No Melt Suet – My Secret To Having Birds Beg Me For More

by Larry Jordan on March 1, 2008

Brigitte took these photos of me making suet last night

Here in northern California it can get really hot in July and August.  We’re talking sometimes over 115 degrees!  So I began making my own “no melt suet” and the birds absolutely LOVE it!

Sure I have put out the store bought stuff and they will eat it.  But I have to tell you, if I put out a store bought suet cake and one of mine at the same time, the birds will go through 3 or 4 of my suet cakes before the store bought one is anywhere near gone.

So, I thought all of you might want my recipe along with a couple of tips on how I make my suet so you can have birds pecking your door down and screaming at you to fill up the suet feeder when it’s empty.

My first secret is to use actual suet.  This is not necessary as you can simply use lard for your suet, however, I have found that the birds like the real thing better.  I go to the meat department in my local grocery store and ask for the suet.  They always have plenty of fat that they trim off their beef and it always has some meat attached to it also.  I put it through a meat grinder, several pounds at a time, then freeze what I don’t use immediately.  I divide the ground suet into 2 cup portions, seal them in bags and freeze.

If you want to you can mix 1/2 suet and 1/2 lard for this recipe:

  • 1 cup suet or lard

  • 1 cup crunchy peanut butter

  • 2 cups “quick cook” oatmeal

  • 2 cups yellow cornmeal

  • 1 cup all purpose flour

  • 1/3 cup sugar

If you want to you can throw in some ground nuts also (another secret that keeps the birds coming back for more).  This is pretty easy to make but I usually triple (at least) the recipe so I don’t have to make it every few weeks and it stores very well in the freezer.

Melt the suet and peanut butter in a large pot.  Stir in the remaining ingredients, a couple of cups at a time.  The mix should be the consistancy of cookie dough.  If it’s too runny, add more flour.  Spoon it into suet trays (I keep trays from store bought suet) or a shallow pyrex baking dish that you can cut into squares after refrigerating.

Press the dough down into the forms to remove all the air and you have a solid suet cake.  If you are going to use some right away, place it in the refrigerator until solid and freeze the rest sealed in plastic.

That’s it!  No melt suet that will stand 115 degree temperatures in the summer.  If you can, use real suet, add some fresh ground nuts to the mix and the birds won’t leave you alone!  Enjoy.

Happy Birding!

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{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

Bob, from VT July 13, 2008 at 8:15 am

Does melting the suet smell of the house? Would it be better to heat it outdoors on a grill?

Thanks

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Larry July 14, 2008 at 6:27 am

Hey Bob, You sound like my wife 😉 She said the exact same thing to me when I started the suet! It smells a little bit, and you are both probably right. It is a great idea to melt it out on the grill, especially if you have a side burner on your grill (which I do).

Now I have to apologize to Brigitte. I’m sorry honey. Once again, you were right.

Enjoy the suet and don’t smell up your house, heat it out on the grill!

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John January 21, 2009 at 1:38 pm

I like the idea of using the side burner on the grill. My wife has a new oven and she’s still kind of picky about what can go in it. I’ll have to give this one a try.

Have you found they favor any particular type of nuts, or do you just go with peanuts?

Johns last blog post..Pepper Suet – How to Squirrel Proof Your Suet Feeder

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Dee February 17, 2010 at 6:35 pm

Homemade suet “rocks” been usin’ this recipe for years.
Don’t scorch the “fat-lard”. Add to it… the cheapest “crunchy” peanut butter” (Hello–DISCOUNT STORES), any flour, wormy flour is good), cornmeal, any dried fruit (hard raisins? Cranberriess from Thanksgiving? How about som rancid cereal? I lam talking, these birds get off on cheap, wormy, kinda nasty stuff.

Just make a dough from it with flour. Freeze it in a container that fits the gift . And voila. I don’t care if you hang it from a string.

THEY WILL COME.

Salute,
Dee

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Dee February 17, 2010 at 6:37 pm

I have a standard recipe you can add to.

