Yes they can!
Beef kidney is an organ meat which are the most nutrient dense part of the animal and considered part of the natural diet of wild canines. They are a good source of Protein, Vitamin C, Zinc, Vitamin A, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Phosphorus, Copper and Selenium.
A 3 ounce serving of beef kidney is 135 calories. Seventy percent of the calories (95 calories) comes from protein while the remaining 30 percent of calories (40 calories) comes from fat. They don’t contain any carbohydrates.
Beef kidney is low in saturated fat but it is high in cholesterol. A 3 ounce serving of cooked beef kidneys contains 609 milligrams of cholesterol. It was once thought that this could lead to heart disease but recent studies are showing that since most of the cholesterol in the blood is produced by the liver then when eating high levels of cholesterol, the liver produces less. Therefore, cholesterol in the diet has little effect on cholesterol in the blood. The egg, once thought to be avoided due to their high cholesterol, is a good example. I would check with your veterinarian first if you have any concerns.
Buying Beef Kidneys
Always choose organic grass fed over farm raised.
Sometimes you can find kidneys in large supermarket chains, specialty markets serving Eastern European, Russian and Mexican communities, or local processing plants. Be sure to buy from a market that has a good turnover because organ meats are more perishable than muscle meats. Living in a somewhat rural area, I am able to buy them from our local processing plant for very little since no one really wants them.
Kidneys sold in grocery stores are generally thoroughly cleaned and well prepared with all external membranes and fat removed. They should not have a strong smell.
Preparing Beef Kidneys
Remove any outer membranes.
You can slice the kidneys in half lengthwise and remove the fat in one piece before cutting the kidney into pieces or slice and then remove the fat from each slice. Either way it’s easiest to do this while the kidneys are still partially frozen. I take mine out of the freezer the night before and place them in the refrigerator to slowly thaw. Removing the fat is especially important if you plan to make dehydrated treats since fat will not dry causing the treats to spoil quickly.
To make the flavor less intense, soak the kidneys in the refrigerator for a few hours before cooking them. Fill a large bowl with cold water. Add a small amount of plain vinegar or lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt. Put the beef kidney pieces into the water and allow them to soak for two hours. If you don't have time to soak the kidneys then boil the pieces in water for several minutes and drain them thoroughly before cooking. I soak the kidneys when making meals but skip it if dehydrating for treats.
Place the beef kidneys in a colander and rinse thoroughly under cool, running water. Pat the meat dry with paper towels.
Unlike lamb or veal kidneys, beef kidneys are large and tough requiring long braising over low, moist heat to become soft. The simplest way is to boil them. They can easily be dehydrated and stored for treats. Last, but not least, they can be fed raw after the appropriate freezing time to destroy bacteria.
Storing Beef Kidneys
Use kidneys the day you buy them, or store in the refrigerator, loosely wrapped or in their original tray, and use the following day. You can freeze them for up to 3 months using airtight heavy duty aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or placing inside a heavy duty freezer bag. I receive mine individually frozen and wrapped. Once home I use my Foodsaver which sucks out all of the air.
A valid concern is the high purine, compounds that the body breaks down into uric acid. Too much uric acid in the blood can cause uric acid crystals to develop. Check with your veterinarian first if your dog is prone to kidney or bladder stones.
Recipes coming soon!