How To

By MDC | November 1, 2020
From Xplor: November/December 2020

Make Homemade Suet

We can’t promise a partridge in a pear tree, but if you want your backyard branches bustling with birds, make some suet.

When winter weather arrives, birds need lots of energy to stay happy and flappy. Suet is animal fat or vegetable shortening mixed with seeds, nuts, and berries. Though it might sound yucky to you, insect-eating birds like woodpeckers, chickadees, and bluebirds love the stuff. You can buy suet cakes in the birdseed aisle at the grocery store. But it’s more fun to whip up a batch at home. You probably already have the ingredients.

Here’s What You Need

  • Two large, microwave-safe mixing bowls
  • Mixing spoon
  • Measuring cups
  • 2 1/2 cups birdseed
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • Small shallow bowl or sandwich container to use as a mold for the suet
  • Suet cage (found in the same grocery aisle as birdseed)

Here’s What You do

  • In a large bowl, mix together the birdseed, oats, and cornmeal.
  • In a different bowl, combine the shortening and peanut butter. Place the bowl in a microwave and heat the mixture until it melts into a thick liquid. (This should take less than a minute.) Be careful! When you remove the bowl from the microwave, it might be hot.
  • Stir the melted shortening and peanut butter, and then pour it into the bowl containing the dry ingredients. Mix well to thoroughly combine everything.
  • Spoon the mixture into a small, shallow bowl or plastic sandwich container. Place the container in a freezer and leave it there overnight.
  • Remove the suet from the container. If it’s stuck, set the container in shallow, warm water until the edges of the suet get soft. Then, use a butter knife to carefully pry out the suet.

Put the suet in a suet cage, and hang it in a shady spot that you can see from your house. In no time, birds will arrive for a healthy, high-energy meal.

Heads Up!

Suet can go bad — and make birds sick — when it stays warm for too long. To play it safe, don’t leave suet outside when temperatures rise above 50 degrees.

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This Issue's Staff

Bonnie Chasteen
Les Fortenberry
Alexis (AJ) Joyce
Angie Daly Morfeld
Noppadol Paothong
Marci Porter
Mark Raithel
Laura Scheuler
Matt Seek
David Stonner
Stephanie Thurber
Cliff White