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New Birder July 1, 2010 at 8:15 am

Hi, I recently bought a cake of prepackaged store suet that’s supposed to attract lots of birds but it’s been hanging out there for 2 days with no takers. Why? And how long before it goes bad? Can manufactured suet bought in the pet isle stay outside indefinitely? Also, I have read not to use bags of commercial mixed bird seed but every time I put that out I get tons of birds, the mourning doves and sparrows especially seem to like it. I’m looking to attract cardinals and bluejays now and I thought the suet would do the trick but no one has touched it. Any ideas?

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Marcia December 5, 2010 at 9:02 am

We made this recipe for summer feeding and the birds absolutely loved it – and it didn’t melt! Do you have a good recipe for winter feeding? Our daily/nightly temps are now down to and below freezing.

THANK YOU!!!
Marcia

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Larry December 5, 2010 at 3:31 pm

@Marcia I use the same recipe all year

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Blaze June 27, 2011 at 6:43 am

Can you put mealworms in the mix as well?

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Diane July 20, 2016 at 2:48 pm

You can usually get freeze dried mealworms at pet stores. Those would be good to use!

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Larry June 27, 2011 at 7:38 pm

@Blaze I would think that would kill the meal worms. I don’t feed meal worms but if you had dead meal worms, I don’t see why you couldn’t put them in the mix

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Chef Scott January 6, 2012 at 12:10 pm

I melt my beef fat in the crock pot over night. It’s top temperature is 213 far below a flash point of fat.

House smells yummy too.

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crosswind April 6, 2012 at 10:01 am

That looks GREAT. I’m sure the birds loved this so much better than packaged suet. Too bad I’m allergic to Peanut Butter; affects my respiratory.. I would make this in heartbeat. Thank you for sharing!!

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crosswind April 6, 2012 at 10:03 am

HOwever…. I would advise against using the cheapest peanut butters… they usually have toxic Hydrogenated Oils and other crap that is disease causing for anyone that eats it. = transfats turn to plastic in our body.

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Julie May 27, 2012 at 10:33 am

I made a single batch of this recipe last week and have just made another double batch today. The birds love it! It was supposed to be mainly for the woodpeckers and flickers, but everything that feeds at my other bird feeders tries to eat the suet too. It’s kind of comical watching them trying to hold onto the basket and eat, but they manage. Thanks for a great recipe!

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Larry May 28, 2012 at 8:45 pm

@Julie you are welcome. I know, it’s amazing how much they love this stuff!

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cathy scott November 6, 2012 at 1:53 am

Larry can you tell me how long you can leave it outside before it go’s
bad (winter or summer)?
Also how long do you let the fat cook. Do you wait untill it the fat turns brown ?

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Larry November 6, 2012 at 5:30 am

I have never had the suet last long enough for it to go bad. Once the birds find it, it is gone in a matter of a couple of days. I would guess that in the winter it wouldn’t go bad for months if the weather was cold. In the summer I would think it should be fine for weeks if for some reason it doesn’t get eaten right away but that’s not likely 😉

As far as cooking the fat, I only cook it long enough to melt it. It remains clear.

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walterbyrd May 21, 2013 at 8:20 am

Is the sugar needed?

Is the flour needed?

What is it that keeps it from melting?

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Larry May 27, 2013 at 6:19 am

@Walter I’m not really sure. I imagine that the flour binds the fat and keeps it from melting and the sugar possibly helps also. You can try it without those ingredients and see what happens. All I know is the birds go crazy for this suet and it’s cheaper than buying the store bought processed stuff that sometimes sits in my suet feeders for quite a while

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Kathie February 22, 2015 at 8:16 am

I use cornmeal not flour

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Cheri May 22, 2013 at 8:31 am

Hi! Your recipe sounds wonderful. I’m in central Florida, and it gets really hot here, as well. I want to make some homemade suet for my many birds, and worried about it melting, and leaving a mess on the ground for the ant population to enjoy.
I have one question though. Does it matter if I use regular old fashioned oats? Do you HAVE to use quick oats?
Thanks so much!!

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Larry May 27, 2013 at 6:12 am

@Cheri to tell you the truth, I have never tried it with regular old fashioned rolled oats. You could try it and see how it works. I’m not sure if the quick oats are for ease of the birds breaking up the suet or digestibility or what.

