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Jan 8, 2010 01:35 PM

What color should chicken livers be?

I'm thinking because it's an 8 1/2 lb Perdue Oven Stuffer (sorry but 69 cents is hard to pass up) and the liver is the color of curry, never saw anything like that before. Because it's big, or was it diseased in some way (doubt it, but still wonder). Anybody know?

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  1. I've seen "curry" colored livers a few times (by curry, you mean yellow, right?) I never thought anything was bad or wrong, probably just a diet thing. Although the color may indicate a "fatty" liver, I doubt whether the capon was an alcoholic, however, it might be a sign of too many shots of mash.;-)))

    1. I wouldn't be eating that one myself.

      I am suspicious of the way factory farmed chickens are raised, and that goes double if it was super cheap. The liver is definitely a barometer of health.

      Ideally I want them to be pale pink with maybe a tinge of yellow. I think those are better than the dark red. I was once terrified by a greenish black appendage, but I gathered later that that is normal and should have been removed but wasn't?

      4 Replies
      1. re: foiegras

        The greenish black stuff is part of the spleen. No big deal in small quantities.

        1. re: Zeldog

          Not spleen, gall bladder. Read the USDA link:
          "Occasionally a liver may be a shade of green. Green livers are condemned at the slaughter plant and are rarely seen by consumers. The green coloring is due to bile leaching out from the gallbladder and into the liver. Bile is a yellow or greenish fluid secreted by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Its function in the body is to aid in the emulsification and absorption of fats."

          1. re: bushwickgirl

            Thanks, bushwickgirl. I should have paid more attention in biology class.

        2. re: foiegras

          Yes but chickens have such short life span, maybe 6 weeeks, that there is not a lot of toxins to build up in their livers.

        3. The livers in a container of chicken livers vary considerably in color. I have never noticed a difference in flavor. Presumably if they were unsafe or sub-par the packers wouldn't have included the curry-colored ones.

          Re foiegras' post, the greenish thing is the gall bladder and contains bile, so you'll want to remove those when you see them lest they affect the flavor.

          1 Reply
          1. re: greygarious

            Jacques Pepin prefers the yellow livers, which in his opinion, have a "mellow, rich taste."
            The yellow color indicates a fattier liver, which is what I wrote about upthread. Livers can vary in color, from dark red to pinkish to yellow.
            Here's a USDA link with a color explanation and how it's related to diet more than anything else:


          2. A commercially prepared raw chicken is never shipped with its own giblets. When the chickens are gutted, the hearts, liver, gizzard and neck go into vats, and then when they are rinsed and ready for packaging, they are collected from those vats and shoved mechanically back into random birds. If you have ever found multiple hearts, for example, that is how this happens.

            On that basis, you cannot assume that the bird you are eating, which seems fine, justifies risking the eating of a weirdly colored liver. The yellow liver thing is not all that common, but it is usually just fine. However, I wouldn't risk it because you can't tell what the bird it came from originally looked like.

            1 Reply
            1. re: RGC1982

              interesting. Coastal Range Organics whole chickens usually retain one lobe of their original livers, in addition to the extra one that's added to the cavity.

            2. I wouldn't worry about the color at all... even buying a container of _just_ livers there's quite variation in color.
              Bottom doesn't matter at all.