AskDefine | Define suet

Dictionary Definition

suet n : hard fat around the kidneys and loins in beef and mutton

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

  1. The fatty tissue that surrounds and protects the kidneys; that of sheep and cattle is used in cooking and in making tallow.

Quotations

  • 1996: Laura Erickson, Sharing the Wonder of Birds with Kids
    Many seed-eating birds also need animal fat and protein which they obtain from insects, animal carcasses, and suet.
  • 1998: Alan Pistorius, Everything You Need to Know About Birding and Backyard Bird Attraction
    Some jays, chickadees, nuthatches, and titmice regularly feed at suet; others seem never to indulge.

References

Extensive Definition

Suet (/ˈsuː.ɪt/) is raw beef or mutton fat, especially the hard fat found around the loins and kidneys.
Suet has a melting point of between 45° and 50°C. (113° and 122°F.), and congeals between 37° and 40°C. (98.6° and 104°F.).

Uses

The primary use of suet is to make tallow, although it is also used as an ingredient in cooking. Suet is made into tallow in a process called rendering, which involves melting and extended simmering, followed by straining, cooling and usually a repetition of the entire process.
Unlike suet, tallow can be stored for extended periods without refrigeration. Tallow is used to make soap, for cooking (fried foods especially), as a bird food, and was once used for making candles.
Suet is essential to use in making the pastry for steamed steak and kidney pudding. The suet crust pastry lines a pudding bowl, the meat added and a lid of suet crust pastry tightly seals the meat. The pudding is then steamed for approximately four hours before serving in the bowl on the table. Suet pastry is soft in contrast to the crispness of shortcrust pastry. Its low melting point means that it is solid at room temperature but easily melts at moderate temperatures, such as in steaming.
Suet should not be confused with Beef Dripping, which is the collected fat and juices from the roasting pan when cooking roast beef and is not rendered.

Availability

As it is the fat from around the kidneys, the connective tissue, blood and other non-fat items must be removed. It then needs to be coarsely grated to make it ready to use. It must be kept refrigerated prior to use and used within a few days of purchase like any meat.
Packaged suet sold in supermarkets is dehydrated suet. It is mixed with flour to make it stable at room temperature. Because of the addition of flour, some care is needed when using it for older recipes using fresh suet as the proportions of flour to fat can alter. Most modern recipes would stipulate packaged suet.
A vegetarian suet substitute is available in supermarkets in the United Kingdom that is made from fat such as palm oil combined with rice flour. It resembles shredded beef suet, and is used as a substitute in recipes, but with slightly different results from animal suet.
Woodpeckers, goldfinches, juncos, cardinals, thrushes, jays, kinglets, bluebirds, wrens, and starlings are all known to favour suet-based bird feeders.

References

See also

suet in Danish: Flomme
suet in German: Rindernierenfett
suet in Norwegian: Ister
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