In Food, Recipes
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Dessicated Liver Pills

Quality grass-fed liver is filled with vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids…have you ever considered taking them?

G

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 Goodgo 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-1

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-2

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-3

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-4

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-5

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!!!

Step-6

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!)

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Showing 14 comments
  • Avatar
    Lori
    Reply

    So glad you did the math for me! Those capsules are big tho so it will be interesting to see if I can get 7-9 down a day. Another post says she dries very low to keep liver “raw” but I scared of making myself sick yet there are people eating it raw, no dehydration as well as raw meat and eggs and not sick yet but maybe they are taking a gamble. I had to put dehydrator in a shed and will have to do the grinding there too, it just too gag inducing for me 😁

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Hi Lori, sorry for the late reply! Yes, the capsules are big! Be sure to experiment with what works for you! My husband has been taking them and he only takes about 4 around 3:30 in the afternoon. Gives him enough energy to get through the rest of his day without that afternoon coffee!

      You’re right on the smell… I’m currently dehydrating some liver outside on the deck, LOL!

  • Avatar
    Melisa
    Reply

    Hi, for long long can you store them?

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Hi Melisa, sorry for the late reply! I store the liver in the freezer in a glass jar with a lid (or sometimes a zip-top freezer bag) and I’ve had them in the freezer for about a year. I try to only make what I’ll consume within a few months as the fresher they are the better. But up to a year in the freezer is just fine!

  • Avatar
    Michele Sundholm
    Reply

    Do you ever worry about mold? I make a paste or slurry and then dehydrate at 105-115 degrees until dry. Blend and encapsulate. I keep the extra in a sealed (food saver) mason jar. Someone brought up the thought of mold and I really wanted to find others opinions. Thoughts? Thank you!!

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      This thought has crossed my mind Michele, and I actually store my capsules in a mason jar in the freezer just for that reason. There’s no harm in swallowing a frozen pill, so I just do that to stay on the safe side.

      • Avatar
        Michele Sundholm
        Reply

        I can’t imagine much of a mold possibility after it’s dehydrated but I guess I don’t know that for sure. Good idea for the freezer storage tho. I will have to consider that. Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Katie
    Reply

    Hi Kelsey, thanks for the great post! A few questions: my beef liver is in the oven right now, I left the strips it in there overnight at 170 (door closed due to smell), and checked it this morning, it’s definitely drying up. And it turned black like your photo, however it almost appears to have a charred coating on it. Is this normal? When I bend it this coating sort of flakes off. It’s still bendy so it has a ways to go in the oven. I’m just wondering if it’s “cooking” too much or if the black color and charring is normal. Thanks so much!

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Hi Katie, it sounds like you’re doing everything right…it may be your oven is just a tad hot. Have you ever tested the temperature? I know many ovens aren’t actually calibrated. My other thought is that maybe the black is excess blood that was in the liver? Did you make sure to rinse/clean it very well? None of this concerns me, and it’s ok to actually “cook” your liver. You’ll still have great health benefits from the cooked vs. the raw.

  • Avatar
    Areta
    Reply

    I just put my liver in the dehydrator. I was a bit in a hurry and did not rinse the liver at all. It was mostly thawed out and then I cut the liver up in small chunks and threw it into my food processor. I processed the raw liver to a paste and then spread that over my trays so the dry time would be faster and the grinding would be easier. Is it terrible that I did not rinse the liver?

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Hi Areta! I think you’ll be just fine having not rinsed the liver. In the future I’d still recommend it as it rinses any excess blood away, but if your liver was cleaned properly the first time I’m sure they’ll turn out great! And what a fantastic idea making a paste first! Thanks for sharing! I’ll have to try this next time, it’d probably be easier on my blender once it’s dried! 🙂

      • Avatar
        Areta
        Reply

        It was so much easier to blend since I made the paste before drying! I had tried the drying in cut up pieces and grinding a few years ago and it was just awful. So, I gave up. The making a paste was just excellent this time. I then used my sifter to get the larger chunks out from the finer powder. My 4 year is low in iron so I’m mixing some of the powder with homemade chocolate icing since she does not swallow the pills. I just make grape size balls of the icing with 1/8 tsp of the liver powder. All of my kids eat it and ask for more!

  • Avatar
    Missy Pinkerton
    Reply

    Kelsey, you might be able to put the blood in your compost pile…something to look into. I’ve read about it before and think that we did it last year when we butchered a cow but can’t find the source right now.

    • Kelsey Steffen
      Kelsey Steffen
      Reply

      Missy, what a great idea! If we can get ourselves to eat it (my first thought was blood sausage, which is popular in the south), then at least we can utilize it to enrich our compost! Now my curiosity is piqued! I wonder what else you could do with blood? (NEVER did I think these would be the thoughts that fill my days!) 😉

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