I have two big square wire baskets that are made for holding bird seed cakes – the big bird seed cakes, the ones that weigh about two pounds. A couple of years ago, you could get those seed cakes for $3 or $4. Recently, though, the price has gone up and up, and unless you find them on sale, you’ll pay at least $6, sometimes as much as $8. It’s utterly ridiculous to pay that kind of money, when between the birds and the squirrels, those seed cakes are gone in three days, especially in the winter.
So I Googled around and considered a bunch of recipes (these seed cakes are not actually suet, as they don’t include any kind of animal fat. I do have pig fat in the freezer that I’ll one day render into lard so that I can make my own suet, but that’s another post entirely, and probably won’t be happening any time soon.) and hit upon one that’s simple and quick, and does exactly what I need it to do.
Sometimes I make the seed cakes as I need them, and sometimes I make a bunch at once – they’ll keep nicely in the freezer. They might keep just as well in the fridge, but we have more freezer space than fridge space, so that’s what I do.
Flour, light corn syrup, water (not pictured) and a packet of plain gelatin per seed block – that’s not a requirement, but I always use the gelatin to help hold it all together. Also, bird seed. I’m just using your basic wild bird blend here, but I’ve used the waste-free kind in the past (to cut down on the number of sunflower seed shells that pile up under the seed baskets), and you can toss any kind of dried fruits or nuts that you have on hand. If I’d thought of it, I would have added a handful of walnuts to this (Chickadees love walnuts), but I didn’t think of it. Oh, well – there’s always next time!
This is the “form” for molding my seed blocks. I’ve got two of them, they’re Sterilite 1.4 liter containers. I figured out what size I needed by measuring the seed cage and then going to the grocery store and measuring plastic containers until I found a size that works. The seed blocks don’t fit perfectly, but they’re close enough.
I line the containers with plastic wrap because that makes it easier to get the blocks out of the containers. Also, if I’m going to freeze them, I just fold the plastic wrap across the top and stick the block in the freezer. You could also use parchment paper if you want, or nothing at all – I find that the blocks will stick to the plastic container, though, so you might have to firmly tap (slam) the container down on the counter to get the block to come out.
So, it’s simple – whisk your flour, water, and corn syrup together. Add the packet of gelatin (if you’re using it) last, whisk it together, and dump your seeds into the bowl.
Mix it all together like you’re mixing a cake. Once the “glue” is incorporated, all you need to do is scoop the whole shebang into your plastic “form”, and pat the mixture down firmly.
Stick it in the fridge for about an hour to let it firm up. Then lift the seed block out of the container and put it in the seed cage. Voila!
- Edible glue:
- ¾ c. flour (I use all-purpose, I’m sure about any kind works just fine)
- ½ c. water
- 3 T corn syrup (I use light)
- 1 envelope of plain gelatin (optional)
- 4 c. birdseed and peanuts, fruits, berries, raisins, or anything else you have on hand that the birds would enjoy.
- Mix flour, water, and corn syrup (a whisk works well). Add in the envelope of gelatin, if using.
- Add 4 cups of seed, nuts, fruits, whatever you’re using. Mix well.
- Press seed mix into a plastic container of your preferred size (which has been lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper).
- Refrigerate for one hour.
- Remove seed block from container, and hang it in your seed cage.