My cats are HUGE fans of the birds that visit our back yard . . . they love to sit at the windows and watch the birds swoop and dip close to the house to feed at the feeders spread around our home. My favorites are the Cardinal couple.
My dad was a big bird watcher. He built birdhouses from wood and gourds and mounted them throughout the property. I remember he showed me a book once where he was marking off the birds that had visited.
I’ve always included a suet feeder with the mix of various traditional seed feeders. I buy the packaged blocks of suet. But when grocery shopping last week, I saw a package of beef suet in the meat department. I decided to buy it and make my own.
So what is suet? Basically it’s just fat. You need to render it first, which means to heat and melt the fat and then strain it. A one pound block was enough to make about two dozen cupcake size prepared suet cakes.
I use a heavy saucepan over medium heat to melt it. Watch it closely. You only want to melt the fat, not simmer it.
Once it has turned to liquid, I add bird seed, dried fruits, nuts and peanut butter to the melted fat. I happened to have some dried mango, cranberries and pineapple left over from a baking recipe, so threw it all in. I’m guessing the Cardinals would appreciate the tropical flavors in 30 degree weather!
Remembering this is hot fat, carefully mix the melted fat with the additional ingredients in a large bowl.
Once combined, you can use either a cupcake tin with paper liners or small bundt pans.
If you are using cupcakes tin, you will want to put a piece of twine or ribbon into the mixture to create a hanger (see the image below). At this point, I put these in the freezer to harden before I removing from the mold.
Hang on shrubs, trees or fences to entice the birds to visit your yard! I store the extras in Ziploc bags in the freezer and replace outside as needed. We go through a couple a week in our yard over the winter.
Please note that you can add/subtract all but the suet and peanut butter to this recipe.
- 1 lb. beef suet
- 3/4 cup peanut butter
- 1 cup birdseed
- up to a cup of additional dried fruits/nuts
- Melt fat in heavy saucepan over medium heat.
- Meanwhile, add additional ingredients to large bowl.
- When suet is melted, strain to remove impurities and add to bowl.
- Mix gently and pour into molds.
- Allow to set overnight or put in refrigerator to harden quickly.
This project only takes about 20 minutes from start to finish.