Looks like you came to the right place to find a recipe for happy birds!
What is suet? Suet is a high-energy and high-fat food source for birds, usually composed of solid fat, fruits and nuts, and a binder to hold it together (especially in warm weather).
Why make suet? Well, it is an inexpensive and fun way to care for your backyard birds, and it will attract birds that you might not usually see otherwise. Birds love suet, especially in the cold winter months when it's hard to find high-energy foods. Suet can be used all year round, though, and can be made with simple ingredients, most of which you already have in your pantry. What are you waiting for? Let's make some suet!
Step 1: What to Put in It...and What Not To.
The basic suet recipe that I have constructed is this:
1 cup dry stuff (flour, cornmeal, dry oats, etc.)
1/4 cup wet stuff (peanut butter, coconut oil, lard, suet [animal fat], etc.)
1 cup fun stuff (birdseed, dried fruit, nuts, corn kernels, etc.)
If you live somewhere hot, I would suggest upping the dry stuff to 1 1/2 cups, as that prevents melting. This recipe can be easily doubled, tripled, quadrupled...you get the point. I usually don't measure, just play it by ear until it feels really firm and has a good variety of tidbits.
What NOT to put in suet:
No dry rice or dried beans/lentils/peas. This will expand in the bird's stomach when eaten and cause the bird to burst. Not good.
No Polyunsaturated fats (vegetable oil, margarine)
No Dry Cat or Dog Food
No DRIED Coconut (coconut OIL is fine)
Step 2: The Wet Stuff
I used around 2 Tbsp peanut butter and 2 Tbsp coconut oil.
You could use any combination of the fats listed in Step 1, but I personally think that PB is a must-have in suet!
Step 3: The Dry Stuff
I used 1/4 cup all-purpose flour and 3/4 cup cornmeal
Again, any combination of acceptable dry ingredients is fine. I've used dry oats in the past, and they've worked well.
Step 4: The Fun Stuff
I used around 1/2 cup raisins and a little over 1/2 cup regular ol' birdseed.
Get creative! Crasins? Go for it. Corn kernels? Go for it. Roasted peanuts? Go for it. Meal worms? (who has meal worms just lying around the house, I'll never know. They're good food for birds, though, so if you have an iguana or something, throw 'em in. The meal worms. Not the iguana.)
Step 5: Wang-jangle It All Together...
Mix it all up.
Step 6: ...and Adjust the Ratios If Necessary
See, I needed more cornmeal. Add stuff until it feels right. This is your suet. You're the boss of it.
Step 7: Roll It in Birdseed (optional)
Ball up the dough and roll it in a bowl of birdseed, if desired. This makes it look more like bird food, and less like peanut butter cookie dough. Now the kid won't eat it. Don't let them eat it.
Step 8: Make It Into a Shape
You can get creative as to what form you wish your suet cake to be.
For this small batch, I used a mini bunt pan I had lying around, but in the past I have used a 9x9 brownie pan, muffin pans, or simply formed the suet into balls. Now they really look like cookies...
Step 9: Freeze Until Set
Pop the shaped suet in the freezer for, say, 60 minutes or more, depending on the size of your suet cake.
Step 10: Decide What Holder You Want to Use
I had a proper suet cage at home, but it was in use at the time, so I improvised.
You know those shower pouf things? Well, you can use part of that mesh. It's really a tube of mesh stuff, so you can just cut a section off of that and tie the end of it off! Boom. Instant suet bag.
Alternatively, you can hang the suet by a string through the middle (a pre-planned hole helps here), use a proper suet cage, wrap it up in string, smear on a pine cone, or make up something else cool. Make it yours.
Step 11: Pop It Out and Bag
Now that it's all frozen and firm, pop it out of the mold and set it up however you like.
Step 12: Hang It Up
I simply tied it with a twist-tie to a branch of my small tree out back. Set it up near a window so you can see the bird-party!
Step 13: Enjoy the Feast!
You can see my other suet feeder here, which is the normal cage-style one. The birds love this suet, and you will love the show! You're welcome.
If you have any questions or ideas to make this better, feel free to comment below!
"Every minute spent outside and awake is a good minute" -Hobbes (from Calvin and Hobbes)