We started out buying suet blocks from the store for one of those cage type suet feeders. Pretty soon we realized that was getting expensive at the rate the birds devoured those things. So we set out to try mixing our own suet blocks. At first we bought lard for the fat and mixed it with peanut butter, cracked corn, rolled oats and a few sunflower seeds. The birds liked these. Then we got to wondering how much it would cost to make them from beef fat. In checking with a couple different butchers we found that sometimes we could get the fat for free. Sometimes it may cost a bit, like 19 cents a pound if it was just scrap fat and no trimming etc. After making several batches we finally came up with this recipe.
Beef fat 15 pounds.
This is fat from the butcher that is just trimmings and he doesn't clean it up or grind it. There will be some red meat , but the birds will eat that too. You could get the butcher to grind it, but then he wants more money for it. We soon learned that the fat rendered better if we cut it up small. Since we had a meat grinder attachment for one of our kitchen appliances, we tried grinding it. That was great because it rendered much faster, and the little cracklins could just be left in the mix. Cook the fat until the cracklins are browned well and the boiling action slows down. You will need to stir the fat occasionally. We cook this outside on the camp stove so that we don't have the house smelling like a rendering plant. We cook it in a 20 quart stock pot.
Turn the heat off and let the pot cool for a while. It needs to be below the boiling point of water before adding any thing.
24 ounce bottle of Peanut Butter.
4 quarts of cracked corn
4 quarts of rolled oats
2 quarts of millet
1 quart of sunflower seed
Stir this all up and see how it looks. It should be thick enough that the fat almost covers all the grain when you let it sit for a minute. If lots of fat comes up over the grain you may add a bit more cracked corn. When it looks right, you are ready to fill the molds.
I made a block of wood in the shape and size of the store bought suet blocks and we molded heavy aluminum foil over the block to make molds. If you happen to have any of the plastic molds that come from the store, you can use those also. Fill the molds and set aside to cool. Now wrap them in plastic wrap and refrigerate. Use them as needed, the birds will like them. It is quite amazing how many species of birds have dined at the suet feeders.
How many does it make? We never get the same amount from a batch, but somewhere around 30.
Who are we? That would be my wife and I.
Note: We buy cracked corn, millet and sunflower seed from our local farmers supply outlet. We buy rolled oats from our local baker. These are in 40 or 50 pound bags. We buy the cheapest brand of peanut butter. Do be careful. Hot fat is dangerous. If the pot ever begins to smoke, it is too hot. Turn the heat off immediately.