Baby, it’s cold outside. So why not clean out your kitchen cupboards and give your feathered friends a reason to sing for their supper?
The polar vortex is plaguing sections of the country and bringing with it some of the coldest temps in decades. I’m dressing in layers and keeping cozy beneath blankets, but I want to do my part to help wildlife weather this harsh winter. This is the time of year birds have a hard time finding food, which makes high-calorie suet an ideal addition to your backyard feeders.
Traditionally, suet is made with rendered beef or pork fat. But today I’m going to discuss how to make suet that is free from animal products. The key to making this suet is vegetable shortening or coconut oil, either of which are a great substitute for lard when it comes to keeping the rest of the ingredients sticking together.
Melt about a half cup of vegetable shortening or coconut oil and stir in any combination of these treats:
- Nut or seed butter
- Chopped nuts
- Ground whole-wheat or cracked-wheat bread or crackers
- Raw shelled pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- Raisins or other dried fruits
- Corn meal
- Buckwheat groats
Once everything is mixed up, pour into a pie pan and form the mixture into a flat cake. Refrigerate overnight or until firm. Once the cake is firm, place it suet feeders. If you don’t have a feeder, you can also smear the concoction on tree trunks or pack it into pinecones.
Downey Woodpecker on a Suet Feeder image from BigStock.