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How to Make Fat Cakes for Birds

When you can't brighten your garden with flowers, the birds are sure to bring some cheer. Give them a helping hand this winter with these easy fat cakes made from leftovers.

The last year has been a great time to make the most of your garden, whether it's to enjoy the sun, or grow your own flowers and food. Now winter's here and the plants are withering, but you can still bring life to your outdoor space by welcoming our feathered friends.

In the cold weather, the birds need us more than ever, and there's a great way to help them out while also using up your leftovers and food packaging - fat cakes! These lardy balls of nutrition are not only lifelines to birds struggling to find food and keep warm in the winter, making them is a fun and easy project to keep you occupied while stuck indoors, and it makes the most of a few things you'd otherwise throw away.

To form the cakes, all you'll need is your hands, a bit of string, and some used plastic or card yoghurt pots (check out the Coconut Collaborative or Yeo Valley). Alternatively, you can use the cotton netting that our fruit and veg is packaged in so long as it’s widely spaced so that the birds’ feet don’t get caught.

To make the mix, the main ingredient is lard or suet. You'll need one measure of this, and two measures of leftovers.

The best leftovers to use are:

  • Peanuts - why not use the last scrapings of your jar of Meridian Peanut Butter? This brilliantly natural spread is made from 100% organic roasted peanuts.
  • Bread and fruit cake - simply break up any stale old slices you'd otherwise throw away.
  • Dried fruit and oats - finally there's a use for the dusty remains at the bottom of your pack of granola!
  • Cheese - grate up the last stumps of cheese left over from your festive platters.
  • If you're out of leftovers, a handful of bird seed will do the trick.

To make the fat cakes:

  • Melt the fat or suet until it's soft enough to mix with the dry ingredients.
  • Place all the ingredients in a bowl, and mix together by hand.
  • If you're using food netting, mould the mixture into balls, and wrap with the netting, securing at the top with string. Refrigerate for a few hours until they harden.
  • If you're using yoghurt pots, pierce a small hole in the bottom of each pot, thread some string through and secure with a knot. Then fill the pots with the mixture and refrigerate until set. Once ready, cut away the pots to recycle.

Simply hang the fat cakes from high branches and you'll soon see the birds flocking to your garden.