywhere, even at the health food stores here. Would you still recommend eating it if it’s not organic? Thanks!

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