Vegetable suet is an alternative form of traditional meat-based suet that is now commonly used in some forms of cooking. Some who prize vegetable-based cuisine see vegetable suet as part of healthy eating. Others identify it more with the general nutritional content of meat-based suet.
History of Suet
In authentic historical cuisine, beef suet and other forms of meat-based suet were used in many English dishes. Christmas pudding, steak and kidney pudding, and the popular Yorkshire pudding all used suet as a textural and taste ingredient. Other English dishes also included generous amounts of meat-based suet.
Meat-based suet is actually a kind of fat. Suet comes from the hardened fat around the kidney or loin of an animal. This fat has a low melting point, around 120°F. As a calorie-rich animal product, suet was part of natural eating throughout the history of the British Empire.
Nutrition of Vegetable Suet
In general, the use of suet in modern diets is still mainly limited to England and countries influenced by English cuisine. Americans rarely buy either meat-based or vegetable suet for cooking. Many do buy this product for bird feeders and mix it with other substances to attract different species of birds to their homes.
In England and some other areas of the world, vegetable suet is a common product for cooking. Vegetable suet has to be made synthetically, and is generally made from oils such as palm oil, mixed with thickening products like rice flour. Vegetable suet is often sold shredded, just like some forms of meat-based suet.
In terms of nutrition, vegetable suet contains about 25% less fat than meat-based suet, but is still pretty fatty. According to nutritional tables, 1 ounce of vegetable suet contains 26.6 g of fat, including 14.8 g of saturated fat. That same ounce of vegetable suet packs over 200 calories, but not a whole lot else. There is virtually no sodium in vegetable suet, and no carbohydrates. There's also none of the antioxidants and vitamins associated with other whole foods like natural produce. As part of a meal prepared with whole foods, using this ingredient can contribute to more natural cooking, which can improve overall health.
More About Suet
Those who look at the role of suet over the years see that people used this kind of animal product for much more than what ends up on the dinner table. The previous idea of using suet for birdfeeders is a popular traditional use, but suet has also been used as a polish or leather preservative. In terms of food, it has served as a calorie-rich option for those with limited access to more perishable meat products. And because suet can keep for a longer time at room temperature, it was popular for the table in times before refrigeration.
Think about adding vegetable suet to unique dishes like dumplings or other prepared entrees if you are looking to imitate some kinds of global cuisine.