Beef Liver. A Complete Guide: Functional Food & Ultimate Supplement
Beef Liver Guide Intro
Beef Liver is possibly the most underrated and misunderstood cut of meat there is. Not only is it undeniably healthy, but Calfs Liver, as it is also known, is also delicious when prepared correctly. I consider Beef Liver to be the ultimate ‘functional dietary supplement’ insofar as it’s a great cut of meat to enjoy and a powerhouse of bioavailable nutrients for your body.
Yet many people have told me they don't eat liver. They don't like the taste, or it's dry and leathery. Never one to back down from a challenge, I insist on preparing one of my favorite liver dishes for these skeptics.
Almost without fail, I've managed to convince the uninformed that beef liver is a sumptuous delicacy once prepared right.
In this installment of our nose-to-tail nourishment and organ meats series, I'll be sharing with you the wonders of beef liver.
Did you know, pound for pound, Beef Liver is the most nutrient dense natural food in the animal or plant kingdom?
For this reason, Beef Liver, most noteably Grass-Fed Beef Liver is, in my opinion, the crème de la crème of nose-to-tail eating. It is one of, if not the best ways to boost bioavailable nutrients into your body and enjoy a new flavorful food at a great price point.
I'll be explaining all the amazing health benefits of eating beef liver and let you in on some of my favorite beef liver recipes and hacks.
CONTENTS OF OUR BEEF LIVER GUIDE
- What is Beef Liver? I'll provide some of the basic biology and facts about liver.
- The Importance of Eating Organic Grass-fed and Grass-finished Beef Liver. Make a healthy choice.
- Nutritional Benefits of Eating Beef Liver. As one of the best sources of bioavailable iron, vitamins, and minerals, no one should underestimate the natural goodness of beef liver.
- What Does Beef Liver Taste Like? The difference between grass-fed and conventional feedlot beef liver.
- What is the Texture of Beef Liver Like? How quality and how you cook it makes the difference.
- Beef Liver Supplements ~ Pros and Cons. Eating beef liver vs. taking pill supplements.
- How to Cook Beef Liver the Right Way. Tips for preparing and correctly cooking beef liver, along with some of the best beef liver recipes.
- 3 Quick and Easy Beef Liver Recipes. Speed and simplicity are the keys here.
- How to Get Kids to Eat and Enjoy Liver. 4 quick tips that work.
What is Beef Liver?
The liver is generally the largest organ of any animal. It is a vital organ responsible for numerous important bodily functions in all mammals:
- Processing food after digestion. It filters everything that is eaten.
- Breaks down fat into energy.
- Holds and releases glycogen to regulate blood sugars.
- Storing essential nutrients like vitamins and iron.
- Removing toxins from the blood.
Typically, a whole beef liver weighs 10 to15 LBS. It has a jelly-like texture when raw, dark red color with virtually no fat.
Whilst on safari in Kenya 16 years ago, I had the privilege to witness the big dominant pride alpha male lion be the first to move in on the kill. As the rest of the pride moved in, he was left to feast on the liver first and on his own like a victory trophy.
I had witnessed the unmistakable instinct to go straight for the most nutritious organ mother nature has and it was eaten before others got a chance.
One thing's for sure, both in the animal kingdom and for humans, throughout history, liver has been an essential part of a healthy carnivorous or omnivorous diet. Since days of old this has been part of the ancestral diet in every part of the world in every culture.
We are only beginning to reconnect with precious offal meats and cuts like liver which have been forgotten for several generations.
Importance of Eating Organic Grass-fed and Grass-finished Beef Liver
Remember, one of the key roles of liver in animals is to filter everything that is eaten.
It is always important to choose the best-sourced cuts for the best results. Because the liver is where toxins are processed, it is even more important to ensure that you obtain your beef liver from an excellent organic farm source.
Acidosis is a huge problem amongst grain-fed feedlot cattle which directly affects the ph, taste, and toxicity of the calf's liver which you may end up buying and having a very poor eating experience.
Grass-fed and Grass-finished, Certified Organic Beef Liver is higher in CLAs. It is also free of toxins.
Ensuring that you buy beef liver from a trustworthy natural source means that you know it will taste great just as nature intended.
It will be tender, with a softer texture. The health benefits and culinary experience of trying natural, organic grass-fed and finished Beef Liver will be all the more rewarding.
For the best flavor and eating experience we recommend your beef liver is:
- Certified 100% Organic.
- Verified Grass-fed and Grass-finished.
- Non-GMO Project Certified.
You are what your food ate so we advise customers if they want to eat liver, eat liver like that of our great-great-grandparents i.e. free of chemicals, pesticides toxins, gmo's and artificial feeds.
There is no comparison in the taste, texture, color, or smell of clean natural organic liver.
Nutritional Benefits of Eating Beef Liver
Beef liver has long been widely accepted as highly nutritious and recommended as part of any diet although it has seen a spike in popularity with folks on the Carnivore, Ancestral, and Paleo diets.
It's no wonder that many refer to it as a superfood. Nutrient-dense beef liver is truly unique. Certainly, the healthiest cut of meat and arguably, the healthiest food of any category.
It is low in fat, only 0.16 oz total fat per 3.5 oz serving. Nutrient-rich Beef Liver is also the best source of vitamin A, B12, and iron from any cut of meat. Due to its extremely high Iron and mineral content, Beef Liver has long been used for treating anemia and low immune system.
Below, I've listed the nutritional information for a typical 4oz serving of Beef Liver with daily value percentages for a 2,000 calorie diet. This level of nutrient density in a natural food source is unmatched:
- Saturated Fat 6%
- Cholesterol 118%
- Sodium 2%
- Potassium 4%
- Total Carbohydrate 1%
- Protein 52%
- Vitamin A 380%
- Calcium 1%
- Vitamin B6 30%
- Vitamin B12 1,190%
- Riboflavin 180%
- Vitamin B3 98%
- Copper 500% RDA
- Folate 80% RDA
- Niacin 80% RDA
- Selenium 60% RDA
- Iron 25% RDA
What does Beef Liver Taste Like?
Almost all of the misconceptions about how beef liver tastes, are derived from not knowing how to cook it properly.
- Cooked just right, with the good basic ingredients, liver has an almost sweet, naturally earthy flavor. It is quite delicious.Beef Liver can have a fairly strong earthy flavor if overcooked.
- Because beef liver is extremely rich in minerals when overcooked, it loses its moisture and the mineral concentration-to-protein goes way up giving a much stronger more pungent taste even slightly metallic flavor.
- Those who find the taste a little overpowering have probably never tried Organic, Grass-fed and Grass-finished beef liver which is considerably milder to taste with a silky smooth finish.
Just Dont like the taste of Beef Liver?
We have a great solution for you. Our Ancestral Blend Beef and Organ Mix is a blend of just three simple ingredients ie. 80% Ground Beef, 10% Beef Liver and 10% Beef Kidney.
Like all our beef cuts, our Ancestral Blend is toxin/chemical free : Certified 100% Organic, 100% Grass-Fed & Finished and Non GMO Project Verified.
You get all the incredible bio-available nutrients of Liver and Kidney but without the taste.
A perfect solution for kids, picky eaters or those who are not quite ready for beef liver but do recognize the nutritional benefits. This simple problem solving product makes great Ancestral Blend Beef Burgers and has made moms all over the US extremly happy indeed!
Eating Raw Liver ~ What does it taste like?
We have seen a huge interest in eating raw liver on social media, websites, and customer inquiries. While we at TruBeef don't recommend this for food safety reasons, we do know people eat raw liver nonetheless.
We have been told, that when eaten raw, one can taste the rich high iron content straight away but that can be easily countered with a splash of lemon juice/lime juice, or even Tabasco. Eating raw beef liver is certainly an ancestral eating experience.
Beef Liver Hack #1: Raw Liver Pills (no taste, all the benefits).
- Chop up your Grass-fed Beef Liver into half inch x half inch cubes.
- Place seperately on parchment paper then into the freezer for 4 days.
- Remove, place your natural frozen Beef Liver pills into a tupperware then back into the freezer.
- Take one to two per day. These are literally tasteless because of the freezing.
This is a very common way to get raw liver into your daily diet to avail of all the nutrients. As the liver is near frozen, there is barely any taste whatsoever.
Is It Safe to Eat Raw Liver?
Here at TruBeef, we always recommend cooking Liver to a medium/ medium rare but if you are going to try eating raw liver, you should be mindful of three criteria :
1. The Liver came from cattle that were Organic, Grass-fed and Grass-finished ensuring no risidual toxins or heavy metals present.
2. The Liver was frozen below -4 F (- 20 C) for a minimum of 7 days before consumption. Much like Sushi and Sashimi, pre-freezing ensures no pathogens can survive.
3. Hands, utensils, chopping board and anything else that comes into contact with the liver is clean.
What is the Texture of Beef Liver like?
The Most Common Mistake that changes Beef Liver Texture: is overcooking! If overcooked, Beef Liver will dry out and become very chewy very quickly. This key mistake, in my opinion, is the chief reason why so many people are not too fond of the liver. They just haven't experienced it properly cooked.
The enjoyment of eating is not just about the taste, the texture of your food or mouthfeel is an important part of the complete sensory experience no matter what you are eating.
Beef liver should be cooked until medium, even medium to rare if you prefer it this way. When cooked like this, the liver has a nice soft creamy texture and a nice outer crust, quite unlike any other meat you've tried.
Raw liver, which grows in popularity with the Carnivore Diet by the day, is very soft, has a slight jelly-like consistency, and quite tender.
Beef Liver Supplements ~ The Pros and Cons
Because many people have either never tried cooking Liver or have bad memories of eating overcooked liver, supplements have proven to be quite popular recently. These folks recognize all the health benefits of beef liver without actually eating it. This begs the question: are desiccated dried liver supplements as good as eating the real thing?
Here are the Pros and Cons of Real Beef Liver vs. Freeze Dried Liver Supplements:
Beef Liver Supplement Pros:
- Convenient, it's easy to take a liver pill.
- Easy to swallow.
- For those who don't like the taste of liver, they can avoid eating it and take in supplement form.
- Easy to store at room temperature.
- Long Shelf Life.
- Commonly available in health food stores and online.
- Has some Liver content which is beneficial.
Beef Liver Supplement Cons:
- Some nutrients are lost during drying and processing.
- Desiccated Liver typically has a fishy taste and odor in the mouth.
- Fillers and binders are commonly used.
- Price per lb. (pound), dried liver supplements are extremely expensive compared to real liver. A typical monthly supply of dried beef liver costs $25 to $49 per 3.5oz / 100g bottle. 1lb of high quality Organic Grass-fed Grass-finished raw liver costs just $11 to $13 per lb (453 grams). Quarter of the price and four times the Liver.
- Just a single 4 to 5oz serving of fresh liver exceeds the quantity of a typical bottle / months supply of dried liver.
- Supplements are mostly unregulated by the FDA, so you don't always know what you're getting. A 2019 Research of 49 beef liver supplements purchased from online retailers in the USA were proven to show 59% did not comply with U.S. labeling regulations.
- It may not be sourced from grass-fed grass-finished livestock even if this is claimed on the bottle as the FDA does not verify the grass-fed claim nor have a legal definition for it so who knows what you are really getting.
- Not as natural and less bioavailable source.
- Quality and % of Liver will vary from batch to batch.
For me, Beef Liver in its original meat form is the ultimate functional supplement. You can eat it, enjoy its taste at a bargain price and get all the amazing nutritional benefits. You cannot cook and enjoy dried beef liver pills and the ultimate source of the liver supplements is rarely made available on the packaging.
Beef Liver Hack #2: Soaking Beef Liver in Buttermilk or Milk.
Never tried eating liver before and nervous? Have childhood memories of being forced to eat poor quality / overcooked liver? No problem, there is a very simple time-honored hack that will give a helping hand before cooking; just soak the liver in Buttermilk first!
- Pour enough buttermilk into a bowl to cover the raw liver.
- Let stand for 2 to 3 hours, rinse and cook.
- The acidity of the buttermilk will make the liver much milder and also tenderize the meat further.
- Regular milk is OK but soaking liver in buttermilk works best by far.
How to Cook Beef Liver the Right Way
Don’t overcook it!
Any cook will tell you the number one rule when cooking beef liver is not to overcook it. Medium, or medium to rare, is the best way to serve any type of liver to get the best flavor and softest texture.
If you overcook liver, it becomes tough and loses its delicate texture. The overcooked liver tends to be bitter, with a much stronger mineral taste. You want to see a vibrant pink color when you cut into it once cooked.
When frying or grilling beef liver, I like to cut it into really thin slices - about a quarter-inch thick. This allows you to cook it very quickly, at a high temperature. You end up with a beautifully charred exterior, while sumptuously smooth and creamy inside.
Just like the mainstream recipes for beef kidney ( another tasty organ meat) , Beef Liver is best for frying on a cast-iron skillet, over a high temperature is best.
HOMEMADE BEEF LIVER RUB
I like to create my spice blends and I've found the following to be a fantastic rub for beef liver:
- ¼ cup of dried coriander.
- ¼ cup Paprika (preferably smoked).
- 1 tablespoon of coarsely ground black pepper.
- ¼ cup of dried chilli.
- 1 tablespoon of dried garlic.
- Shake all ingredients together and store in an airtight container.
3 Quick and Very Easy Beef Liver Recipes
One of the great things about Liver is that is VERY fast and easy to cook. With the right simple recipes and being careful not to overcook, you can turn this cinderella of the culinary world into a ravishing princess. It doesn't take much skill or effort either.
Follow three of my favorite and simple beef liver recipes and you can't go wrong on taste or texture.
Homemade Beef Liver Pate Recipe
A favorite in Fresh and Belgian cuisine, Pate makes a wonderfully elegant and sophisticated entre or a deliciously healthy carnivore / paleo snack. Here is a great beef liver pate recipe free of preservatives and additives that will wow your guests and will have your family coming back for more.
- Grass-fed Beef Liver – 2 to 3 lbs
- 2/3 Tablespoons of Butter for frying, flavor, and moisture.
- Kosher or Sea Salt.
- One medium Onion (optional).
- 3 cloves of Garlic (optional).
Homemade Beef Liver Pate Method:
Roughly chop the liver and onions. Saute the onions and garlic in butter until soft and translucent. Add liver and cook until medium - still pink inside. Add salt and spices to taste. Remove from heat and blend until smooth and creamy.
Beef Liver Hack #3: How to Preserve Liver Pate?
All liver pate, not just beef, loses its beautiful pink color when it stands in a jar. To keep your pate fresh and maintain its vibrant color, melt some butter, and pour it over the pate. The butter seals the pate, preventing it from oxidizing and losing its color.
Pan-Fried Beef Liver with Butter, Salt, and Lime Juice
For a zesty quick liver dish, I picked this version up in Southern Spain and it’s a real winner.
- Beef Liver.
- Salt and spices to taste.
- Butter / Ghee / Suet or Tallow.
- Lime juice.
- Kosher Salt or Sea Salt
Pan Fried Liver with Lime Juice Method:
Mix salt, spices, and flour to coat the liver. Bread the liver with flour and spice mixture. Heat olive oil and butter in a skillet and fry liver until medium. Remove liver and deglaze the skillet with lime juice. Pour over the liver and serve with a sprinkle of your favorite Kosher or Sea Salt.
Beef Liver and Onions
This is one of my all-time favorites, served with mashed potatoes and a Soul Food staple. Pure hearty comfort food and is a synch to prepare.
- Beef liver.
- Kosher Salt and spices to taste.
- Ghee, Suet, or Tallow for frying (and extra taste)
Liver and Onions Cooking Method:
Slice the liver about a quarter inch in thickness.
Thinly slice the onion.
Heat the ghee or tallow in a skillet until very hot.
Fry the liver until medium.
Remove liver from the skillet and fry the onions in the same oil.
Caramelize the onion until sticky and brown.
Cover the liver with onion and serve with mashed potatoes.Traditionally served with gravy on top.
