Chicken Liver Capsules
by Hannah McClure “Soul food” refers to ethnic cuisine/food traditionally prepared and eaten in the southern United States. This term originated in the 1960s. Off-cuts or undesirable meat cuts are often included in soul food. Chicken liver is one of them.
On the other hand, chicken liver seemed to take a back burner in the kitchen and restaurants somewhere in the 50s. As it begins to make a comeback, I find the most common struggle with it, aside from being organ meat, is its texture. Also, many cooks do not know how to prepare it other than liver and onions or cornbread stuffing with liver tucked in.
As with many things in our busy kitchens, there are a few alternative methods of consuming liver: from freezing small cuts and swallowing whole, like a supplement, to the encapsulating dehydrated or freeze-dried liver. I prefer the alternative process of getting liver into the diet — capsules — which can be purchased as beef or chicken, or can be made at home. When raising your own flock of layer hens or meat birds, it seems the best logic to utilize what you have when the time comes to harvest the meat. This includes undesirable cuts such as feet, hearts, gizzards, and liver.
While it takes a little time, it is fairly easy and incredibly beneficial to encapsulate dehydrated chicken liver. I encourage you to consider it if you are like many who can’t get past the texture or the fact that liver is an organ.
Let’s first look at why liver is such a superfood and valuable source of nutrients. After which, I’ll walk you through making these nutrient-dense supplements at home. With as little as two tools and two ingredients, you can preserve your chicken livers into an easy-to-take capsule packed with all the same great benefits.
Why is chicken liver true superfood?
Let me count the ways! One main thing that caught my attention with chicken livers was the B vitamins found — specifically, B12. It also offers a highly usable form of iron. In addition to vitamin A, riboflavin, folate, and zinc, it also is an excellent source of protein, and a serving has more choline than a large egg. It is the best source of copper in the modern diet, and is a good source for CoQ10 (a nutrient crucial for cardiovascular function) and purines. Have I convinced you to harvest and use the livers yet? In a nutshell, liver contains abundant, highly prized, and often challenging-to-come-by dietary nutrients. And while the recommended daily value varies between chicken and beef liver, both are nutrient powerhouses.
Now that I’ve shared with you the many amazing benefits of liver, let’s make some capsules. You will need the following:
- Chicken livers (As many as available/desired. I started with about 20 livers.)
- Dehydrator (Mine is a Chefman nine-tray dehydrator, though any kind works.)
- Food processor or coffee grinder (I use a 14-cup coffee grinder set to fine grind.)
- Vegetable cellulose capsules, separated, in size 00, 0, or 1. (The smallest is 1; 00 is the largest. Your preference.)
- Optional: “The Capsule Machine” or similar machine in the appropriate size for the capsules you selected. (Highly recommended as it makes filling capsules quicker and easier. Especially if you plan to do this in large quantities or often.)
Rinse each liver thoroughly and allow excess water to drain onto a clean, dry towel.
Place livers on clean dehydrator trays, eventually filling each tray. Do not overlap.
Dehydrate for six to eight hours at 160 degrees F. After the time is up, check that livers are fully dehydrated. You should easily snap livers in half and hear a crisp sound. If still flexible, continue drying in one-hour increments until fully dehydrated. The time varies depending on your climate, dehydrator model, and liver thickness/size.
Blend dehydrated livers with a coffee grinder or food processor until finely granulated. You will still see bits of liver, and you may sift out the larger bits and grind them again. The key is to have ground enough to fit into your capsules.
Tip: Be sure to allow the grinder/processor to settle several minutes before opening, as the process of grinding will create a dust cloud.
Transfer granulated liver into a clean, dry bowl. Repeat step four till all liver is ground down.
If filling capsules by hand, take the larger side of a capsule and scoop through the bowl to fill with the ground liver. Gently tap the capsule and add extra ground liver if needed. Once filled, gently press the smaller side over the larger side and marry the capsule together.
If using a capsule machine, fill the machine’s base with the larger side of your capsules. Gently press capsules down to be flush with the base. Using a teaspoon, fill the capsules. This process varies depending on your machine. Mine came with a card to scrape across and help evenly fill the capsules. Scrape off any excess ground liver. Using the top side of the machine, gently place the smaller side of your capsules in but do not press them flush with the top. Once full, carefully flip over to top the machine’s base and filled capsules. The top and bottom of the machine should line each capsule up perfectly. Gently press together. Slowly remove the top portion. Your capsules should be all married together.
Store your finished capsules in a clean, sterile, dry jar with an air-tight lid.
Add these capsules into your daily routine: 1oz of liver = two capsules per day in a size 00 capsule. Since each individual is unique, start with one or two capsules a day and listen to your body. Watch for signs that you should lessen your daily intake, such as loss of appetite or trouble sleeping. As with all supplements or herbal care, please consult with your health care provider to ensure you and your individual needs are appropriately considered and planned for. There is a wealth of added advice/information available. I resourced the following websites for benefits of liver and recommended intake:
Originally published in the June/July 2022 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.