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Making Homemade Suet

You can attract many birds by putting out suet cakes. You can easily make suet cakes at home and vary them to your local bird species. This is a guide about making homemade suet.
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November 11, 201110 found this helpful

Birds have very high metabolisms and demand high amounts of energy to maintain their daily activities. Suet is a great way to help them replenish the energy stores lost during nesting, migration, and cold weather. It's also a great way to lure bird species to your backyard that might otherwise ignore your seed feeders.

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Basic Fruit Suet Recipe

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Chop the fat into small pieces (or run it through a meat grinder). Melt the fat in a saucepan over low heat until it turns to liquid. Once the fat is melted, strain and remove any floating particles, including any remaining traces of meat.

  2. Let the liquid fat cool slightly and stir in the other ingredients. Don't worry about exact measurements. Just add in whatever you think is needed to make it look good.

  3. Line small plastic containers with waxed paper and pour in the mix.

  4. Refrigerate containers filled with suet until they start to harden, and then store them in the freezer until ready for use. For ball-shaped suet, remove the suet from their containers while still slightly warm and shape it into balls with your hands. Place the balls in plastic bags and store them in the freezer.

Yields about 4 cups of suet

Variation #1: Cracked corn suet Increase cracked corn to 1 cup. Replace fruit pieces with 1/4 cup black oil sunflower seeds.

Variation #2: Sunflower suet Decrease cracked corn to 1/4 cup. Replace fruit pieces with 1 cup black oil sunflower seeds.

Variation#3: Peanut suet Decrease cracked corn to 1/4 cup. Replace fruit pieces with 1 cup of unsalted, bird food grade peanut halves.

Tips for Finding Inexpensive Ingredients

Birdseed: If you feed birds all year round, then you are probably already buying bird food in bulk from farm or feed stores to save money. You can also mix in seeds from flowers going to seed in your garden. Some good choices are cosmos, sunflowers, zinnias, poppies, asters, black-eyed Susan, coneflowers, and sedum.

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Fruit: If you (or perhaps your neighbors) grow cherry or other fruit trees, collect fruit with insect holes or bird damage, and cut it into halves or quarters. Other good choices for fruits include native berries like chokecherries, juniper, elderberries, mountain ash, and service berries. Store fruit in the freezer until you make the suet. It can be added to recipes while still frozen.

Fat: If you eat meat, one way to acquire fat for suet recipes is to trim the excess from meats before cooking them, or save the drippings. Freeze fat in labeled plastic bags until you are ready to use it. Scraps of fat can also be sourced from local butchers. It's also available in the meat section of some grocery stores. Experts disagree about whether birds digest pork fat as easily as beef fat, but most agree that lard and vegetable shortening are not good substitutes.

Offering Suet to Backyard Birds

Suet cakes can be set out for birds while still frozen. Pop it out of its container and if necessary, cut it into smaller pieces before dropping them into a mesh bag (or wire suet cage). You're your feeders from tree branches at least 5 to 6 feet off the ground. You may also want to try smearing the suet directly on the bark of trees. This will be especially welcome to bird species accustomed to clinging onto bark in search of insects.

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Comment Was this helpful? 10
October 29, 20120 found this helpful

Please do not use plastic mesh bags. I did that one year and found a poor little sparrow with it's feet tangled in the mesh. Fortunately, I found it early on and saved it.

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By 18 found this helpful
July 26, 2012

I always give the birds stale bread slices PLUS I feed them seeds and suet cakes but today (since I ran out of store bought suet cakes) I put them all together! I buttered the slice of bread with chunky peanut butter on each side (one side at a time) then dropped the bread into my bag of bird seed!
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Each slice fits into the pre-made suet holders perfectly!

If you love BIRDS vote for me!

By Donna from NE Pennsylvania

Comment Was this helpful? 18
August 13, 20140 found this helpful

Bread is actually bad for birds. It has no nutritional value for them and is actually considered a junk food for them. It can cause health problems for the birds as well.

