I've seen in several cookbooks that beef liver should be soaked in lemon juice for an hour or two before cooking to remove "impurities". Since I have no idea what the chefs are talking about regarding "impurities", I don't know if I'm just wasting lemon juice or if it's a practice with some merits. Anyone know what the purpose of this is and if it's worth doing?
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This technique is used by vegans for yucca or for beans......weak acids hydrolyzed bad proteins like lectins and putrid acid to lessen the toxicity......but they are still toxic but it lower numbers. Liver can have some bad stuff in it depending upon the. Animal source.
This is how I prepare liver, though I don't soak it for quite as long, just 20-30 minutes, the juice from about a half lemon for about a pound of liver is plenty (i.e. don't try to submerge it or anything). I do this because it gives the liver a milder flavor and firms it up so it doesn't get mushy when it cooks. I do find a substantial difference in the liver from a culinary perspective so I think this is worthwhile for that reason.
I am not totally sure of what "impurities" lemon juice would extract from the liver, though I have heard this claim too (it's mentioned in Nourishing Traditions for example). Drinking lemon juice is supposed to help detox YOUR liver (not the one you're cooking), perhaps the idea is that lemon juice will also detox the liver you're cooking.
The liver is basically a big filter and so would catch various contaminants. I do notice that when I pour off the lemon juice, it is no longer clear, so it is taking something with it. Liver (and all meats) are handled many times between slaughter and packaging (and laid on who-knows-what for who-knows-how-long) so I think it's always a good idea to rinse packaged meat products in something (at least water) before cooking and eating.
I wouldnt soak liver, propably only removes nutrients and nothing else. Beef kidney is a diffenrent matter, i would soak that for taste reasons. Its quite hard to get taste good. Lamb kidnays taste much better but are here very rarely available in quantities.
I only rinse liver, and get it as fresh as you can. Few days old liver is much better in taste than a week old. Imo. Best i liver i have had was a wild deer shot by my friend on the same day. Amazingly mild and delicate in flavor. I was almost dissapointed by so no-liverish taste! :D
I decided to stop soaking it a while ago. I simmer the beef liver in water (after slicing it) for about five minutes and pour off a lot of "impurities" (it's pretty raunchy looking water but who knows?) I then puree it and put it through a sieve and season it...the only way I can get it down. The lemon juice soaking seemed questionable to me after a while too. Nourishing Traditions doesn't even say to rinse the liver after soaking it