On Friday we decided to have stew and dumplings for our dinner so when we went shopping in the morning I called in at the butchers to buy some suet. Dumplings are so much nicer when made with ‘real’ suet rather than the stuff in packets from the supermarket or – even worse – dumpling mix from a packet, plus there is the benefit of knowing exactly what you are eating. You may also be interested to learn that recent research indicates that eating animal fat is not linked to poor health as we had been led to believe since the 1950s.


Maybe it has no monetary value because it looks unappetising

Anyway I’ve never shopped in this particular butcher’s before, but I wandered in and asked whether they had any suet. “You mean dripping?” I was asked. I assured the butcher that I wanted a piece of beef suet and she disappeared into the fridge looking slightly bewildered. A moment later she emerged with a piece of suet and the words “Fifty pence in the charity pot, is that OK?” So I handed over my fifty pence and returned home,nearly as bewildered as the butcher, with about 700g of suet.

IMGP7538I find it hard to believe that a shop keeper doesn’t consider any item that they have “in stock” to be worth making money on. After all 200g of shredded suet in a pack from the supermarket costs about £1.2o, so there’s clearly a market for it. I accept that not everyone is like me and has a mincer at home, so most people would want to buy their suet in a form that could be used directly. However, all butchers have mincing machines, so I don’t doubt that blocks of suet like the one I got could easily be converted into a saleable product. Maybe the problem is that people simply don’t like the idea of what suet actually is – it doesn’t look very promising, does it? Perhaps people have got used to the idea of meat products being anonymised and processed so that they no longer resemble the animal they came from. I truly believe that if you are going to eat meat, you should be willing to acknowledge its origin and, indeed respect the animal enough to use all of it – even the unappetising suet! Or maybe it’s simply that most people would not have the first idea what to do with suet – I’m pretty certain it’s not currently a trendy ingredient.

Anyway, I was able to extract 550g of usable fat and with 50g being enough to make dumplings for two*, that’s less than 5p per meal for Mr Snail and me. So, I packed it into 50g portions and froze what wasn’t to be used immediately.

And, I’m delighted to report, the dumplings were delicious.


* Simply combine 100g flour with 50g minced/shredded suet, a teaspoon of baking powder and a pinch of salt. Mix to a stiff dough with cold water. Roll into six equally-sized balls. Drop into your hot stew and return to the oven/heat for 20-30 minutes. In my opinion, best cooked uncovered in the oven so they end up with crispy tops and slightly soggy bottoms!

Leave a comment


  1. That was quite an education for a city bred woman. I’m not much of a cook on the whole of it and neither was my mother. Don’t think I’ve ever made stew with dumplings. But I agree, if we are going to eat the meat, all should be used. Thank you for teaching me something new today. That makes it a good day. 🙂

    • I’m guessing it’s not a traditional use in the US, but I’m not sure. You can also render it down (cook it to release all the fat) and that makes dripping… which in Yorkshire you have on bread with some salt!!

      • I think it may still be used in the deep south of our country. We are a nation of great diversity in everything. 🙂 I love learning about different ways of doing things. There is no one right way just lots of interesting ways. 🙂

  2. I love using suet for dumplings and sometimes pastry. However both the butchers I normally use do understand it though it still isn’t expensive!

    • I was surprised, living in such a rural area, to get that response.

      • We keep the fat from our own pigs to use in salamis, but now I’ve read this I wish I had asked the butcher to keep the fat from our ewe that was slaughtered 2 weeks ago so I could make my own suet. I wholeheartedly agree that we need to know where our meat comes from and reconnect with the animal. Keeping and eating our own has done that for me!

        • I think that it’s important to be thoughtful meat-eaters. We always make stock from bones and feed scraps to the dogs plus I try to buy some of the less favoured meat cuts, although I’m not a huge offal fan.

  3. My mouth is watering!

  4. I was married to a Yorkshireman for 20 years who, when I first came across , had left behind his country of birth yet was still eating the food – he went to a lot of trouble to find some of the stuff as it wasn’t common here. He was still eating suet dumplings, dripping sandwiches and all kinds of offal. His diet changed. 🙂 But he remained fond of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.

  5. When I made mincemeat a year or so ago, I had to go to three different butchers to find suet. It’s just not popular enough to sell anymore (especially here in the states).

  6. i’m going to have to google…

  7. Makes the best Christmas puds, too, and you can carve thin slices off your lump for basting poultry if you slide it through slits in the skin…

  8. You can’t get suet here in the US unless you get it from your own cow or tell the shopkeeper it’s for the birds. Not sure why. It’s certainly not dietary…

  9. I love the idea of a butcher who knows the by product is free to him is prepared to help charity by offering it for a donation to the charity box. It’s possible that with today’s ‘convenience’ packs a lot of his waste product goes to local animal shelters as food.
    I buy micro meals of stew and dumplings and they’re just not the same.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

  10. Lovely story and it has now made me want dumplings!


What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: