Ingredient: Suet

ยป Jump to recipes using Suet as an ingredient

Hi everyone, Jess here to share a bit about suet.  I look at this stuff as a hidden jewel of the farmstand and of the Gibbet Hill Cattle company.  You can pick up a bag for very little money, and feed your birds like kings!  

Before the “nose to tail” trend, it used to be that suet was given away with the rest of the offal at Springdell when the freezers were filling up beyond capacity.  I would grab bagful after bagful in disbelief, and would tell anyone that would listen to swing by the farmstand to check out the offerings.  Once, I was talking to one of my neighbors about feeding her birds, and she was excited that I had a free suet connection.  She also loved using suet! When I showed up at her house with a bag, she was a bit puzzled and I think horrified.  She thanked me cautiously but then returned the suet to me a few days later, saying it was all a bit “too much”.  I had realized the suet that she was talking about and the suet that I presented to her were two totally different things.  Suet purchased in the store is boiled down and rendered into perfectly square shapes, often peppered with seeds and other fillers.  What I had presented to my neighbor was a block of the real deal, straight from the cow that grazed a few miles up the road before finding its way into my freezer.  What was “too much” was the reality of where our it originated.  Suet is, in fact, blocks of fat from a cow, no matter how much you cook it down or stick things into it! 

I realized that I hadn’t been very fair to my neighbor, or to anyone else to whom I had preached about the fabulous suet from down the road.  They were coming home with bags of it and calling me  asking “now what?”  

Now, you take the bag out of the freezer, and thaw it in the fridge.  

Place it on your cutting board and slice it into pieces, (when it’s thawed, it slices easily and isn’t as gross as you think) about 1 inch thick for a standard sized suet feeder.  Once it’s all sliced, place the bag back in your freezer.  

Pop some into your suet feeder, place outside (I bungee mine to a tree) and wait for the magic to happen.  It’ll definitely take some time for the birds to find the suet if you don’t already use suet, but this stuff keeps well in the freezer, (just like fat in a candle, really.)  Around my tree, there are several species of woodpeckers and nuthatches that love this stuff.  There’s even a bird I have yet to identify.  The squirrels also leave the suet alone which is a bonus!

You can render your own suet into tallow, which can be used in a variety of Paleo Friendly ways. It’s a lot healthier than most cooking oils, as it contains the “good” fats.  This stuff is pretty magical, see our writeup about rendering Beef Tallow below!

Recipes Using Suet

Beef Tallow Pie Crust

It’s confirmed, tallow makes the best pie crust. It’s so unlike the store stuff, and the difference in taste (as well as health- did you know this stuff is healthier for you than most oils?) makes it worth the from-scratch time. Give it a try!

Beef Tallow Soap

Tallow is a wonder substance! Use in candles, soap, as a healthy butter substitute, it’s all good! Rather than reinvent the wheel, I’m going to leave the explanation of soap making to my friend Jill over at The Prairie Homestead as I’ve found this to be a simple pure tallow recipe for soap. You’ll want to have dedicated soap making tools (i.e. you’ll be using lye and it’s not recommended to then cook with the same materials that you’ve made soap with). An old crockpot and immersion blender are the big things you’ll need. A half-gallon mason jar, safety glasses, gloves and some rubber spatulas are also helpful. I don’t use fancy soap molds, but quart-sized milk cartons and paper cups work well to contain the soap while it goes through the saponification process.
Long story short, soap may seem like an up-front commitment, but once you’ve learned the ropes, it’s a great skill to have. Having an inexpensive, local and pure tallow source goes a long way. Once you’ve done it a few times, it’ll make you wonder why you haven’t been making your own soap all along! Plus, home made soap mades a great gift come holiday season!

Beef Tallow Biscuits

Crusty on the outside, warm and flaky on the inside, you gotta love these biscuits! I’m going to send you to our friends at Southern Bite for this recipe. I’ve found lard and tallow to both work with these, so go with what you have on hand!