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Cheri July 12, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Larry, I made this recipe, then added some mealie worms that had arrived D.O.A., and also some fruit & nut seed mixture. Oh my gosh!!!!! The suet cakes only lasted about 2 days. I gave some of them to my sister, and she said the birds were lining up to get a bite. When I went to her house, I witnessed that first hand. Like a revolving door. They were taking turns getting themselves a bite of these suet cakes.
Thank you so much for sharing your recipe.

p.s. I made my first batch with the regular oatmeal, but then bought some quick oats. Those are thinner, and probably are easier for the birds to digest.

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Linda March 9, 2014 at 5:08 pm

I, too, have been making my own suet and the birds eat a cake in 3-4 hours. I also save the containers from store purchased suet but I line them with clear food wrap, fold over and freeze them. Makes it very easy to pop the cakes out.

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Lynn Farrin February 7, 2015 at 12:22 pm

Whipped up my first batch today. Can’t wait to see how the birds like it! It’s been a long, snowy cold stretch so I’m certain it will get gobbled up!
Easy as pie to make!

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Dorothy May 29, 2015 at 6:49 pm

Just did this recipe, easy, and doesn’t smell up the kitchen, and it is in the frige waiting to cool. Can’t wait to put it out in the morning. thank you so much for sharing this recipe.

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Sheila McCarthy January 13, 2016 at 2:23 pm

Hi,could you tell me what weight is in a cup?
Thanks

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Maggie February 8, 2016 at 8:43 am

I just made an improv homemade suet last night and it was very satisfying. I’m thrilled to have about 6 cakes in the freezer ready to go out.

I didn’t adhere to any no-melt principals, but I think the addition of flour would help that tremendously. Great to see your method, I LOVE the idea of using old suet cake molds. (I don’t have any left, but I will keep it in mind!)

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Amanda February 14, 2016 at 5:32 am

I found this recipe via your website a while back, and have been making it. Since I’ve started making it, the birds have gone crazy! I have 4 woodpeckers that let me know the instant the suet is gone, drilling up and down my gutters until I bring more out. Even then, they fly to the tree about 4 feet away, and just watch. They’re usually back at the feeder before I’m even inside! I’ve got a (very polite) blue jay that has only shown up when there’s suet, and some wonderful titmice, nuthatches, cardinals, and a group of crows that have only shown up since using this great recipe. My only complaint is I live in town, and the starlings just ADORE this stuff too. 🙁

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Ross February 24, 2016 at 1:25 pm

Larry,
I had been making suet with just lard, cornmeal and various nuts and seeds. The birds loved it! But, as soon as it warmed up, the suet just melted. So I tried adding flour and peanut butter to give it more body. It holds together better, but the birds won’t have much to do with it. That’s probably not much to go on, but do you have any ideas?

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Larry Jordan February 24, 2016 at 7:40 pm

Hi Ross, Did you add sugar to the mix? I would think that would help hold the mix together and also make it more appealing to the birds.

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Jean March 30, 2016 at 9:14 am

Thank you for the recipe – I prefer to provide something homemade rather than store bought. I can’t wait to see how many will come to my feeder. Once I try it out I’ll let you know.

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Susan April 22, 2016 at 10:48 am

Just tried your recipe. Do not have a food grinder so I cut the suet in chunks, cooked it till there was quite a bit of melted suet, then put it thru the blender. Do you cook your suet till it is quite brown? Smells delicious. Can’t wait to give it to my birds! Thanks

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Karen Mastroianni May 17, 2016 at 1:09 pm

Is suet the same as fat??..I am trying to melt suet and its crisping up!!!!

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Larry Jordan June 13, 2016 at 11:33 pm

Suet is raw fat of beef or mutton and melts between 113 and 122 degrees. Try turning the heat down a bit.

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Lori June 13, 2016 at 12:48 pm

Thank you for this recipe. I have been making homemade suet cakes for years, and all the birds know there’s a party going on here at our house. But now with the summer, I’m finding my recipe is a bit soft, and want to try yours. Should I double your recipe or triple it to make a 13x9x2 pan?

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Larry Jordan June 13, 2016 at 11:04 pm

Good question Lori. I haven’t made it in awhile but I would triple the recipe. The pan in the photo is 13x9x2. Better to have too much that not enough to fill the pan 😉

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Linda June 20, 2016 at 7:05 pm

I also add egg shells for calcium and fruit. They love it!!!

