Tuesday, April 5, 2016

HOMEMADE BIRD SUET

Good Evening, everyone!  I haven't been blogging much this past week as it has been busy, busy around here.  I have been involved with rescuing a couple of stray kitties and that has taken up my time.  One of the kitties is still missing and one I was able to befriend and take to the vet.  Unfortunately, the kitty was too sick to save and had to be humanely put down.  That was very sad.  :( Today, I woke up and realized that I was tired...very, very tired.  Sometimes, life just tends to get a bit tiring, doesn't it?!  

I took a nap and woke up a bit more refreshed....and ready to do something fun.  For me, that means creating something in the kitchen.  I started looking through my freezer for inspiration and saw it.  My empty bird suet plastic containers. And my freezer bags full of animal fat that I have collected over the past few months.  Inspiration dawned....Time to make some bird suet!


Never made your own bird suet? Oh, it is fun!  Not very time-consuming and easy on the budget.  Those of you who do make your own, you probably  have your own tried-and-true way of doing it.  If so, pass along some of your ideas and tips!!  The more ideas, the merrier!  :)


I start by getting out the leftover animal fats that I have saved in the freezer. For instance, if I boil a chicken, take off the meat, then put the skin and bones back in the liquid to make chicken stock, there is usually a layer of soft fat on top after it has cooled in the fridge.  I take that off, place it in a bowl with a lid, and freeze it.  To that bowl, I add additional fats (bacon grease, hamburger grease, etc) until the bowl is full. When it gets full, I pop it out and put it into a freezer bag.  I like to use a squarish-plastic bowl....that way, the freezer bags are easier to stack.



Ingredients for Bird Suet
Squarish block of fat on the left....plastic suet container on the right

Once you decide to make the suet, the first thing I do is render the fat.  This simply means that I heat the fats on the stove in order to strain out the impurities ie bits of meat, bone, etc.


To render suet:

  1. Chop the fat into small pieces .
     
  2. Heat the chopped fat on low until it is liquefied. Do not use higher temperatures to melt the suet more quickly, as this could lead to fires or scorching.
     
  3. Strain the liquid fat through cheesecloth or a fine mesh to remove any particles or contaminants. The suet should be strained several times so it is as pure as possible.
I like to strain the fat into a Pyrex mixing bowl.  That way I know how many cups of liquid fat that I have.  Here is one recipe that I use and really like:

1 cup liquid rendered fat
1 cup chunky peanut butter
2 1/2 cups stone-ground cornmeal
1/2 cup white or whole wheat flour
1/2 cup bird seed, any ol' kind
You can also add in bits of dried fruits (cherries, cranberries, raisins).

Mix the fat and the peanut butter until smooth.  Add in the cornmeal and the flour, mixing well.  Spoon the mixture into your molds.  Then, to make to make look even more appetizing, I take a bit more bird seed and sprinkle it over the top.  *If you think that your mixture isn't as firm as you'd like, just add a bit more flour.  If it is too firm, add a bit more of the liquid rendered fat.  This recipe makes around 3-4 or those plastic molds that commercial suet cakes come in. 
suet for the feeder

And this recipe is the one that I use in the warmer months.  This cake of suet holds up better in the hotter months of the year and doesn't melt as quickly.  

Alisa's No-Melt Suet Cake (for warmer months)

Suet for the feeder2 cups quick-cooking oats
2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup bird seed, any ol' kind
1 cup rendered fat
1 cup crunchy peanut butter

Same instructions as above.  This makes 4 of those plastic molds. *If you think that your mixture isn't as firm as you'd like, just add a bit more flour.  If it is too firm, add a bit more of the liquid rendered fat.  

I have made suet cakes using fat that wasn't rendered. That means, it still had bits of meat (hamburger, roast, etc.) in the fat.  I usually only set this out during the freezing cold times of the year, because using unrendered fat spoils easier.  But, if it is zero degrees outside, that unrendered fat isn't gonna spoil very quickly!  

So, there you have it.  How to make your own bird suet!  Have fun with this, be creative, and enjoy the process!   

Suet for the freezer
Bird Suet ready for the freezer











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