What is Suet and the Alternatives to Suet in British Food

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Suet is an ingredient that pops up all over the place in both British and Irish Food recipes. It is a suet puddings such as steak and kidney pudding, and not Christmas cake or Christmas pudding would be the same without it. But what, exactly is suet, and if I don't have or kind find any, are there any alternatives for suet you can use.

What is Suet?

Definition: Suet is the fat found around the kidney and other organs in animals.

It is a saturated fat and used traditionally in pastry, in steamed puddings and sweet mincemeat. There are ready made vegetarian alternatives available which can be bought in leading supermarkets. Look under the brand Atora for both the meat and vegetarian versions. 

You can also make friends with your butcher and ask for the fat from the kidneys. Make sure it is clean and then freeze and grate and use in your recipes.

Examples of suet in recipe: There are many, many recipes for Christmas pudding, some dark and rich others lighter. Some use beef suet and others vegetarian suet for a lighter pudding.

Alternatives to Suet in Your Cooking

Truthfully, any substitute you use for suet in your cooking will never be the same as using the ingredient itself. However, there are some decent substitutes which will get you close.

Some recommend using frozen butter, but I would avoid this as butter melts much quicker  than suet and your pudding will become greasy and heavy.

You can mix an amount of butter with the shortening suggested below, but as is also mentioned, make sure it is frozen.

Shortening as a Substitute for Suet

If you do not want to, or cannot find suet then use a shortening instead Trex, Flora White and Cookeen work very well and are vegetable shortening, so suitable for vegetarians.

Before using the shortening freeze it until very firm. Once frozen grate on a large holed grater so you get more chunky pieces, once grated freeze again and only use when you are ready to mix into your recipe. You can also pulse the frozen, grated shortening in a food processor which will clump the  shortening and again, more resembles real suet.

Use your frozen, grated shortening as you would in any recipe calling for suet. You can also make the alternative suet in advance and keep it frozen in bags in the freezer if you are going to use it regularly. It will only keep for a month or two at most.