Monday, November 28, 2011

All Natural Bird Seed Ornaments

Heart Ornament
It's time to decorate the house for Christmas, YAY!!!  In our house my wife is responsible for interior decor and I am responsible for exterior decor, with veto power vested in both parties.  It is a system that works.  For me that meant I needed to be thinking through how I was going to decorate the outside of the house with Christmas cheer.

I have seen bird seed ornaments at the Bird Store, or in garden sections at the local hardware store, but they always have strange ingredients that one finds in prepackaged foods, and that scares me.  I have also seen people post bird seed ornaments on sites like pinterest, but they always seems to rely on gelatin as the binder.  This rubs my hippie sensibilities the wrong way.

Now a delicacy I like to make around the house is Sprouted Lentil Cakes.  In my work with improving my recipe for these cakes, I have learned quite a bit about all natural binders, I know what works and what just crumbles back apart.  So I decided to use that information to make my own recipe for bird seed ornaments.  So if you're looking for an all natural recipe (glitter pipe cleaner not included) then here it goes.

1/2 Cup Raw Golden Flax Seed
15 Ounce Jar of Crunchy Peanut Butter
4 Cups Wild Bird Seed
Several Seasonal Cookie Cutters
30 Pipe Cleaners of Pieces of thread / yarn

Bird Seed Mixture
Step 1: Cover Flax Seed in water and soak for 3 hours.  This will create a natural gelatinous solution that needs to be blended along with the excess water in the food processor.  Do not drain excess water. After processing flax seed, it should look like a chunky meringue.
Step 2: Place blended flax seed and the entire jar of Peanut butter into your stand mixer.  Mix together well.
Step 3: While Flax seed and peanut butter are busy getting all mixed up.  Rinse and drain birdseed.  This whole thing works better if your bird seed is damp before adding to mixer.
Step 4:  Slowly add bird seed to mixer 1/2 cup at a time. 

Place hook in middle
 Make sure you choose large open cookie cutters.  I tried a Santa, a bell, and a reindeer that all crumbled from too much detail.
Step 5: Lay cookie cutter upside down on parchment or on a silicone baking sheet. Tightly pack the bird seed mix into the cookie cutter filling it half way.
Step 6: Insert pipe cleaner or thread  making a loop to hang from. Press lightly into packed seed mixture.
Step 7: Fill remainder of cook cutter with seed mixture packing tightly.  I used a flat spatula and pressed my weight down on it to ensure a firm packing.
Step 8: Clear excess mixture from sides of the cookie cutter before attempting to move.
Ornaments Lined Up On Tray
I have a nine tray Excalibur dehydrator which I set on 115 degrees for 4 hours.  An oven set at 175 and propped open would also work if you do not have a dedicated dehydrator. 
Step 9: Flip cookie cutter right side up using a flat spatula if ornament stick to baking sheet.
Step 10: Place down flat on dehydrating tray or cookie sheet, and lift slowly using your thumbs to press against ornament so it remains flat on tray.  The ornament is VERY delicate at this point and if it breaks apart just move it back to your work area and start over.
Step 11: Dehydrate until ornament is no loner crumbling.  This took me 4 hours at 115 degrees.

With all this being done this way I still had about a 10% loss after dehydration as I was hanging them on the Christmas tree.  I thought that was VERY GOOD result being I had not used any outside chemicals or gels as binders.

While the ornaments were drying our family sat down and strung popcorn garland to hang on the outside tree where our ornaments would be featured.  It was very fun for a while, but as with most tedious projects the kids lost interest and my wife and I were left finishing the garland alone.

All together we made a wonderful all natural decorated tree for the neighbors and the neighborhood birds to enjoy.  The remaining ornaments made a wonderful early Christmas gift for our children's teachers and staff.

May you and your family have as wonderful time as we did making these cute all natural bird seed ornaments.


Lorinda - The Rowdy Baker said...

This is just what I was looking for! I really didn't want to use flour and gelatin, which was pretty much all I could find on the Internet.
Thank you for posting this.

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