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cindy July 2, 2016 at 10:41 am

You can also use masa/corn flour. It’s healthier for the birds and cheaper when you buy in bulk.

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Dawna Gray July 10, 2016 at 11:13 am

Larry:

I live in NW Pennsylvania. I have a double size cake pan that I plan to make this in….and may even pick up another and make two huge pans at once. I see Linda suggested adding egg shells and fruit. What type of fruit are you talking about and can I mix in bird seed as well? Do you suggest freezing or refrigerating these until needed?

I have really gotten into bird watching this summer and love it. I am amazed at the variety of birds that return to my yard on a daily basis. I Just hate having to bring feeders in at night because of the bear.

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Larry Jordan August 7, 2016 at 2:59 pm

Hi Dawna. I would encourage you to make as much at a time as possible and freeze it until ready to use. You can mix in bird seed and if you use fruit, I would suggest something that doesn’t contain much moisture, maybe even dried fruit?

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Teresa July 21, 2016 at 6:01 am

Hey Larry, I live in middle Georgia, I want to try my hand at making your homeade suet (am currently buying the peanut delight suet for my birds) but am not sure how to get the suet or if it needs to be “rendered” or what. Also, I see that you can use lard but is that like using Crisco shortening? I’m just not sure what to use here. Can you help me, please… 🙂

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Larry Jordan August 7, 2016 at 2:55 pm

Hi Teresa. I get the suet from the local butcher. It’s basically the extra fat they trim off the meat and usually has some meat attached. You do have to render it which isn’t that difficult. One of my readers made an excellent suggestion of doing the rendering on the BBQ outside if you don’t like the smell. You can also use lard, which is not the same as Crisco. Lard is actually rendered hog fat, Crisco is vegetable oil based and will probably melt.

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Cindy November 12, 2016 at 10:50 pm

Everytime I get fat from the butcher I can’t melt it. It’s like it just sits in the pan and fries. Not sure what kind of fat you are getting. I used to be able to get the fat that melts so I could make my own cakes but I’ve tried a few different times and mine just fries!!! Any suggestions?

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Larry Jordan November 13, 2016 at 7:14 am
Cindy November 13, 2016 at 8:01 am

So am I understanding that I am suppose to be using the fat from a pig and not a beef/cow?

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Larry Jordan December 18, 2016 at 2:46 pm

You can use either type of suet, beef or pork. I think you just need to cook the fat slower and I also think it probably helps to grind it up first 😉

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Carol Cushing December 11, 2016 at 8:51 am

Made my first batch filled 2 suet cages yesterday I have to fill them again today! The birds were this morning before it was light out

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Larry Jordan December 15, 2016 at 5:59 pm

Glad to hear that your birds like it Carol!

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Juel December 18, 2016 at 9:49 am

I’ve been using a recipe similar to this for years, after seeing it in a Bird Watchers Digest. After a break from bird feeding, I’m back at it but the squirrels are giving the sommercial cakes a fit and have finally figured out every trick I know. However, I haven’t tried adding hot pepper to the mix. Has anyone tried that, with success. If so how much to 2 pounds of lard?

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Larry Jordan December 18, 2016 at 2:42 pm

@Juel I found this recipe online:

1 cup lard
1 cup yellow cornmeal
3 cups rolled cereal oats
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
6 fresh habanero or Scotch bonnet peppers
4 tbsp. powdered cayenne pepper

Pulverize the fresh habanero or Scotch bonnet peppers in a blender or food processor. Set aside.

Put the lard and the peanut butter in a glass microwave-safe bowl, and melt them in the microwave. Stir the melted lard mixture very well.

Combine the cornmeal, sugar and powdered cayenne pepper in a large glass mixing bowl. Blend well.

Pour the lard mixture into the dry ingredients. Mix everything very well. Spoon in the pulverized peppers. Add the rolled oats a cup at a time, and blend following each addition. The suet should become so thick that you won’t be able to stir it. If it isn’t quite thick enough, keep adding a little more rolled oats.

Looking at the ingredients I would say you could add the same amount of peppers and cayenne to my recipe for no melt. I will try it on my next batch!

