Living Off the Land - Eating Deer Liver

Living Off the Land - Eating Deer Liver
Living off the land means learning to use everything the land provides. One food source you may be overlooking is the liver from deer you harvest. Deer liver has a mild flavor and is very good for you. Many people believe the best source of any liver is from free ranging, grass fed animals. On my land, whitetail deer are the only deer species I have available to hunt which meets that criteria. However, any deer species is a perfectly acceptable source for liver.

Deer liver from non-commercially raised deer is free from any growth hormones or chemical additives. Moreover, fresh deer liver has no preservatives added to preserve the meat while it is packed, transported, and displayed in the market awaiting sale. By contrast, when you consume a liver from a captive animal raised commercially you could be ingesting unwanted antibiotics or other chemicals.

Deer liver is a nutritional powerhouse. 

Dr. Joseph Mercola, a physician and best selling author of several books, raves about the nutritional benefits of eating liver. Like any other liver, deer liver is a nutritional powerhouse densely packed with vitamins and minerals, including preformed Vitamin A, the B vitamins, and iron. The Weston A. Price Foundation reports on an early scientific study which suggests there is a possible element in liver which is an anti-fatigue factor. 

Obtaining deer liver is easy.

Many hunters routinely discard their deer liver and will gladly give it to anyone who might want it. If you hunt and want to harvest the deer liver yourself here is how to do it. To harvest the deer liver without disturbing the other internal organs, hang the deer with it's head up. Then cut a horizontal slit across the chest cavity immediately below the rib cage. The liver will be located on top of the stomach and other internal organs. It will be attached just below the backbone of a deer right below the diaphragm at the bottom of the rib cage.
The deer liver is a dark brownish red colored organ usually a little larger than the size of both your hands held together. Do not confuse the liver with the spleen. The spleen is a much smaller organ and more grayish in color. If in doubt, cut into the liver. The exposed meat will have a firm, solid texture and be a very dark reddish black color. The spleen is a medium brown color and not solidly textured. The spleen is not edible.
Grasping the liver firmly, simply cut the membranes holding the deer liver to the body and sever the connecting tube at the base of the liver. Immediately ice down the liver or refrigerate it. You can see where the liver is positioned inside a deer carcass here.

Processing the deer liver. 

To prepare deer liver for the table, soak it in salt water for a few hours. Then wash the liver repeatedly under running water while squeezing the liver like a sponge. Removing as much blood from the liver as possible will greatly improve its taste. Discard any membrane or connective tissue also.
If you don't want to cook the entire liver at once, simply wrap or bag in portions and freeze. There are several ways to prepare liver but I enjoy liver that is thinly sliced and stir fried in olive oil with strips of bell peppers and onions. Served over rice, this dish makes a complete meal which is both filling and healthy.
So, why not consider adding deer liver from harvested wild game to your diet. I believe you will be glad you did!
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