Dessicated Liver Pills
Quality grass-fed liver is filled with vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids…have you ever considered taking them?
ross! No way, no how, not ever! There’s no way you’re getting me to eat liver! But what about taking tasteless liver pills?
If the idea of cooking and eating liver grosses you out, you’re not alone. Consuming liver and onions seems to be something our parents and grandparents did, but not this generation. No way! Although I do remember my “requested birthday dinner” was always giblets and gravy. Does that make me weird?
It may be time for us all to “get over it” and give these traditional foods a second go-around. They’re only “gross” because they’re not the norm. I can only imagine if we’d never eaten a chicken nugget, what we would think when offered one? It’s true that organ meats can have a strong flavor, and textures we’re not used to, but it’s also true that once you incorporate these foods into your diet on a regular basis, you may actually begin to crave them!
A bit of research is necessary to learn how to properly handle/cook these foods, information our great-grandparent’s cookbooks would have been full of. But this is nothing a quick Google search can’t remedy! (What did we do before Google?)
I hit the organ meat jackpot when I stumbled upon this video, which led me to Chris Cosentino’s website, Offal Good…go check it out! As newbie hunters ourselves, Jason and I are quickly realizing the value of utilizing the entire animal, not just the meat, leaving behind as little waste as possible. You could say we’re “goin’ old-school!” (Although I haven’t been brave enough to utilize the blood…yet? GULP! I’ll letchya know!)
Organ meats, also known as “offal” (meaning “off fall”, or the parts of the animal that would literally fall off the animal while butchering), consist of the heart, liver, kidneys, sweetbreads (thymus gland or pancreas), lungs and all other abdominal organs. Offal can also refer to the tail, feet, tongue, brains and “rocky mountain oysters” (aka, the testicles). If you can get your hands on some tongue, try out our “Tacos de Lengua” recipe!
If I have managed to thoroughly gross you out, but haven’t convinced you yet, let me lay out a few facts about organ meats to try and sway you. Sally Fallon explains that “Organ meats are extremely rich in fat-soluble vitamins A and D, as well as essential fatty acids, important very-long-chain super-unsaturated fatty acids and the whole gamut of macro and trace minerals. Wild animals eat the organs of their kill first, thus showing a wisdom superior to our own.” Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon (page 299).
The liver and kidney contain the highest amounts of available vitamin B12. A vitamin that can be stored in our bodies from 2-5 years, but when depleted, can lead to a whole slew of health issues, some of which include dementia, weakness/fatigue, anemia, sleeping disorders, easy bruising, incontinence and memory loss. “Nervous system, reproductive, and digestive problems such as depression, tingling hands/feet, stomach upset, constipation (or diarrhea), and infertility are also warning signs of low B12 status.” Sarah Pope, Healthy Home Economist.
And one more goodie is this article on the Weston A. Price Foundation website. Be sure to read about the “Anti-Fatigue Factor” and the study done on the rats! It’s fascinating!
It needs to be mentioned that not all organ meats are created equal. It’s extremely important to source organs from organic, pasture-raised animals that have not been fed GMO feed, or feed containing soy products. Buying organic meat will ensure the animal has not been treated with steroids or antibiotics (which are stored in the animal meat/fat and consumed by us…bad news!). If you have access to wild game, then you’re in luck! I consider wild game “better than organic” as these animals have foraged for their food the way they were created to, resulting in the healthiest meat/organs available.
And finally, if you’re still not convinced your gag-reflex will allow you to consume these foods (but know their benefits are essential to optimal health), you’re in luck. You can purchase high quality, grass-fed liver capsules or easily make them yourself for a fraction of the price! (See instructions below.)
Dessicated Liver Capsules
To Make: Once you have obtained good quality liver, you’ll want to freeze it for a minimum of 14 days to kill off any pathogens. Once frozen, defrost slightly and slice into 1/4-3/8″ thick slices (if obtaining from a butcher, you can request your liver be pre-sliced, saving you some work).
Step 1: Defrost 1 pound of liver and rinse thoroughly in a colander with cold water. You’re wanting to rinse away as much remaining blood as possible (be sure to check any nooks and crannies, rinsing extremely well). I actually rinsed mine, refrigerated overnight and rinsed again the next morning.
Step 2: Cut or gently tear away any tissue, valves or outer covering remaining on the liver (although some butcher’s are quite thorough, sometimes areas are missed and these can be difficult to grind once dehydrated).
Step 3: Arrange your liver slices on dehydrator trays and dehydrate at 150℉ until completely dry. It is possible to dehydrate in your oven if you don’t have a dehydrator, but the process is lengthy. If you’re not comfortable running your oven overnight, or while you’re away from home, you can always dehydrate for a solid 8-12 hours, then turn your oven off, leaving your liver inside, and continue dehydrating the next morning or when you return home. If using your oven for this step, turn your oven to it’s lowest temp (usually 170℉) and prop it open with a wooden spoon (but do be careful if you have littles running around! We don’t want burns!).
