This morning’s article was on Holiday Decorating for the Birds.
In the article, I referenced directions for making molded birdseed treats. These are available in stores this time of year, shaped like stars and other holiday shapes. They are fairly expensive, but not that difficult to make, so make a great gift for anyone who enjoys feeding the birds.
Here’s how you make them:
Put some waxed paper on a cookie sheet and spray it liberally with nonstick cooking spray. Spray cookie cutters and place them on top of the wax paper. (If you don’t care about molding the treats into shapes, you can make this directly on the wax paper, and use a cake pan instead of a cookie sheet. Just break the mixture into pieces after it hardens and put the pieces in a tray feeder.)
Combine 3 cups black oil sunflower seed and 3 cups unsalted peanuts, or 6-8 cups of any combination of millet, seed and/or nuts in a large bowl. Set it aside.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large saucepan; add 1/2 cup molasses or sorghum and 1/4 cup sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring the mixture to a boil; cover and cook for about 3 minutes without stirring. Uncover and continue to boil without stirring until syrup reaches 290 degrees F on a candy thermometer. Immediately pour the syrup over the seed mix.
Stir the seed mixture with a strong wooden sppon until the syrup is evenly distributed, then spoon into cookie cutters. Grease your fingers and press the mixture very firmly into the cookie cutters until the seed mixture is at least 1/2 inch thick, or to the depth of the cookie cutter. You’ll need to work quickly but carefully, because the molasses will be hot (that’s a warning if kids are doing this!).
Thread a large upholstery needle with twine or string and poke it through the treat to hang. If the treats have begun to cool and are too hard to insert the needle, heat the tip of the needle in a flame before inserting.
Let them cool and harden, then hang them for the birds to enjoy!