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Suet Recipe

I’ve been asked for my suet recipe a couple of times, so I decided to post it here.  The birds at our house seem to really love the suet.  I think it is also better for the birds and less is wasted than typical store suet.

I can’t really say it’s my recipe. The recipe was taken from the internet awhile ago, but I've made improvements on the recipe and technique of making the suet without making a huge mess and not producing a lot of waste.

Basic recipe (see notes at the bottom of the page):

2 cups lard*
1 cup peanut butter
3-4 cups masa (very finely ground corn)**
2 cups hulled sunflower seed***


Melt lard and peanut butter. 
Remove from heat add remaining ingredients.  Mix well and break up clumps of the masa.

Add enough masa until the suet mixture is thick like oatmeal. The additional masa with thicken the suet, making it uniform and easier to work with later. Also it will not melt as easily on warmer days.

Pour into cleaned 1/2 gallon paper milk carton.
Put the suet in the fridge overnight or until solid.
Once the suet is solid, cut open the carton so it can lay flat.

Leaving the suet block attached to one side of the milk carton, use a sharp knife to slice the suet.

Once the suet is cut up, fold the carton back up over the suet and put the whole thing in the freezer. The suet will be easier to handle once it is completely frozen solid.
When the suet is frozen solid, transfer the suet from the milk carton to a plastic bag. Then store the blocks of suet in the freezer.

Use a pastry scraper or knife to scrape the remaining suet off the milk carton. It should be easy to remove. I usually put the scrappings directly into the suet feeder.

Wash the milk carton of and it can still be recycled!

If you have the freezer space, make enough to store extra. Plus at my house, I go through suet at a rate of 3 cakes per week! So it's easier to keep up with those hungry mouths by keeping plenty in stock.

* You can find lard in the grocery stories.  Or get a large box of it from the Cash N’ Carry stores.  It last me a long time, but keeps the birds happy and is cheaper over all. Also I use the leftover bacon grease that I collect in jars. It seems to work just fine and the birds like it too.

** Through trial and error, I've found that using finally ground corn meal (masa, which is typically used for tamales, tortillas) is important in keeping the suet together and is less messy overall. Corse corn meal will sink in the suet as it sets in the fridge, resulting in some very chunky suet cakes. Cakes made with regular or coarsely ground corn meal will melt more easily during the hot summers. Since I've switched to using masa, I haven't had a problem with drippy suet in temperatures up to the mid 80s (I have not had the opportunity/heat to test is in higher temps yet). This mix is perfect for Northwest marine time weather.

*** I found it important to use hulled sunflower seeds (no millet mixes), because the sunflower seeds with the shell tend to go ignored (i.e. end up on the ground).  If you have a seed feeder, the birds will go there if they want seed.  And since not all birds eat millet don’t put millet in the suet.  That will be wasted as well (well, the rats probably enjoy it, but usually people don’t intentionally feed rats).

If you don’t want to feed the Starlings (who love suet), try making a Starling-resistant suet feeder.

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page updated: 5/15/10