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By 19 found this helpful
December 15, 2009

Keep an old coffee can and drain your beef or bacon grease into the can. When you have enough, melt it down. Add a little flour, some sunflower seeds and even a little peanut butter, and then refrigerate. When it goes solid, you can put in a suet cage or nail to a tree for the birds. ;)

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Source: My husband

By Gooby from Straughn, IN

Comment Was this helpful? 19
January 11, 20160 found this helpful

I am hesitant to use Bacon. Isn't that salted? Salt is toxic to song birds. Better check label first to make sure there's no salt.

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By 5 found this helpful
December 21, 2013

Nuthatch on suet feeder.

CommentPin It! Was this helpful? 5

For those who enjoy feeding backyard birds, suet is a great choice for attracting a variety of beautiful species.

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By 4 found this helpful
December 20, 2011

Flicker at suet feeder.

CommentPin It! Was this helpful? 4

I just got done making suet for the wild birds. It is cheap enough to buy, but gets even cheaper if you make your own. The following is my recipe.

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By 3 found this helpful
March 4, 2014

Put this mixture in a suet cage and watch your birds enjoy.

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By 1 found this helpful
September 2, 2010

This tip is for all you birdwatchers out there! This past summer I decided to start making my own suet. I make up a batch every month and store it in the freezer until I need it.

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By 1 found this helpful
April 30, 2009

I am an avid bird feeder. In the winter I save my grease drippings, mix them with seed and pour them in a paper milk container. Put it in the fridge to harden and once hardened tear off the paper. I save my net onion bags and hang the home made suet in them for the birds.

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By 0 found this helpful
August 29, 2007

Combine all the ingredients; mix well. Put in an onion bag or suet feeder, or pack in pine cones or into the bark of trees. Then watch the birds enjoy this hearty feast.

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

January 13, 20120 found this helpful

Since peanut butter has increased in price, is there a substitute for it in making suet cakes?

By Pat Z.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
January 13, 20120 found this helpful

Birds love lard and it is sticky, but will melt in hot weather. They do not like other shortenings, as I found out.

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September 2, 20100 found this helpful

Would anyone out there know how to make homemade suet? We have lots of beautiful birds around in the winter and we try to keep them happy. Thanks. Barb from Mountaindale, NY

Feedback:

RE: Bird Feeder Suet Recipe

Suet is beef fat, so you can't really "make" your own. You can get it from a butcher and then use it as is, or melt it with seeds and such to make suet cakes for the birds. Butchers also sell it to make Christmas puddings, but most people don't bother with this any more, and use an alternate source of fat. I think the idea of feeding suet to the birds came from years ago when people had access to it because of doing their own butchering. It is not as popular as pork or bacon fat for cooking, and so was an "extra" thrifty, low cost thing that one could use to feed the birds. (10/27/2008)

By louel53

RE: Bird Feeder Suet Recipe

Thanks for asking Barb and thanks for the recipe Kathy, I'm going to try it. (10/30/2008)

By Lori

RE: Bird Feeder Suet Recipe

I think they just like the suet itself. Be cautious of peanut butters or bacon fat, as they contain a lot of salt, and can put the birds into a premature moult. That can be deadly to them in the winter. (10/31/2008)

By chickadee101

RE: Bird Feeder Suet Recipe

I used to boil a little water and then melt 1 cup crisco shortening in it and then stir in 1 cup sugar and enough oats to make it thick. Then I would cool it a little and put it out on the fence in a margarine container. :)

Here is a website that has other recipes for suet:

http://www.ourbetternature.org/suet.htm

Most of their recipes add peanut butter and cornmeal and flour. I never added those but it could be a great idea to do that. When I would put the suet out in a margarine bowl attached to the fence, then all the wild animals would come up from the neighborhood, possums and all, they all expected it at a certain time. Remember if you start feeding them in the winter to keep it up because they will be expecting that as a source of nutrition. (02/06/2009)

By Robyn Fed

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

December 15, 20090 found this helpful

Homemade Suet In An Onion Bag
Homemade Suet In An Onion Bag
One way to make suet is to save the fat cut off of your meats. If I don't have enough to make a large batch, I've frozen the fat until later. Then I render that fat and add to that various things such as stale cereal, bread, cracker crumbs, oatmeal, you name it, anything grainy. I'll add the ingredients to the rendered fat. Mix it up until it's rather thick then pour it into a sandwich container. Place it in the fridge and when it has hardened, I pop it out and put it in a wire suet holder.

