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Learning to love liver (resolving iron-deficient anaemia)

 
pollinator
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Like a lot of people, I've never been much of a fan of liver.  It all started when I was very young, not being allowed to leave the table until I finished my plate of liver.  As an adult I've dabbled a little now and again, trying different pate recipes for instance, but nothing has been appealing enough to make me willing to eat it twice--the exception being foie gras, but that comes with its own set of issues (and I've never eaten it twice either, though not because I didn't like it).

This spring I gave birth and had a severe hemorrhage, bad enough that after a week unable to get out of bed I returned to the hospital for a blood transfusion.  This allowed me to actually get out of bed and function somewhat, but I still struggled with any sort of exertion, including simple things like carrying my baby up the stairs.  I was iron-deficient anaemic--I still am, actually.  The iron tablets did not really do much for me, other than some unwanted side effects.  The midwife told me I wouldn't see any real improvement until I'd been taking these daily for a couple of months.  Months!  I decided I was going to get iron from food, specifically (I was desperate enough to get it from) liver.

The husband got me half a kilo of beef liver from our butcher and sliced it into strips for me, which I froze individually on a tray then put into a freezer bag;  I could get out one or two strips when I wanted them.  The Joy of Cooking suggested either marinading in a vinaigrette or soaking in milk before cooking.  I tried both and prefer the milk:  I soak it overnight.  I drain the milk, salt and pepper the liver, saute some sliced onion then cook the strips till medium-well and eat straight away.  

And I Like It.  I like it as much as I like a good steak.  The sweetness of the onion, the aromatic black pepper, and just a little bit juicy on the inside--it's great.  I can eat this every day if I'm feeling particularly run down;  a couple days in a row and I can push my baby up the hill to the allotment again.  

The only downside:  it's not been a straight linear improvement;  if I stop eating it for a few weeks, my energy starts to creep slowly downward.  But it's definitely been an improvement, and a noticeable one.  I anticipate needing extra iron for as long as I'm still breastfeeding, and maybe beyond that.  Thankfully I have something that works, and that I actually like.
 
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Well......

I too had the childhood trauma thing!
And I'd rather chew on the south end of a north bound skunk! Of course that's true of all the heavy Iron bearing foods, Chard, Okra, Spinach.....Blech!!!

FWIW, I cook in cast iron, so traces of Iron are added there,
And the best concentrated source is Slow FE:

https://www.amazon.com/Slow-Fe-Supplement-Tablets-Deficiency/dp/B011A4F6BC

Liver is also a concentrator of Vitamin A, too much can be toxic! (Or at least that's what I tell those whom press liver on me!)

Dunno how you feel but $9.00 a month to not have mealtime be a test of endurance is well worth it to me!
 
G Freden
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Bill Haynes wrote:Well......

I too had the childhood trauma thing!



Another time my brothers and I had to stay at the table for at least an hour until we choked down some sort of sloppy chicken casserole with an unholy amount of salt in it--it was made by a relative and my mother insisted we be polite and finish it.  All I can remember is that it tasted like snot.  Salty, salty snot.  As a result, I don't force my own children to eat what they don't like  
 
pollinator
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G Freden has cracked the secret to cooking liver to make it delicious - sliced thinly and cooked quickly. Ideally, in a super hot cast iron pan so that the outsides are caramelised and and inside, still pink. Back in the eighties, we lived in London and I would always order the most delicious liver and onions on a bed of wilted spinach with bacon when we ate at a bistro that I cannot remember the name of. My husband still won’t eat liver due to being forced to eat leathery overcooked in strips of liver. Spinach, silverbeet (chard in American) benefit from a dash of vinegar, a little sugar and lots of garlic when cooking it, which seems to take that metallic tasting edge off. Finely chop the garlic and allow it to go nutty brown before adding the greens, no need for additional oil in the pan, the water clinging to the leaves from washing is sufficient. If the pan is sufficiently hot, the greens will sizzle and wilt immediately, toss them around and add the vinegar and sugar and keep the heat on high until the liquids have evaporated, turning frequently. Do try other livers, chicken and duck livers sautéed quickly have a softer texture than pig, lambs & beef liver. Hope that you build up your iron and energy levels soon G and continue to eat and enjoy liver!
 
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And I Like It.  I like it as much as I like a good steak.  The sweetness of the onion, the aromatic black pepper, and just a little bit juicy on the inside--it's great.



I love liver and onions!  Loved this when I was a kid, too.

I have always thought that beef liver tastes like steak.  I like to fry mine after dipping it in flour.  I like all meats breaded.  

I have never really cared for pork liver.
 
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I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said, upon hearing that I hate liver, "that's because you never had it the way I make it".  Unless you can transform that vile-tasting, atrocious-smelling, horrible-textured excuse for meat into cheesecake, how you prepare it isn't going to matter to me.
 
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Do try rabbit livers if you have a source.  Probably the finest liver I've ever had.  Also consider breading (well seasoned) bite sized chunks and deep frying, that's how we do it down south!
 
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I have really tried, throughout my adult life, to eat everything without complaint, but beef liver is the one thing that I just. cannot. get. down. I really want to, and I've learned to like some things that are just shocking to normal people (I looooooove stinky tofu, fermented fish sauce is great, natto is like a birthday party). I can do chicken, pork and lamb liver, but.....I tried beef liver again recently, in a tomato sauce, and it made me heave. My mother raves about liver and onions, and there is a local liver-and-bitter-eggplant dish that I really want to eat next time I go visit a friend who lives in a region where they really know from food, as they say.
I guess I'll keep trying, and maybe think about soaking in milk.
 
G Freden
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I think maybe my change of heart is partly to do with that fact that I need iron badly--maybe my brain is encouraging me to eat more, making it taste good.  To begin with, I told myself it was medicine;  after all, medicine usually doesn't taste good!  But I told myself if it made me better I would choke it down, no matter how bad it was.  Truly, I have never felt exhaustion as profound as this, and it's really limited my normal day to day activities, and is particularly hard keeping up with my nearly 9 month old baby.  I would eat much worse to get back to normal.

My husband had a tiny bit not long ago, when I was so enthusiastically shoveling it down, and he agreed it "wasn't bad" and that he might even consider having a small slice for dinner once in a while--on condition it was smothered in onions.  I don't really need other people to like it--more liver for me
 
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Roe deer liver is the best I find, but I was brought up on pigs liver in onion gravy I don't mind it. My inlaws had tried some liver once and since no one ate it it turned up cold on the lunch table, I was working there at the time and they (and I) were quite surprised that I ate it cold on rye bread, it actually wasn't as bad as that sounds (though I scraped off the onions, yuck)
I love pate but I cannot make it myself, I've tried and the end result tastes fine but the smell as you make it is so vile I cannot make myself eat the pate.

My recipe for liver is. fry some finely chopped bacon, fry your liver (chicken or lamb for preference) add a bit of flour let it brown, then add some lemon juice, parsley, salt and pepper and enough water to make a thick coating, serve on toast. OOh I think I will have to go have some!
 
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I don't know if this helps but, if you can get beef blood, it also is very high in iron. When cooked it turns solid. I like to brown some in a little butter, then chop it up with the spatula and use it like hamburger. It tastes just like hamburger, but the texture is a little different.

Beef blood gravy on a potato is one of my favorite "poverty meals". The fact that it doubles as an iron supplement is a nice bonus :)
 
pollinator
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Funny that so many of you have bad childhood memories of eating liver! It is one of my best memories, and as it turned out - my sister's too; she's vegan now, so she takes all those nutrients as supplements.
Our grandmother used to take us to a bistro where there was liver with onions and it was so delicious... sometimes she also cooked it at home and we loved it too. I guess it was mostly chicken liver.
This year, when I was trying a variety of local meats, I often got livers together with other organs of small animals, such as rabbit, chicken, quail etc. I didn't really know how big is the liver of a larger animal; until I got a sheep liver today. It's not as big as I thought! I looked up the nutrients and the amounts of them. They are so very different in livers from different animals.

For example, 100 grams of sheep liver contain: 492% of recommended daily dose of vitamin A, 501% of B12, 214% of riboflavin, 349% of copper, and just 7% of vitamin C.
Chicken liver (same amount) contains: 25% of copper and 118% of selenium... which sheep liver doesn't contain? Or they just skipped it?
Beef liver contains 311% of B12, 359% of vitamin A, 99% of iron...

I'm now curious about all the other livers ;) but I guess it's especially important when eating the larger ones... not too much at a time! They all seem to contain A LOT of B12 and vitamin A, and I don't remember why I thought that they also contain vitamin D... now I didn't find it.

My recipe is: first fry the chopped onion until golden (I always used rapeseed or sunflower oil, but I just learned from the other topic that it's not so healthy... so maybe use lard?), then add the liver cut into small pieces, and fry it some more but as slowly as possible. Salt it just before serving. That's how I remember it from my childhood and I think that even my vegan sister misses it a little bit... now, when I have a tiny liver from a tiny animal, I also add the heart, chopped, after the onion but before the liver. If all these are really really tiny and from a bird, I also add the gizzard (chopped) - this makes a very interesting dish because each of these organs has a different hardness and texture (liver should be the softest).
 
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Recently heard an interview with Nora Gedgaudas (apparently a primal/paleo nutrition guru) and her recommendation for getting the benefits.of liver without the taste was to make a rich chilli, and at the very end add in pureed raw liver. She swore you couldn't taste it and that it improved the texture of the stew. I'm yet to try that but I'd like too. My wife is not a fan of liver and she needs it
 
G Freden
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On the rare occasion we have giblets--either from a bought turkey or from our own chicken--I mince them raw as finely as possible and then stir them into the gravy at the last minute, allowing them just enough time to cook, but not letting them simmer.  I notice the texture of them, at least a little, but not the taste:  just tastes like gravy.

I think it may be a little late for my ten year old son to convert to liver, but I've started early with my 9 month old daughter;  she enjoys having a few bites of mine when I make it
 
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Hi G Freden - Here's MORE FOODS FOR BUILDING IRON in case you're interested! I had bad iron deficiency anemia as a young woman (heavy menstrual periods for a decade, with bad pain that put me on the floor!), and in my early 20's, after fainting once, then being unable to workout anymore - or even walk slowly up a small incline (all of which led me to a doctor!) - I got serious and resolved it by yes, eating liver, and also eating (and drinking!) the following high-iron foods: (It took about 2 years, but after that, I didn't have to keep eating these high-iron-content foods/supplements!)

1. Along with eating lots of liver, I also ate lots of RAW SPINACH in a salad. I loved spinach salad with sliced and crumbled boiled eggs and a sprinkling of bacon bits. I never came to love liver, but I was grateful that it helped me. I could only cook and eat it about once a week. Back then, I'd buy it and "smother" it with onions in a pan. Didn't know about slicing it thinner.

2. BUCKWHEAT GROATS! I cooked these in a pot, kind of the way you cook rice. Then I'd add BRAGG'S liquid amino acids and butter. Yum!

3. FLORADIX liquid IRON - My hematocrit was somewhere between 11 - 19 when I started my high-iron diet, so I was super happy when I discovered this liquid, which tasted pretty delish, along with being the most concentrated iron source that I ingested daily. It also solved the problem of getting constipated when taking high concentrations of iron. Floradix contains lots of herbal plant extracts high in iron, plus vitamins which help enhance the absorption of the formula, along with other natural ingredients that help keep constipation from happening.

4. RAISINS became my favorite snack! I could eat almost a whole box at one sitting, say, while reading a good book! I liked to eat them 1 by 1. I don't know why! Hope this might help you! Best of life to you, your baby and husband!
 
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Liver is the first thing I eat after butchering- or even during. It is much better in my opinion never frozen.

Otherwise I absolutely agree with the general idea that thin sliced with onions are standard for a reason. I also adore lots of oregano or monarda (instead of pepper) which is traditional in Greek food. Cook hot not long.

And I seriously doubt you can badly overdo it unless it’s daily.
 
Flora Eerschay
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Tj Jefferson wrote:Liver is the first thing I eat after butchering- or even during. It is much better in my opinion never frozen.



Wow, that sounds extreme! I wouldn't eat it raw... although it does look delicious... hm.
Yesterday I had a delivery of beef meat (local breed of multi-purpose cow from a small organic farm! yay!), bones and also liver, most of which I cut into smaller pieces and froze it. I now have a lot of lamb and beef liver so I'm probably safe regarding B12 and vitamin A for the entire winter...
 
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I also tend to be anemic and have to force myself to eat liver. The only way I actually like it is in Cajun rice.  I brown off some chopped. celery, pepper and onion with sausage or kielbasa. Add garlic and Cajun seasoning.  Add minced liver and giblets (I prefer using the organ meat from my chickens in this but have done it with other animal livers. The stronger the live type, the more sausage and seasoning I use to hide liver taste). Add cooked rice and parsley. Salt to taste.

Another iron booster I've been doing is adding blackstrap molasses to my coffee. Make sure to check the iron amounts because I have found it fluctuates. More painless for me than liver😀
 
G Freden
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For my birthday this week my husband cooked me a massive steak--like 32 oz--and I finished it all.  Was almost as good as the liver

Cajun rice.  I brown off some chopped. celery, pepper and onion with sausage or kielbasa. Add garlic and Cajun seasoning.  Add minced liver and giblets (I prefer using the organ meat from my chickens in this but have done it with other animal livers. The stronger the live type, the more sausage and seasoning I use to hide liver taste). Add cooked rice and parsley. Salt to taste.



That sounds tasty;  I might have to give it a try.
 
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There is another way to go about it if one can't stand the taste, or is having a hard time being consistent in eating it.  My husband and I can't stand the taste of liver, but we eat it regularly for tooth health in particular.  We eat it raw, frozen, cut into small chunks that you can swallow.  It's the frozen liver pill method.  Works great that way.

The easiest way to eat liver when you can't stand the taste

I tried other methods before that, including cooking it really well with lots of garlicky breading.  It still tastes like liver.  We were finally able to stick to eating it when we did it in frozen chunks.  We keep little containers of the chunks in the freezer, and break a few free each day.

This is a picture from the website mentioned above.  I suppose you could also make cooked pills, but we do the raw thing because we believe there are more health benefits.
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