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Nov 14, 2009 01:42 PM

Grate or grind solid suet for Christmas pudding

I've got a 4 pound chunk of solid suet straight from the butcher; should I grate it or grind it? room temperature or cold? Thanks for any advice!!

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  1. My joy of cooking says chopped suet, because of the long and low cooking the suet will melt sufficiently into the pudding.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Bryn

      Thanks!!! You are right that it will melt in, but oh gosh, if I could avoid chopping that big chunk I would... It's very hard stuff... And messy, I suspect. I will give the food processor a go, but if no luck, then my husband and I will be at the cutting board, hahaha.

      1. re: Bryn

        The time I bought suet from the butcher it was ground (and frozen) - pellet size pieces. In the pudding these melted way, leaving voids, similar to what you would get from leavening like baking powder. But the high melting point of beef fat meant that the pudding did not taste good cold - it needed to be warmed.

        1. re: paulj

          Yes, that's how mine was last time, but I'm just learning, and didn't ask the butcher to do it for me this time (last time, that was just how it came)... So, I noticed the recipe says "chopped suet-powder fine", but the pudding I made with the suet last time was fine, and the suet wasn't powder fine, so I'm thinking the grating with the food processor should be o.k. And, yup, I understand what you're saying about it not being so good when the pudding is cold, as I can see the little globs of fat in it then. Not appetizing!!! Always best to steam it for a bit and bring it up to temperature.

      2. I grate mine for my mincemeat: I remove the thicker membranes and put chunks in my hand-held rotary cheese grater. I would think the membranes might be a pain in a grinder.

        Also, do it cold.

        19 Replies
        1. re: Karl S

          O.K. My hands might fall off if I did it in the hand-held rotary grater, hahaha. But, I do have a food processor with a grating blade and will give it a try. Are the membranes on the inside? I have never dealt with suet like this before. Last time, it was already ground up...

          Also, your mincemeat, do you put meat in it?

          1. re: Full tummy

            "do you put meat in it?"

            I've only made Christmas pudding once - I now buy them (much, much easier and just as good, IMO). But here's the ingredients for a pud serving 8 people:

            100gr shredded suet
            50g self-raising flour
            100g breadcrumbs
            1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
            0.25 teaspoon grated nutmeg
            225g soft brown sugar
            100g sultanas
            125g raisins
            275g currants
            25g candied mixed peel
            25g chopped almonds
            1 small cooking apple, grated
            zest of half a large orange
            zest of half a large lemon
            2 eggs
            and some booze - the recipe says 75ml barley wine, 75ml stout, 2 tablespoon rum (my notes suggest I doubled on the stout and left out the barley wine - makes sense, I wouldnt have bought it just for this).

            1. re: Harters

              Thanks, Harters, for your recipe. I was planning on using James Beard's recipe found on but another recipe for comparison is always useful.

              My question about meat was in reference to Karl S's reference to his mincemeat recipe, which is another thing I'm interested in...

              1. re: Full tummy

                Not more than is in one of my ingredients. Let me 'splain. I doctor premade mincemeat, rather than going whole steer, as it were. I make mincemeat turnovers instead of pie because my parents can freeze them and eat them over a period of weeks. My recipe:

                My Mincemeat – makes about 5 cups, which is enough for about 16 turnovers made with 2 packages of puff pastry (which I brush with egg yolk and dust with demerara sugar)

                • 2 boxes Nonesuch dehydrated mincemeat (has beef in it, albeit hard to notice, and lovely dehydrated apples, but few raisins)
                • 1/2+ cup golden raisins/sultanas or other dried fruit of choice
                • 2 to 2.5 cups water (cut with a bit of fresh orange juice) (Nonesuch specifies 3 cups water for 2 boxes – I use less liquid so that the filling is not as loose)

                Bring to a vigorous boil for one minute before reducing heat and adding:

                • 1 jar Crosse & Blackwell mincemeat with Pippin apples (has no beef or suet, but does have more raisins and thickening, which complements the looser texture of the rehydrated Nonesuch mincemeat) = 2 cups
                • 1/3 cup orange juice
                • 2-3 capfuls of Calvados, Cointreau or similar spirit (not enough to notice itself, just to elevate the other flavors), especially if using suet - no rum or "brandy" please....
                • Extra freshly ground nutmeg, mace, Ceylon (true) cinnamon, cardamom etc to taste (do taste carefully)
                • Per pie: Up to ¼ cup finely grated leaf suet or, if unavailable, sweet butter (if butter, add after cooking is done, off heat) – to prepare suet, peel off leafy membrane and grate (cold) in handheld rotary cheese grater. Beef fat is the sina qua non of mincemeat, for mouth feel and rounded flavor - because suet is waxy when cold, mincemeat should be served warmed.

                You need 3+ cups for a 9-inch pie, 2 cups for a 7-inch pie. Cool completely before filling pie shell.

                1. re: Karl S

                  Sounds as though you've got a great recipe figured out... my husband has been developing his mincemeat recipe for a few years now; he did a version with meat, can't remember what cut it was now... It was cooked long and slow and then broken down into the fruit... I'm more likely to avoid the meat altogether (suet is fine), but I think it did add a different flavour/texture component...

                  That said, he has not perfected his recipe, so thanks for yours.

                  Sounds like a lovely turnover!

                  1. re: Full tummy

                    I use an old Tate & Lyle Christmas pudding recipe that uses butter instead of suet. However, you already have the suet - can you take it back to the butcher and have him grind it?

                    Four pounds is a lotta lotta suet!

                    1. re: Athena

                      Hahahaha, yes, but I'll try it first. If it's not working so well... then I'll consider asking the butcher to do it. How does your butter recipe work out? I might prefer that next time. Is it on the Internet?

                      1. re: Full tummy

                        I've been making it for years and it gets gobbled up, especially for Boxing Day breakfast :-) I have made the suet version and think, quite frankly, fat is fat and I can't discern a difference.

                        Can't find it on the internet, but happy to type it out for you if you like. The recipe was in a magazine so should be no copyright problem.

                        1. re: Athena

                          Here's a Christmas pudding recipe from the Tate & Lyle website:


                          1. re: Athena

                            I would love the recipe!!! And thank you.

                            1. re: Athena

                              I think Athena's right about fat being fat. Using the suet is really just a throwback to the time when beef was included in mincemeat. As mentioned upthread, I buy a pudding and, also buy mincemeat these days. It gets used for mincepies - I make a shortcrust pastry including grated zest and juice of an orange. The bought mincemeat gets "matured" for about a month with some booze added - brandy or sweet sherry.

                              Leftover pud for Boxing Day breakfast sounds like a very good idea! Do you fry it?

                                1. re: Full tummy

                                  But not necessarily as rich as the usual Boxing Day brekkie at Casa Harters - bacon, sausage, black pudding, egg, fried bread, mushrooms, tomato.

                                2. re: Harters

                                  Well, solid fats may be solid fats, but suet gives a different mouthfeel and flavor than butter. Butter is next best, but not quite the same.

                                  1. re: Karl S

                                    Thanks. It's worth a try. Never know which version one will prefer... I'm just new on this Christmas pudding journey, haha.

                                3. re: Athena

                                  Please note our guidelines for posting recipes:

                                  We do not allow word-for-word posting of published recipes, but do allow paraphrases as described in the guidelines linked above.

                                  1. re: Athena

                                    Hi Athena, I don't know if you posted the recipe, but I'm assuming you did, based on the Chowhound note. If you don't mind paraphrasing, I would still really appreciate it!!! Thanks.