Sunday, February 28, 2010

Homemade Suet

Suet feeders attract some of my favorite birds, like nuthatches and woodpeckers. For years, I've bought suet cakes each winter. This year, for the first time, I tried making my own, a project that was surprisingly easy and successful.

The idea came when I was separating the fat from a pot of chicken stock. I was making soup from the broth but the fat was going to be wasted. I'd just refilled my suet feeders so I had an an empty tray from a commercial suet cake. I put a handful of bird seed (a mix of cracked corn and black sunflower seeds) into the tray and then poured in the melted fat. Stir a couple of times, then out on the porch to harden.

The first homemade cake was a little thinner than the commercial ones, but it worked in the feeder and the birds liked it. The next batch, I had more fat so I made them thicker. My homemade suet was relatively soft and I think it would melt in hot weather, while the factory ones have stabilizers. For me, that's not an issue since I only use suet in the winter.

Suet cakes are cheap enough that I wouldn't recommend buying ingredients just to make homemade suet, but if you have birdseed & fat already, it only takes a few seconds to make them.

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