Suet is the fat found around the kidneys of beef and mutton. It has been used as a main ingredient in such dishes as suet puddings. It can often be found at your local grocery store or butcher, particularly around Christmas because of the use in puddings.
Here we are going to use suet or lard as a base for our bird suet cakes as wild bird food.(more about lard later) First, when you buy suet from the store it is a lump of fat, you could put it out like that but it is much more appetizing and nutritious for the birds if it is rendered down and protein added to it.
Rendering the suet in this case means the process of turning the lump of suet into a more user friendly substance. To do that we are going to cut up the suet into small pieces, or have your butcher put it through a meat grinder for you. Next, slowly heat the suet in a pan until you have mostly liquid fat, you may want to keep pouring off the melted fat into another container until no more liquid fat is coming out of the pieces left. Discard the remaining pieces or cool and put out for birds. Please be careful, liquid oil of course is hot and may melt plastic containers, also hot oil can burst into flames if allowed to get too hot, HEAT SLOWLY AT LOWER TEMPERATURE, DO NOT LEAVE UNATTENDED. For a suet cake that is harder and does not melt in the sun as easily, allow the liquid oil to cool, then reheat the oil and allow to cool again, this process produces a firmer suet cake. Many people run the liquid fat through cheesecloth, I have not found this necessary.
We have below bird suet cake recipes, but it is also very easy to make up your own recipe. It is a matter of choosing what you would like to put into the cakes and adding the cooled liquid suet. If you were making yourself a salad at the salad bar, you would choose the ingredients you want, then put on a dressing, it is like that, choose your ingredients and then put on the dressing, in this case the dressing is suet.
Please note that in any recipe below with peanut butter in, mix the peanut butter in with the rendered suet or lard, in a pan on the stove and warm gently, mix until incorporated.
Gently warm the rendered suet. Add all the other ingredients, mix well and when cooled enough to work with safely, pour or pack into molds.