October 25, 2019 6:23 am Leave your thoughts
And that might be just what you need for your Christmas baking! We do, as it happens, also have gluten-free vegetarian suet in smaller 125g sizes too, but it’s our 2.5kg mid-bulk and 20kg bulk boxes that are most in demand at this time of year. Suet is called for in a number of traditional Christmas recipes, including cakes, puddings, pies and pastry. With the ideal ‘maturing’ time for a rich cake or pudding estimated at about six weeks, that makes right now the perfect time to place an order with us!
More and more people are choosing vegetarian (indeed, vegan) suet, so that their Christmas treats can be created without using any animal products. This particular type of suet is also the perfect ingredient for anyone who’s gluten-free: it’s lightly dusted with rice flour, making it safe for coeliacs and others avoiding gluten.
What’s the difference between this and normal suet?
‘Normal’ suet is made from raw beef or mutton fat, particularly the hard fat from around the loins and kidneys of the animals. The fat is removed from the meat, clarified, chopped and boiled in water, which removes any impurities. Upon cooling, the water and fat separate. The solidified fat is shredded and then usually dehydrated and coated with flour.
That might not sound like a terribly tasty process – and you might also be a little concerned that the end-result is hardly a health product, being pretty much nothing but saturated fat. Yet suet has long been a staple ingredient in baking in this country, giving brilliantly light and fluffy results. It melts as it cooks, and as it does so, traps air, bringing a lightness and softness to baking. It doesn’t make things taste of meat (any more than butter does), although it does bring a certain richness.
Vegetarian suet, on the other hand, is made from solidified palm oil, which is shredded. Like beef suet, this is a highly saturated fat and, like beef suet, it melts beautifully and produces just as good results (it’s perhaps a little lighter and a little less rich – but to some people’s mind, a little ‘cleaner’ tasting, too). You’re unlikely to be able to tell the difference between vegetarian suet and beef suet once it’s combined in a cake or pudding.
What to do with suet?
Arctic explorers have suet added to their rations, in order to keep their calorie count up as they stagger across the frozen plains. If you’re not an Arctic explorer, however, that doesn’t mean you can’t eat it, especially as we head into the relentless cold and damp of November. It’s perfect winter food: just think of jam roly poly, spotted dick, steak and kidney pudding encased in suet pastry, Sussex pond pudding or a Scottish clootie dumpling – lovely, soft, wintry and fatty!
Meat in a pudding?
Adding beef suet to your sweet baking is no odder than using butter: they’re both simply a type of fat. Suet is now the only animal product generally found in mincemeat – a dish that once genuinely was a mixture of minced meat, spices and dried fruit.
English Heritage provides some well-researched history on the matter:
“The fourteenth century ‘Forme of Cury’ gives a recipe for Tart of Flesh, which contains figs, raisins, wine, pine kernels, lard, cheese, minced pork, honey and spices….Eliza Acton’s mincemeat recipe in ‘Modern Cookery for Private Families’ (1845) includes ox tongue and ‘Mrs Beeton’s Household Management’ (1861) originally gave two recipes for mincemeat, one with and one without meat (although later editions would only include the meat free version).”
Buy suet in bulk
If you’re making a lot of mincemeat or puddings this Christmas, stock up on all the ingredients you’ll need, so that you’re not caught short. Buying in bulk is also the most economical (and most environmentally friendly) way to purchase our products. At Naturally Good Food we’ve got dried mixed fruit in bulk, the finest organic spices in bulk, and flour, sugar and other baking ingredients in bulk. Add our bulk suet and there you go – more pudding for your pound!
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This post was written by Yzanne