HOW TO GET KIDS TO EAT LIVER ~ SOME TIPS
One of the most common questions we get asked. Here are some quick tips that have been proven to work.
Start them young! The earlier you get your children eating liver, the better for their health and less likely to pushback on beef/calf liver in their latter years.
The French start their kids on Liver and Oysters for this very reason so by the time their kids reach teenage years, they have an appreciation for these delicacies.
- Liver and Ground Beef Blended Burgers.
- Start off using 1lb of Ground Beef to ¼ lb (113 grams) of blended liver from the good processor.
- Mix in a bowl with a teaspoon of sea salt.
- Form Burger Patties, and make your burger as normal.
- If your kids don’t notice anything different, you can try and add a little extra liver the next time until ultimately you have a blend that is at least 50% Liver and 50% Ground Beef.
A great way to get Liver into kids' diets using an American Classic – The Burger!
Liver and Ground Beef Meatballs. You can also do the very same process as the Blended Burgers above and make meatballs, add in some sage, chopped onion, dried herbs, kosher salt, and cook as normal. Serve on their own or in their favorite marinara sauce. Delicious and Healthy!
Ketchup! This is the way I was given liver as a young kid by my Mother. Just Liver, with a dusting of flour, fried in butter until medium then served with Tomato Ketchup. The sweetness and slight acidity of the Ketchup is the perfect foil to the natural flavor of liver and for me, made Liver extremely enjoyable. Thankfully, we are no longer in the sugar-laced 1970s of my childhood and there is plenty of low sugar or sugar-free ketchup brands on the market to make this even more natural and healthy for kids.
- TruBeef Ancestral Blend. As online nose-to-tail butchers we are delighted to see how popular our Beef Ancestral Blend has become amongst customers. Our Ancestral Blend is made up of 80% Ground Beef, 10% Liver and 10% Kidney. Certified Organic and Verified 100% Grass-Fed 7 Finished. You get all the benefits of Liver and Kidney without any of the taste. We have customers writing in telling us how they made it for kids and picky eaters and they did not even know!
What is the Difference between Beef Liver and Beef Kidney
When on display in a Butcher Shop, Beef Kidney is sometimes mistaken as liver due to the dark red color, it is also closest to liver in terms of consistency and a few similarities in nutritional profile. But there are some notable differences between Beef Kidney and Liver:
- Beef Kidney has a naturally more mild taste.
- Beef Kidney is known for improving histamine intolerance.
- Studies show Beef Kidney improves thyroid health.
- Beef Liver is a much better source of vitamin A.
- Beef Kidney has even more vitamin B12 than the Liver. Though Beef Liver is the best for a comprehensive selection of B-vitamins.
- While Kidney has a high iron content however iron levels are considerably higher in Beef Liver.
- Beef Liver is higher in protein.
- Beef Liver has more carbohydrates than any other animal product.
- Beef Liver is the better source of vitamin K2.
Overall, Beef Liver has a much higher nutrient density profile than Kidney. Both are delicious and well worth supplementing into your diet even just once a week for some tasty ancestral bio-available supplementation.
Other Organ Meats To Try
Other great organ meats that are great sources of nutrients and easy to cook are Beef Tongue, Beef Heart and Beef Oxtail.
Beef Liver Summary
- Beef Liver is a nutrient-dense superfood.
- It contains the greatest variety of vitamins and minerals of any cut.
- Beef Liver has more nutrients compared to desiccated liver supplements.
- It is rich in iron, and most vitamins, especially B-vitamins.
- It is low in fat and high in protein.
- Beef Liver has a strong flavor if overcooked.
- Many have taken to eating Liver Raw.
- Grass-fed, Organic, Non-GMO Beef Liver has a milder flavor and no toxins.
- Soaking Beef Liver in buttermilk or milk reduces the strength of its flavor.
- Overcooking will dry our Liver making it dry, chewy, and very strong tasting.
- Beef Liver has a soft texture when prepared correctly.
- It is quick and very easy to cook.
Disclaimer: For food safety reasons, we at TruBeef do not recommend eating raw liver and if you chose to do so, it is done so at your own risk.