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Welcome to all my fellow bird lovers and gardeners! I'm so glad you stopped by.

Migratory bird populations have taken a nose dive in the past 40 years. But you can help bring their numbers back by creating beneficial, beautiful and fun habitats in your own backyard. Discover favorite plants and environments that shelter and feed colorful songbirds, as well as how to make them feel welcome by offering their preferred natural foods.

Grandma Pearl
(Connie Smith)

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Basic Suet

Female Downy Woodpecker enjoying home made suet
by Grandma Pearl
Basic Homemade Suet is easy to make and more economical than buying commercial suet cakes.  Plus, you can be sure there are no harmful additives if you make it yourself.

You can find suet or beef fat trimmings at your local butcher shop, usually at a drastically reduced price.  Or, you can trim the fat from meat you cook yourself--save the fat scraps in a container and keep refrigerated until you are ready to render them.

Wild bird supply stores carry plain suet cakes that have already been rendered.  These can be used without any additions, or you can supplement them with bits of fruit, seeds or nutmeats to please your backyard birds.

If you choose to make your own suet from fat trimmings, here is the process:

1.  Cut the fat into small pieces, or use a food processor or meat grinder.
2.  In a deep saucepan, melt the fat OVER LOW HEAT.  Don't rush this step!  It is better to do this slowly than to risk a fire!  Treat it with respect as you do any cooking oil or other fat on the stove.
3.  Once the fat is completely melted, pour it slowly and carefully into molds or other containers.  Remember that the unmolded product will need to fit into your particular suet feeders.
4.  Allow to cool and then refrigerate for several hours.  Refrigeration causes the fat to solidify so it can be handled more easily.
5.  If you decide to add other ingredients to the suet, do that before pouring the suet into containers. 

These are some of the ingredients that I like to add:

  • small pieces of nuts like peanuts, pecans or walnuts
  • black oil sunflower seed
  • peanut butter
  • cracked corn or corn meal
  • oats, wheat or white flour
  • raisins, apple or other small fruit pieces, currants
Some of the birds that visit my suet feeders:

3 comments:

Shauna said...

I had no idea animal fat is part of a bird's diet. How do they consume it in Nature, Connie?

Connie Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Connie Smith said...

Great question, Shauna! Insects and creepy crawlies, like caterpillars provide great sources of fat when such things are plentiful in warmer months. Here in the northeast, insects are harder to find, so that's why I supplement my birds' diet to rev up their metabolism.
Believe it or not, some berries like maple leaf viburnum also contain quantities of fat that help birds fuel their migratory flights in the fall.
Apologies for not responding sooner--life sometimes gets in the way!