Step 4: After 16 hours, flip your liver over and continue dehydrating. If your liver was very thin, you can test the dryness by bending a piece in half. When it’s completely dry, it should “snap” in half when you bend it. If it bends but does not snap, it needs to dehydrate longer. You don’t want any moisture left in the liver as this can cause the liver to spoil. I dried mine for about 32 hours, but this will vary by thickness and size of liver. Let the “snap” be your guide!
Step 5: Once completely dry, break your liver into small pieces (you’re basically helping your blender out, so the smaller the better). Grind the liver into a powder using a high-powered blender or spice/coffee grinder (this step will be stinky! I recommend leaving the lid on until the dust has settled…trust me!). If you choose to, you can sift the liver powder through a fine mesh colander and grind the larger pieces. But this is completely optional, just know, the finer your powder, the more liver will end up in each capsule so adjust accordingly. Pour ground powder into a clean bowl and gather supplies for pill encapsulation.
Step 6: Following the instructions for your pill encapsulator, fill each capsule with the liver powder and store in a jar in the freezer (your liver is technically shelf stable, but I like to store in the freezer to prolong the shelf-life). This step will take about an hour or so (depending on your encapsulator), so put on a good movie and find enjoyment in this tedious step! And please be sure you buy the correct size capsules for your encapsulator!!!
Congratulations! You have now made your very own desiccated liver pills at a fraction of the cost of store bought! My breakdown looked something like this: approximately one pound of liver made 192 capsules. Because we bought half a locally pastured cow last year, our price per pound averaged out to $3.58. So, 192 capsules cost me $0.02 per pill ($0.08 per serving of 4), compared to $36.00 for 120 capsules or $0.30 per pill ($1.20 per serving of 4).
I’ll give you fair warning and tell you I’m about to go all “nerdy” on you! When I started, I had about 1 pound of liver. When I finished, about 11 ounces of moisture had been lost, leaving me with 141.12 grams of concentrated liver. Each size “00” capsule holds approximately 735 mg, or .735 g (141.12 g = 141,120 mg). I was able to fill 192 capsules with my 5 ounces of concentrated liver powder. To break it down further (and to know how much liver I’ll be consuming each week) here’s how the numbers look:
1 oz of liver each week = 2 pills/day
*This actually divided out to 1.71 pills/day, but since we took all the time to encapsulate them, let’s not break them apart now! Because of this, the numbers won’t quite look right at a glance…but you can be confident in my numbers, I just taught this to my second grade boys so it’s fresh in my noggin!
2 oz of liver each week = 4 pills/day
3 oz of liver each week = 5 pills/day
4 oz of liver each week = 7 pills/day
5 oz of liver each week = 9 pills/day
The next step is to figure out how much liver you want to consume each week. My suggestion is to start slowly, say 1-2 oz. If, after a week, you’re feeling great, then up your dosage! It’s so important (and you’ll hear me say it over and over again) to listen to your body. If you feel a great energy boost, but also a lack of appetite and trouble sleeping, back off on your dosage and see if your appetite and sleep improve. If you take them and don’t notice much change at all (with no adverse reactions) then try upping your dose.
My preferred dose is 7-9 capsules/day. I’ve suffered from low iron since I started having babies and am continually working on keeping my levels in a normal range. I usually take them in the afternoon with a big glass of water, followed by a Dandy Blend latte. I notice a great boost in energy that lasts into the evening, which is especially helpful during that afternoon slump (and what we, at our house, dub “the crazy hour” between 4-5PM). I also don’t have trouble falling asleep at night and tend to wake up feeling “awake” (and not like I want to roll over and hit the “snooze” button).
One last tip: If you want to take liver, but neither want to buy nor dehydrate and make your pills, you can follow steps 1 and 2, then cut your defrosted liver into small pieces (in a size that you can swallow), lay them out on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and freeze. Once frozen, transfer the pieces into a jar and store in the freezer. Do the math and figure out how many pills you’ll need to swallow to consume the amount you want each week.
I have used both methods and prefer the capsules. Because the capsules are in a concentrated form, you have to swallow far less than you would the frozen raw liver. But remember, the point is getting organ meats into our diet! So, even if you’re not getting an ounce a week, you’ll still be reaping the benefits!
And, because it’s too funny not to mention, while making this last batch of liver pills, my 6 year old rascal, thinking the liver looked a lot like chocolate, asked his Daddy if he could try “Mommy’s chocolate liver”. It goes without saying that he was not a fan! (However raw liver and lightly cooked egg yolks were my youngest child’s first food and he still eats plain liver today! Start ’em young!)