I've also used small muffin cups and then placed these in recycled onion bags.

Have fun!

The birds love this. I've never made anything and placed it out for them that they didn't eat.

By Teena from IN

Answers:

Home Made Suet

Please explain "render" to me, I'd like to make some for the birds using this method. (02/13/2008)

By Dede

Home Made Suet

What a thoughtful idea! Rendering is cooking the fat and harvesting what rises to the top when refrigerated, right? (02/13/2008)

By Nancy

Home Made Suet

Render= cooking the bits of fat until all the grease is out of them and they are floating in the grease. I use bacon fat left over from frying bacon. I also add any of the following: birdseed, oatmeal, bits of fruit and nuts, cornmeal, etc. I also make these in muffin pans and put out "cupcakes"for the squirrels, away from the birdfeeders. Cuts down on the critters raiding the birdfeeders :0)

Maggie O in Bloomington, MN (02/13/2008)

By gardenlady58102

Home Made Suet

Please do not use onion bags or any other plastic netted bag. I did this for many years until one time, in the cold winter months, a bird got its' leg tangled in the netting. I was home at the time and was able to cut the netting away from the bird's leg. It was very traumatic for me and the bird.

If I wasn't home, the bird would have suffered and most likely died. So, please invest in the wire cages, they do last for a very long time. Please pass this information to any of your friends who feed the wild birds. (02/14/2008)

By Brenda

Home Made Suet

Here is a site that will explain rendering better than I can.

http://waltonfeed.com/old/soap/soaprend.html

(02/14/2008)

By doccat5

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

April 30, 20090 found this helpful

I save all of the left over bacon grease, and grease from frying foods, put it in a jar in fridge, (dated of course). I also save the square suet container from feeding birds suet in summer. In the winter, I reheat the "saved" grease, add raisins, nuts, peanut butter, cornmeal, oats, cracker crumbs, birdseed, sunflower seeds, etc. Mix it all together and put in the saved suet holders from summer. Presto, homemade suet cakes for the birdies, that fit in the suet holders. The birds love it, and it saves a bunch of money in winter time, when the birds really need our help eating good food to keep up their energy in the cold, cold winter!

By Rosa

Comment Was this helpful? Yes

October 25, 20080 found this helpful

Bird feeder suet recipes and tips from the ThriftyFun community.

Bird Feeder Suet Recipe

Here is a recipe I found online. It looks easy and I plan to try it myself.

Not-So-Sloppy Summer Suet

  • 4 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup shortening

Combine all the ingredients; mix well. Put in an onion bag or suet feeder, or pack in pine cones or into the bark of trees. Then watch the birds enjoy this hearty feast.

* From Birds and Blooms newsletter, July 2006

By Kathy

Corn Meal and Peanut Butter

Mix corn meal and peanut butter together and form it in suet holders that you recycle. I do this all the time, and the birds love it, even better than the store bought one, they seem to like them better too.

By Rosa

Any Kind Of Nuts Will Add Protein

The peanut butter is for added protein, so you can use any type of nut butters (almond, cashew, etc.), or make your own. You could also use sunflower or pumpkin seed butters, or try millet, flax or sesame seed butters. The birds won't mind.

By Susanmajp

Cheap Suet Cakes

I don't make my own suet cakes, but our Kroger store sells some for 69¢, and I use them all summer. I store them in the fridge, but even in the hottest months they don't melt and fall apart, but they do get softer in the heat of summer. I was going to try making my own, but for the price, I just buy Kroger's. I do know that you have to use Beef Suet, it doesn't melt as easily as the fat you trim off steaks and roasts. But that means you have to find a butcher to supply you with Suet.

By Harlean from Arkansas

Feel free to post your ideas below.

Comment Was this helpful? Yes
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