We eat year-round. Guess what? So do your feathered friends. The birds. Yep.
It’s tempting to put those bird feeders away in storage come November and forget about the birds until spring.
But that’s the worst situation for them! Just when the birds need you most, you put the bird feeders away.
Their food options have all but dried up and they are starving. The berries gone. Your garden sparse. Little to eat. They need fat. We all like fat? Right?
Please no. Don’t do this to them. Let’s make a simple suet recipe that will get them plumper and bellies fuller in no time at all.
In the past, I confess, we just bought suet. But my 8-year-old loves the way birds flock to suet and go haywire trying to gobble it down. Why not make our own? It’s fun, cheap and easy to do.
What is suet and why make suet cakes for the birds?
Suet is the hard fatty tissue around the loins and kidneys of beef, sheep, etc., used in cooking or processed to yield tallow. Tallow is the fatty tissue of animals. You weren’t eating breakfast…were you?
Birds want and need fat for nutrition.
Homemade and fresh suet cakes are easy to make and are no doubt tastier than the ones purchased at a store.
Moreover, it’s a fun activity to do with the kids or grandkids. The “recipe” comes together within minutes and you can make as much as you please by doubling or tripling it.
Satisfy the cravings of the beaks when the bleak days and weeks of winter are still yet to come. And don’t forget that birds like fresh water, too.
What types of birds like suet?
Suet cakes are a great treat for insect-eating birds such as nuthatches, woodpeckers, wrens, chickadees, jays, starlings and titmice in winter.
Some creepers, kinglets, cardinals, and some warblers have been known to enjoy suet occasionally as well.
Lots of delicious protein to fend off the winter blues. And winter is the ideal time to serve up suet because the extra fat does them a ton of good!
Moreover, suet tends to get pretty icky and sticky in summer due to heat, so it’s not the best for summer feedings. It goes rancid so quickly.
Ingredients needed to make a simple suet recipe
(makes one 4x4x2 inch cake)
The best way to get suet is to head to the meat counter at a farmer’s market or locally owned grocery store and ask if they have any suet to sell.
If not, lard works just as well in a pinch and will satisfy your bird friends hunger. No one can say they’re not flexible!
I ended up using lard from ALDI because it’s the easiest product to get my hands on and was under $3 for 3 pounds.
And please….no low-fat peanut butter. The fatty brands are a good source of protein for the birds. Crunchy peanut butter is always a great option.
Step-by-step directions of how to make a simple suet recipe
1.) To get started, melt the suet or lard with the peanut butter over low heat in a larger pot so there’s room for the dry ingredients to be added. You want to prevent smoking or scorching the suet or lard. That would be bad because you’d have to start over.
2.) When the suet/lard + peanut butter mixture becomes 100% liquid, add the dry ingredients including the oatmeal, cornmeal and bird meal. Stir until well combined.
3.) Scoop your suet mixture into the bottoms of your milk cartons, yogurt container, ice trays or other random plastic containers you have around.
4.) Let the suet cakes cool in the fridge for a few hours before you put them outside.
5.) Store extra cakes in the freezer before you use so they don’t become rancid. De-frost for an hour or so and pop them into your suet feeders. They come out easier in a solid form. But if not, you can always run a butter knife around the perimeter.
Done! A simple suet recipe perfected in minutes! Happy birds.
A note on containers for storing suet
Don’t use your best plastic containers for storing your suet blocks before you use them. After all, it could be a month or more and you don’t want to tie up all those containers.
That’s why the bottom of a 1/2 gallon milk container cut off is perfect! We also had a few quart size milk jugs that were equally thrilling for this project.
Ice cube trays are awesome for tiny, tasty snacks, too. You can pop a few of them into your suet feeders for a little afternoon snack.
After I poured my suet mixture I froze them outside to solidify them. When you have finished the melting of the lard/peanut butter combo and have added the dry ingredients, the mixture is “soupy” at best. It needs to harden before you can plopped them into your feeders.
This hardening process can occur in your freezer or outside if it’s cold enough. Since temps where I live are in the 20-30 degrees F. now, it was ideal for me to freeze mine overnight outside.
No room in the freezer! Too much celery!
Last thoughts on this simple suet recipe…
Don’t you love recipes that are forgiving~ that is if you add a little much of this or not enough of that, all is well.
That’s what making easy suet is all about. If you don’t have any cornmeal and need to add extra oatmeal and bird seed, that’s totally fine!
Flexibility is key. And the birds won’t mind~ trust me!