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Jan Butler February 25, 2017 at 4:15 am

Larry, I received a gift once of a huge pinecones with suet pushed into all the nooks and crannies of the cone. However, about 1/2 hour after hanging in my big tree a couple of crows came and stole it. I love crows, think they are funny and amazing birds, but didn’t mean it for them (little buggers)!
Any ideas on that one?
Can’t wait to try! Thanks

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Larry Jordan April 1, 2017 at 5:45 am

Hi Jan. As I’m sure you know, Crows, Ravens, and all members of the Corvid family are highly intelligent and curious birds. Since Crows actually use tools https://youtu.be/AVaITA7eBZE you will have a tough time keeping them from a simple feeder 😉

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Sheila February 27, 2017 at 9:06 am

Hello. When helping our feathered friends, it would be best to first check with ornithological societies what foods are safe to feed them. Salt is toxic to gardens birds. Their bodies are unable to process it, and it affects their nervous systems. Birds become very thirsty and dehydrated when they ingest salt, meaning they would drink more, potentially exacerbating the problem. They would also suffer kidney dysfunction. Most peanut butters are not salt free. I buy Flutter Butter, which is salt free, from a bird food supplier and add a good dollop into my mix. I’m thinking of making my own from the peanuts I buy (guaranteed aflatoxin free).
The RSPB also advises to avoid sugar.
I sometimes add into my suetcake mix, dried mealworms which I have crushed.

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Larry Jordan April 1, 2017 at 5:35 am

Thank you Sheila for this important information. My solution to the salt problem will be to grind unsalted peanuts into peanut butter at my local grocery store and remove the sugar from the mix.

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Margaret April 10, 2017 at 12:18 pm

For those who are worried about the suet smelling up the house, melting it with the peanut butter will make your house smell like you’re baking peanut butter cookies! Little or no suet smell.

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Roxie May 29, 2017 at 7:31 pm

I don’t know where my first comment went to but it’s out there some where…anyway, thank you for the great recipe and for the newer version next to the last of the comments…salt is not good for any bird or animal that I know of….I would use unsalted peanuts for sure in the recipe….it is always good to read comments because you learn so much. Thank you for the recipe, it will definitely help the bird feeding budget.

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Suzanne June 10, 2017 at 8:46 pm

Oh, my heavens to Betsy! I made this recipe for the first time about two weeks ago. Tripled it as recommended. Every bird in town made a beeline to my feeders. I just quintupled the next batch. I love that it doesn’t melt and make a big mess on the deck. My birdies thank you and I thank you.

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Roxie June 11, 2017 at 12:09 pm

I made my first double batch but I only used one cup of the flour and no sugar….I forgot to put the sugar in I am sure. It was an omission that I wanted to do. But it turned out great! I put two out this morning and hear it is 1pm in the afternoon and there is less than a quarter left. The birds have been at it all day. And I did put the bird seed into the mix…think that helped as well. Thank you for the fine recipe and I like doing it myself because store bought is too expensive anymore.
Thank you again.

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Shelly L. November 10, 2017 at 5:33 am

Hello and Thank you for such great recipe! I’ve not tried it yet but I am getting ready to get all the supplies. My parents have a front row seat to a small tree full of beautiful birds right at their kitchen table and I’m trying to plan ahead for Christmas gifts lol. I think this would be an awesome gift for them and would like them in the freezer asap for less work later. My only question would be is if using old suet feeder packaging, about how many blocks do you get from one recipe? These are going to multiple people and I would like to make sure to have enough. Thanks again!!

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Larry Jordan November 10, 2017 at 10:09 am

Hi Shelly, If memory serves, I think it makes about six cakes. I usually double or triple the recipe so I don’t have to make them again for awhile but I think the original recipe makes six cakes.

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Susan November 18, 2017 at 2:17 pm

Can I use shortening? or is it lard that makes it non-meltable. Old fashioned recipes that call for lard for baking now use shortening, but I’m wondering if the lard is a key ingredient for this. Thank you.

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Larry Jordan November 24, 2017 at 11:55 am

I don’t really know the answer to that Susan. I think that suet or lard is probably better for the birds because it is a natural fat, mostly monounsaturated, which is healthier than the 16% saturated fat in shortening which also includes palm oil. All I know is that real suet is still the best!

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