Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cookie Cutter Birdseed Treats

Here is an idea that I saw a while back that combines two things that I love: birds and cookie cutters. Of course, we needed to try it! Admittedly, I was skeptical that this would work. These are sort of like homemade "suet cakes," and I had never heard of anybody making their own before.

However, I don't want to call them suet cakes, and mislead you. There is no actual suet involved. I do, however, think that the gelatin serves a similar purpose both in holding the treats together and in providing the birds with a fat. The blog where I found this idea said to use Knox gelatin. To save money, I used Kroger brand unflavored gelatin, which is essentially the same. You do not need to buy a specific name brand for this to work.

I am thrilled to report that this project turned out very well! This is especially true since we made the treats on the day that everything was going wrong. These birdseed treats held up very well in extreme cold, wind, and heavy snowfall, which makes them great for wintertime bird feeding.

{This chickadee actually latched onto the treat to eat!}

One downside is that they were kind of messy to make and the kids weren't thrilled about getting their hands all sticky. Also, unlike other bird feeders* we have made in the past, there is a waiting period for the gelatin to set up. So, I wouldn't consider this to be the perfect kid-friendly bird feeding project  (although it is still a good one, and I would make them again). *Note: For more homemade bird feeder ideas, see my previous posts about birdseed biscuits and other assorted bird feeders.

This made 3 cookie cutter birdseed treats that stayed together and one that fell apart. (The little tree was the one that fell apart. It just did not have enough stuff to make the bakers twine hold it up on the tree branch.) For future reference, I would double the recipe so that both of the kids could each make two to three treats.
{Finished Cookie Cutter Birdseed Treats}

  • 3/4 cup birdseed
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • small cooking pan
  • twine/string/yarn/baker's twine
  • scissors
  • cookie cutters
  • wax paper/parchment paper
  • cookie sheet

  1. Cut a few lengths of twine, string, or yarn. We used both yarn and baker's twine. Tie each one into a circle and make a knot to secure the ends.
  2. Place the water and powdered gelatin into the pot. Simmer until the gelatin is dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat and stir birdseed into the pot until combined. Kids can easily help with this step.
  4. Line your cookie sheet with wax paper or parchment paper. (We actually used parchment since we had just baked. I flipped it over and used the reverse side of the parchment. Otherwise, I would have used wax paper since I usually reserve parchment for baking.) Place cookie cutters on top of the wax paper/parchment paper. Then, start spooning the birdseed mixture into the cookie cutters. Have children press the mixture in as tightly as possible. Fill about 1/2 to 2/3 of the way.
  5. Lay the twine/yarn/string on top of each. Now, fill the cookie cutters the rest of the way with the birdseed mixture.
  6. Place in the refrigerator for about two hours. Then, allow to dry overnight, flipping over occasionally so that they dry all the way through.
  7. Gently remove the treats from the cookie cutters. They are now ready to be hung outside, which children can do with some help. Enjoy watching the birds! (Note: I have noticed that most birds prefer to perch on a branch beneath the treat and to eat that way, so place the treats in a tree accordingly. The chickadee pictured above was an exception; it just climbed aboard to eat!)
{Our feathered friend enjoys a meal on a VERY snowy day.}

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