Liver is a meat option that is a little different from the regular muscle meat you will find in most cuts. Some people are put off by the thought of eating an animal’s organs, but these people are missing out on one of the best-kept secrets in the industry.
Many proponents of eating liver find that it offers an unrivalled experience in terms of taste and texture, as well as being abundant in a number of essential nutrients.
The main thing to note about liver is that it has to be cooked properly if you want to enjoy it to the fullest.
There have been many suggestions over the years about exactly how to cook your liver for best results, but the most popular method involves soaking the liver in milk before you cook it.
This isn’t essential for the safety of the meat, but it does have numerous other benefits that can’t be ignored. We will talk you through the reasons for this process and hopefully teach you something new about meat preparation.
Removal Of Impurities
The liver of any animal functions to process toxins that enter the body and get rid of them in a safe way. This can make people think that the liver itself stores these toxins, meaning that they’re still there by the time you come to eat it.
Although this is not quite the case, there can be trace amounts of unwanted substances in liver meat that is sold for consumption. Examples are things like urine and blood, which can hang around in the meat unless you specifically remove them.
Milk is high in casein, which is associated with the slow emission of amino acids. While this is certainly a great nutrient for helping your body once you ingest it, the casein also has helpful properties for meat that hasn’t yet been cooked.
It is able to draw out any blood and other impurities that might be trapped in the liver, allowing you to enjoy the taste of the pure meat, without anything else mixed in.
Consuming meat that is drenched in blood, or even with just a little bit of it, can seem weird or off-putting. By soaking it in milk for a period of time, the blood gradually drains out of the meat and into the milk, meaning that you don’t actually have to ingest any of it.
Just remember to replace the milk regularly, so that there is always a fresh supply while the meat is still soaking.
Neutralization Of Taste
As we all know, milk contains a high amount of calcium, which can ‘buffer’ the pH of substances it binds with and bring them towards the middle of the pH scale.
The two ends represent extremes in acidity or alkalinity, so the middle (around pH 7) represents a neutral state.
There is evidence suggesting that eating strongly alkaline foods such as fruits and vegetables can help to ‘alkalize’ your body and balance out the acidity you get from eating a lot of meat and dairy products.
Many people have complained that the taste of liver is too strong for them, as it is metallic and acidic-tasting. This is mainly caused by it being incredibly rich in nutrients (far more so than most other foods period), including iron, copper, and various vitamins.
The calcium in the milk takes away some of the bitterness that the liver naturally holds, and the liver absorbs some of the milk so it takes on the creamy taste. It is not as rich as it was originally, which could help convert more people to the liver movement.
It is an interesting one because milk itself is quite acidic, and the blood in the liver is actually slightly alkaline. Therefore, it works almost in the opposite way to alkalizing your body, because you are introducing another acid.
However, the milk does effectively cancel out the alkalinity (which is oddly what gives it the ‘acidic’ flavor in the first place).
Tenderization Of The Meat
Many meats are left to marinate in some kind of liquid, either before or during the cooking process. Marination helps to tenderize tough meats, especially things like brisket beef, because it breaks down the fibers that are too chewy otherwise.
Some people create delicious, complex sauces, while others just use whatever liquid they have to hand; beer, red wine and even salt water are popular for this purpose.
Now, we’re adding milk to the equation. As we have mentioned before, the calcium in milk can help balance the pH level of any alkaline food it is added to.
It also works together with the lactic acid content to soften the muscle fibers in the meat (which is why it is sometimes used with beef as well).
Liver needs to be softened, or tenderized, before eating, as it often has areas of gristle. These are tougher and chewier than the rest, and can make the eating experience unpleasant.
Usually, cooking meat slowly over a few hours can bring it to the desired texture. However, there is a particular danger of overcooking when it comes to liver.
This can result in the meat becoming tough again, as well as grainy and generally not as enjoyable as it should be. While other meats can be left for ages to cook without damaging the quality, the same is not true of liver.
The best way to achieve succulent liver meat is to soak it in milk first, as this effectively does the same thing as slow cooking in terms of the meat fibers. Then, there shouldn’t be much risk of overcooking, as the meat will already be much softer.
There are several reasons why soaking liver in milk is recommended before you cook it, which include taste, texture and overall enjoyment.
It can help to drain out excess blood or urine in the meat, it can balance out the pH to give it a more neutral taste, and it can make it much softer to chew.
If you don’t particularly like the taste of milk itself, that could be an issue, since the liver absorbs a lot of the milk and takes on some of its properties.
However, your liver isn’t going to end up tasting of milk if you choose to soak it – the flavor will just be less rich and more creamy, which is often much better, especially for those who are new to eating liver.
We would certainly recommend soaking the liver in milk at first, and then you can decide not to if you want to fully embrace the intense liver taste.