I do alot of cooking on my little electric griddle. I just bought this new one because the one I got as a wedding present back in December of 2008, finally kicked the bucket. Since I use this appliance on a daily basis, I knew I had to get another one – but this time I wanted a ceramic top, so this is the one I ended up with and I really like it alot better. It’s so non stick sometimes when I go to scoop things off it, they go flying right onto the counter! Which was pretty funny to watch the first few times it happened -until I got used to it.
Anyway, (got alittle off track there) I didn’t like throwing away the bacon fats from when I made breakfast. I was expressing this to Josh one morning.. how I wish there was something I could do with it and he said, “Why don’t you make your own suet with it – that’s what my gram always did.”
Sometimes I don’t always use my brain. I had never made suets before – so for comparison, next time I was at the store I looked at the ingredients for one. I was surprised to find that the suets at my local stores had added, colors and ingredients that I couldn’t pronounce as well as soy!
So what are we trying to do… kill the birds now too!
I was so furious, that I wanted to rip the stuff off the shelf and throw it in the trash. But seeing how I was in the store, I kept a lady like demeanor and waited until I got home to express my disgust. (Now I’m not saying all store bought suets have this, but all the ones that where available to me did.)
“So I’m making my own then”, I said to myself in a matter-of-factly kind of way. I had any empty tin and I started to collect my bacon fat (which, just so you know I buy “healthy bacon”. No nitrates or no nitrites; no artificial preservatives, no artificial ingredients, no added hormones, gluten free, packaged by Oscar Mayer – to my surprise). Until I can raise my own pigs, this is the best I can do. So the birdies are getting the best I can do as well.
One my tin was full I bought a huge bag of bird seed mix for wild birds. In hopes that I would attract a range of colorful birds. It didn’t take much to fill my little suet, infact I had enough for probably 5 or 6 suets. So I stashed the rest in the freezer until they are needed.
So here’s what you need:
- So sort of healthy fat- beef or pork is best
- Mixed Bird Seed
- Large Bowl
- Suet Feeder
- *Optional Dried or Fresh Fruit
How to make your very own healthy bird suets…
Step 1. Melt & Mix
Start by melting your fat until it is workable, it doesn’t have to be a complete liquid. Then add your bird seed and chopped fruit*.
Here are your proportions: 1 scoop of fat to 2 scoops of birds seed. If you’ve ever made rice crispy treats, alittle thicker then this is the consistency you are looking for. You don’t really want to see the fat, if you think you added to much bird seed… add alittle more and you got it right. You may need a strong arm at this point to do the mixing for you.
My first batch didn’t have dried fruit in there, but I’m going to add it to my second batch to entice other bird species as well.
Step 2. Shape it
Once you’ve mixed it all together, you can press it into either your cake pan, bread pan or fun pan of your shaping choice.
Because it was freezing cold outside I actually just pressed mine right into my suet feeder / holder thing and hung it straight away. But if you place it in a pan your next step will be to place your dish into the fridge until it solidifies. If you’re storing extra, you will want to keep them in the freezer.
Step 3. Hang & Wait
Now find a good place to go hang your suet and wait.
That’s going to be the hard part… waiting. It takes birds alittle bit of time to find your snack for them. It took almost a week for me. The first ones to find it was a pair of Bridled Titmouse, pictured here. Josh new what they where, I had never seen them before. This pair kept their find a secret for the longest time, they would come take huge chunks and fly off for the day. Then be back bright and early the next day, work off a huge chunk and be gone. Then a few days after they had found it, they must have told their neighbors because another pair came with them. But it wasn’t long after that when others started to come.
The next duo was 2 male Hairy Woodpeckers (yep that’s their official name). I think one was a baby; because after a while the little one was the only one, to keep coming back and he’s pretty fat now.
Once the woodpeckers arrived it wasn’t long after that and the Blu Jays came in swarms. I had never seen so many Blue Jays in one place before! They brought the whole calvary, several in neighboring trees, about 8 on the ground and a handful in the main tree. Man what bullies they are. stinker butts would chase everyone else off so they could have it all to themselves. I need to grab a few more suet holders so I can put more suets out there.
But for now, the one I placed out there over a month ago is still going strong… guess the homemade kind sticks to their ribs better or something ’cause they only seem to need alittle bit each day. oh, yeah I’ve gotten a few Finches and Chickadees as well, but they don’t come regularly.
Another funny thing, the squirrels haven’t touched it. Josh and I thought for sure that the squirrels would have gobbled it up by now, but they never go near it. If I put out loose bird seed… well, then that’s another story. They ended up dumping the whole feeder out in an effort to get the bird seed. It’s a good thing birds don’t mind eating off the ground, lol.
So let me know what birdies comes by your suet, I’d love to know what variation you get and what they liked – so I can attract a range of birds to mine!
P.S. After doing alittle research for this post I found out that people use crisco or lard… why would you buy it??!!
Most families eat meat; you always have the grease in the pan from cooking bacon, hamburger or even some steaks. That’s what lard is, so why go buy it when you have it on hand. Like I did, just find a container that you don’t regularly use, stash it in the freezer from whenever you cook fatty meats and when you get a good amount saved up… then make your suet in bulk.