Cooking with Susie Q – Week of April 26, 2021

3 years ago

I had a new friend ask me about hummingbird feeders.  It seems that she has run out of the red hummingbird food, the store had run out and did I know how she could make her own?  Yes.  We make our own and the hummingbirds love it.

 Hummingbird Nectar

1 cup white table sugar

4 cups water

Directions: Combine sugar and water in a saucepan. Bring to boil to dissolve sugar. Cool completely before pouring into feeders. Most commercial nectar is red. From much of the research I’ve found, it says that the red does initially attract the hummingbirds, once they find it, the will keep coming back. So if you feel you need to, add a couple drops of red food coloring to the mix.

 Do not use honey, brown sugar, molasses or artificial sugar substitutes for any hummingbird nectar recipe. Honey and molasses (brown sugar contains molasses products) are too heavy for hummingbirds to digest efficiently and can ferment more quickly, creating mold that is fatal to hummingbirds. Sugar substitutes do not have the calories that hummingbirds need for energy and offer the birds no nutritional value.

The ratio of sugar and water can be slightly adjusted, but a solution that is too sweet will be difficult for the birds to digest and one that does not contain enough sugar will not be suitable to attract hummingbirds. The 4:1 water to sugar ratio most closely approximates the sucrose levels in the natural nectar of hummingbirds’ favorite flowers.

 Hummingbird nectar must be completely cool before filling feeders. Hot nectar can warp or crack both glass and plastic hummingbird feeders, causing leaks. Warm nectar will also ferment more quickly once it becomes contaminated.

 Commercial hummingbird nectar products often advertise different flavors, vitamins and other additives that are supposed to attract additional birds. These additives are not necessary for hummingbirds’ health and a simple sugar solution will attract just as many birds as more expensive commercial products.

Unused hummingbird nectar can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week. When making your own nectar, adjust the recipe quantity to only make enough for one week to eliminate waste and ensure birds have the freshest possible nectar to enjoy.

I really enjoy this time with you each week and would love to hear from you. Do you have any requests? Is there a recipe you have been looking for or remember from your younger years? Can I help you find it? Do you have any recipes that are special to you that you could share with us? Please contact me at or c/o Pioneer Times, P.O. Box 456, Houlton, Maine 04730.