Now that cold weather has arrived, I try to treat the birds with suet I have found they really love. I don't make it during hot weather but during the winter, the cold keeps it okay and the birds definitely will devour it before it could even possibly go bad.
I begin with preparing my ingredients. Use equal parts lard and crunchy peanut butter. Generally I use whatever I may happen to have available but the favored seems to be the apple and orange combo. I cut the zest off the orange and chop finely then do the same with the fruit.
It seems I always have an apple that is just a little past its prime so I cut and chop fine. Mix the orange, apple, brown sugar, apple sauce and oatmeal together to let meld while you are melting the lard and crunchy peanut butter. If you have raisins, chop a handful and throw in. The pantry was empty of raisins for this batch so some extra apple.
A little hint, immediately wipe the pot with paper towels. It will make clean up much easier.
Pour the corn meal over the fruit mixture which will protect it from the hot lard/PB mixture. I don't really measure and just sort of go by feel. I also put in around a cup of bird seed. Mix all together. You can use either recycled containers from commercially bought suet or fill a high edge baking pan and once chilled, cut to size.
It may seem a little over the top but all and all when the cost of averaged out, I actually save 50% over buying commercial suet cakes and the birds reward me with quite a show at the feeders. I did a little test last year and hung a commercial cake and the homemade side by side. I went through 3 homemade before the commercial one was finally eaten.
The last time I went to buy a large container of lard as I was standing in the checkout line the lady behind me starting lecturing me on how bad it was for you to cook with lard and was telling me all the healthy alternatives. Finally I started laughing and told her I appreciated her interest in my health but that it was for making suet for the birds and they did not particularly favor vegetable shortening.