After the Christmassy fun last week of stir-up Sunday, we decided to make use of those extra currants, dried fruit and suet with a stir-up Monday to create a feast for our feathered friends. It’s not often kids get a legitimate reason to cook with worms and Roo was curiously enthusiastic about giving it a go.
Here’s how we made our bird pudding. Don’t worry if you’re squeamish about the worms…they aren’t essential!
You will need:
- Old plastic containers e.g. yoghurt pots, jelly pots, squash bottles. If you don’t have any bird pudding containers but do have a fatball feeder or bird feeder tray then you’ll just need some greaseproof paper and clingfilm.
- Some twigs or old garden cane
- Bird seed + tasty bird food extras e.g. grated cheese, cake crumbs, sultanas and other dried fruits, suet, sunflower seeds, mealworms (!), nuts… go wild!
- A pair of scissors and/or sharp knife
- Mixing bowl and spoon
- A little helper!
To make the bird pudding, first chop the lard into small chunks and melt it down in a mixing bowl. You can do this over a pan of warm water or cover the bowl with clingfilm and pop in the microwave for a minute or two. One block of lard will make enough bird pudding to fill two halves of a squash bottle or about 4-6 small yoghurt/jelly pots.
Next is the fun bit – mixing in the bird pudding ingredients! I put all the different ingredients we were using into glass bowls for Roo so she could get on and add them how she wanted without me having to get too involved opening packets. Get creative on the ingredients – we used up left-over dried almonds and raisins from Christmas cooking and some old, dry stilton cheese we had in the fridge. The birds don’t seem put off by it!
Keep adding ingredients until they are all sticky and well-coated. You roughly want twice as many ingredients to go in as you have lard.
Whilst your little helper is getting on with the all-important stirring, prep the bird-pudding moulds. Small plastic pots such as yoghurt tubs are perfect. If you’re using a squash bottle like we did, cut it in half and line the opening of the top half with a small square of greaseproof paper to stop the mixture falling out.
Poke/scrape a hole in the top of the plastic container with a knife or scissors. I found this a bit tricky with the bottle – a skewer worked for me in the end! Poke a piece of string through the hole, leaving plenty of length above the container to hang the feeder with when it’s finished.
On the other end of the string, tie a twig or bit of old garden cane. You ideally want it just a bit wider than your container. This will be the perch.
Grease your container with a bit of cooking oil.
Now get your little helper to spoon the bird pudding mixture into the container. We used an old squash bottle and a jelly pot. When it’s full, pull the string so the twig is tight against the container bottom and central.
If you don’t have a container then you can roll the mixture into balls using your hands (coat them in a bit of flour first to stop the mixture sticking), or wrap dollops of mixture in cling film and use that to mould them into balls. Pop the mixture onto grease-proof paper to go in the fridge and when done, put into a fat-ball feeder or onto a bird-table tray. You can also put it in an old ice-cream container and just carve off chunks as needed.
Leave the bird-puddings in the fridge for a few hours until completely solid.
To release, tap all over lightly and normally the container will come straight off. If yours is stuck, a few tricks to release it are: wiggling the string at the top – sometimes the lard jams the string around the hole at the top; very quickly run the container under a hot tap or just carefully cut the container off with scissors.
Tah-dah! You now have bird puddings ready to hang up on a tree, bush or bird feeder! Ours have been a big hit, particularly with the Robin. Roo has had great fun sitting with her binoculars and bird book trying to spot the different feathered visitors coming to feed on her culinary creation. It’s not just the birds who have developed a taste for festive treats though – here’s who else has been trying out the bird pudding just outside our window… turns out the squirrels are not too please about our recent efforts to stop them getting up the bird table and it has made them bolder than ever!