I’ve talked before about the fact I don’t particularly care for liver and ways that I have tried to sneak liver into my own food so that I can’t taste it. It would be fantastic if the world’s most nutrient dense food tasted like Reese’s peanut butter cups, but unfortunately it just isn’t so. I really liked the idea of making frozen raw liver “pills”, but in practice I found that they were fiddly and often froze with sharp edges so I couldn’t get them down quickly and I would still taste the liver. I knew that I could buy desiccated liver pills from different supplement companies, but they were expensive, especially the ones that were good quality, i.e. organic and grass fed, and many of them had fillers such as maltodextrin (what), which is derived from corn (yep). I wondered if it would be possible to make my own liver pills from local organic grass fed beef liver and gelatin capsules. I stumbled upon this blog post and was so excited to find that someone else had successfully done it and that it was a possibility! I found some high-quality, grass fed organic beef liver from Neiffer Ranch, which I can highly recommend if you have access to their products here in Eastern Washington State.
A common misconception about liver is that you shouldn’t eat it because it is the ‘toxin filter’ in the body. While the liver does process toxins, it doesn’t store them; it converts toxins and prepares them for excretion from the body. (Actually, a lot of toxins are stored in fat, which is another reason why it’s important to buy cuts of meat from properly raised, healthy animals, and, that if you do buy meat from factory farmed animals, that you cut the fat off or buy only lean cuts of meat.) A good thing to remember with organ meats is ‘like supports like’: if you eat liver, it’s going to help support your liver with the nutrients it needs to do its job properly. Liver is rich in B vitamins (especially B12), iron, folate, copper, zinc, choline, and a whole bunch of other substances that do myriad things in the body. Seriously, I’m constantly blown away at how many incredibly important nutrients liver has. I’ll read about a certain nutrient in one of my textbooks for my nutritional therapy certification and I will think, I need to start getting more of this in my diet! But then, I read that beef liver is an excellent source of that nutrient, and then I think, Oh, good! Guess I am already getting it! 😀
So, yes: liver is nature’s most nutrient dense superfood. And if you, like I was, are searching for a way to take it easily, cheaply, and in a way that you don’t taste it, making your own liver capsules might be a perfect option. The process involves blending the liver, dehydrating it, blitzing it into a powder, and then encapsulating it. It takes time, but it’s not difficult. And instead of $12.99 for 60 capsules, I pay about $25 altogether for 800 capsules. That includes the cost of the capsules. (Am I in the wrong business? Should I be selling liver capsules?! I ask myself these questions every day when I see things like switchel and bone broth becoming cool and selling for $7 a pop.)
I followed the same dosage recommendations as recommended in the original blog post I found: 3-8 ounces of liver weekly is ideal (about one serving per week), and eight liver capsules is about a half an ounce, so if you take them every day you’ll be getting three and a half ounces a week. It seems like a lot, but just think of it like taking a couple forkfuls each day. Because they’re chocker-block full of B-vitamins, they are energy-giving, so I take them in the morning. Sometimes I refer to them as my “rocket fuel”! Did you know there’s an as-yet-unidentified anti-fatigue factor in liver? They don’t know what exactly the compound is, but there’s a compound somewhere in there that makes us feel downright mighty. Seriously, you just feel like you’re ready to take on the day. I once gave my liver pills to a friend to try and he sent me a text (which, granted, out of context would sound quite dodgy): “The pills kicked in. Nothing is moving as fast as I am now.”
So, let’s jump to it! Here’s how I did my last batch. You can halve the batch if you only have one dehydrator, but I really recommend doing a massive amount at once so you have enough pills to last you a while. Like I said, it’s not hard, but it takes time!
What You Need (Baby, I Got It)
Large dehydrator (or two normal-sized ones)
4 lb. organic, grass fed beef liver
Empty gelatin capsules (I used up most of a bag of 1000)
1. Cut parchment paper to fit the trays of the dehydrator. I just used pencil to trace the outer and inner circles of the dehydrator and then cut out the circle with scissors.
2. Purée the liver. I worked in batches, doing about 1/2 pound at a time.
3. Pour the liver onto the parchment paper- covered trays, about a quarter inch thick. You may have to use a spatula to spread it out evenly.
4. Cover the dehydrators with the lids. Set the dehydrator to 105°F if it has a temperature setting; otherwise, a low setting will work. You just want to keep it under 115°F so it stays technically ‘raw’ and therefore retains as much of its nutritional goodness as possible. Place the dehydrators in a well ventilated area. I am not going to lie; this does not smell fantastic.
5. When the liver breaks apart very easily with your hands, it is ready. If it just cracks or it tears, it needs more time. This will take about 24 to 72 hours, depending on how thick the sheets of liver are.
6. Break the sheets of liver apart into chunks small enough to fit in your blender. Blend the liver until it becomes a powder. You will likely still have small chunks of liver, so what I did was use a small strainer to strain out the bigger bits, collect the powder in a bowl, and put the bits back into the blender to be ground again. This part will take a while.
7. Once you have your powder, get your encapsulating machine and your gelatin capsules. Fill up the machine with capsules. Use a spoon to drop a couple heaping tablespoons of liver powder into the capsules, and to use a card to push the powder into the capsules.
Put the lids on the capsules, pour the finished capsules into a mason jar, and store the mason jar in the freezer. Even though the powder is dehydrated, I keep my liver pills in the freezer just in case.
If this seems like way too much work for you but you still want to get liver in your diet, check out my ‘I can’t believe it’s liver’ meat patties, or just try mixing ground liver with ground beef in a 1 to 4 ratio.
If you end up making the liver pills, let me know what you thought! If you have other hidden liver recipes you love, leave them in the comments section below, or post them on Instagram and tag me (@rosemaryfotheringham) in it; I’m always willing to try new recipes! And as always, feel free to leave any questions in the comments or by emailing me.